Foods containing essential fatty acids are extremely important to one’s health. The word essential means that not only are they necessary for our body’s functioning; but that they cannot be manufactured by the body, and therefore must be obtained from dietary sources.
There are numerous types of essential fatty acids and things can get confusing quickly.
In this article, we’ll spell out the various types., in the simplest terms possible.
Types of essential fatty acids:
1. Linoleic acid
2. Alpha-linolenic acid
These are essential fatty acids that are found in non-meat, non-fish sources.
For example, linoleic acid is found in certain: vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds; certain oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn and soy oils.
Foods high in essential fatty acids with alpha-linolenic acids are: flaxseed, walnut oil, green leafy veggies (such as spinach), mustard seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina; and oils made from linseed, rapeseed (canola oil), and soybean oil.
Now, before we discuss other foods containing essential fatty acids, let’s cover two other essential fatty acid types.
1. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
2. EPA (eiocosapentaenoic acid).
Now you may be thinking, I thought you were going to make this simple. Yes, we are. Here’s what you need to know:
There are two types of essential fatty acids you’ve probably heard of: omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids.
To make a long story short, they are both very important for health but for most people who live in the Western world, we already take in too many omega 6 fatty acids, and too little omega 3 fatty acids. So, the key for the vast majority of us is to eat more foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, and cut back on some of the ones rich in omega 6 fatty acids.
Linoleic acid is an omega 6 fatty acid. Therefore, most Acidaburn of us should be CUTTING BACK on eating more oils safflower, sunflower, corn and soy oils. We already take in too many of them.
Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega 3 fatty acid, as are DHA and EPA, and, therefore we should be eating more of them. One important thing to understand is that the human body converts alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids for certain crucial functions.
However, this conversion does not always happen smoothly or efficiently. For example, certain health conditions, getting older, or other factors can prevent alpha-linolenic acid from being converted properly.
This is why, first and foremost, you should look to eat foods containing essential fatty acids that have DHA and EPA directly.
Foods high in essential fatty acids with DHA and EPA are:
- fatty deep water fish
- organic eggs
- grassfed meats (most meats are grainfed, giving them low omega 3 DHA and EPA content).
- fish oil supplements (the best source possible because they have been purified)
Granted, if you want to get enough DHA and EPA you are going to have to be a more conscientious shopper. Many supermarkets don’t carry grassfed meats, but more are starting to. Local farmer’s markets and speciality shops are selling them. However, they are quite pricy, but well worth it from a health standpoint.