The Benefits of a Diet Rich in 'Good' Fats
ABOUT FATTY ACIDS
Fatty acids, as they sound, are fats that are necessary within the human body. Though you have probably often heard the word ‘fats’ and associated it with bad health, there are some essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are necessary for your survival. Without them, you could cause serious damage to different systems within the body.
Essential fatty acids are also not usually produced naturally within the body. They are termed "essential" because the body cannot create them and therefore consumption in the diet is essential.
HOW FATTY ACIDS SUPPORT WELLNESS
A diet or supplement rich in EFA's is used to treat depression, dementia, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure, eczema, PMS, fertility, asthma and the list goes on!
Many processes in the body require EFAs in order to function at their optimum level. EFAs are a key part in supporting the cell membranes and brain and nervous system of the body. Other regulatory processes require EFAs and they have protective qualities. You need a wide daily intake of EFAs to help support and maintain the myriad of underlying mechanisms which will in turn support optimised Wellness.
They are beneficial for:
- Cardiovascular Health
- Nervous System Function
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Memory and Concentration
- Hormone imbalance
But not only that, Fat is an essential part of optimal vision, not to mention glowing skin, hair and nails!
FATTY ACID RICH FOODS
Here are general foods high in EFAs:
NOTE: be careful of fish with high heavy metal content, choose smaller fish or cold-water wild fish
• Soy Bean
• Hemp Seed
• Chia Seeds
• Seaweed and Algae
TYPES OF FATTY ACIDS - OMEGA 6 & OMEGA 3 EFA’S
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS (LINOLEIC)
• Used in the treatment of PMS, hormonal imbalance, psoriasis, eczema and asthma
• For maintenance of healthy blood pressure and ensure a healthy heart
Dietary Sources of Omega-6 Fatty Acids:
Nuts and seeds, legumes, cereals, eggs, poultry, avocado, whole-grains
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS (ALPHA-LINOLENIC)
• They are important in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, depression and dementia.
• These EFA's are largely deficient in the Australian diet and it's important to favour more Omega 3 than Omega 6 in the daily diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic)
Cold water fish: salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, flaxseed oil (richest plant-based source of omega-3, an also a source of omega-6's), walnuts, chia seeds and soybeans (ALA).
SUPPLEMENTING WITH EFAs
A fish oil or vegetarian omega-3 supplement daily can also be used to boost the levels of these very important fats for therapeutic effects.
• Omega 6 supplements: Flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, hemp oil. These oils in liquid form should always be refrigerated. Never heat or use in cooking.
• If you take Omega-3s in supplement form, be sure to check with your health care provider first if you are taking a blood thinning medication such as warfarin or heparin.
• Quality matters! We recommend purified fish oils that have adhered to strict standards of quality and testing (free of toxins and heavy metals). You get what you pay for in terms of Fish oil supplements!
FOOD AS MEDICINE
The key is to make sure to enjoy an abundance of essential fatty acids in your daily diet:
• Add 1/2 avocado to a lunchtime sandwich or wrap.
• Make your own salad dressing with flax or olive oil and fresh lemon juice with herbs.
• Enjoy raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, including nut and seed butter for a good way to boost these essential fats and balance blood sugar. Sunflower, Tahini and Cashew butters are delicious!
• Choose wild salmon for dinner once per week.
• Make a trail mix and be sure to include walnuts or pumpkin seeds to snack on at work
• Add Chia seeds, hemp seeds or flax seeds - sprinkle on porridge or any meal of the day, add to smoothies or blend in yogurt. (They to boost fibre intake too.)
• Try Chia seed pudding for breakfast or a healthy snack.
• Add seaweed of algae into meals – add to broths, soups, stews, Nori is the seaweed that most people use to wrap around sushi. Seaweed is a tasty, crispy snack.
Author: Tegan Wallis
Tegan is a Naturopath, Ayurveda Health Consultant and Yoga Teacher at Griffith Consulting's sister company, Veda Wellness.
Tegan is one of Griffith Consulting's key program facilitators and specialises in workplace health & wellness.
For more information about Tegan or her services, please go to: www.vedawellness.com.au