Essential Fatty Acids

All fats contain fatty acids which may be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are usually derived from animal sources, eg lard and butter. These fats are often solid at room temperature. Most plant fats are high in either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, with the exception of coconut or palm fat which is highly saturated.

Our body can make saturated and monounsaturated fats, so these fats are not considered to be necessary in our diet. Linoleic acid (Omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3) are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that cannot be made in the body and must be supplied in the diet. PUFAs are important for maintaining the membranes of all cells, for making prostaglandins which regulate many body processes, including inflammation and blood clotting. They are also needed to enable the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K to be absorbed from our food; and for regulating body cholesterol metabolism.

Food sources of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid ie Omega 3 and 6, polyunsaturated fatty acids:

Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) is found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and seeds. Good sources are the oils made from: safflower, sunflower, corn, soya, evening primrose, pumpkin and wheatgerm.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (Omega 3) is found in flaxseeds (linseeds), mustard seeds, pumpkin seeds, soya bean, walnut oil, green leafy vegetables, grains and spirulina. Good sources are the oils made from flaxseed (linseed), soya beans, fish, fish oil and fish oil supplements.

Copyright 2005 Glyconutrients Reference - Last Updated May 2005

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