Why are they ESSENTIAL Fatty Acids?

You have probably heard the term essential fatty acids, or EFAs before. Everyone says you need them but why? Are they really that important. Consider this: we know that supplementing and eating EFAs helps to tread a number of diseases and disease symptoms. If we then maintain a diet that has EFAs in correct proportion we should never have these symptoms in the first place. Perhaps we should never be getting these diseases? Perhaps we should be eating proper nutrition and then a host of our symptoms will never appear! So what symptoms and disease do we know that EFAs can be used to support?

Omgea-3 Fatty Acids (paraphrased from article linked below)

  • Prevention of cardiovascular diseases, psoriasis, bowel disease, mental illness, several types of cancer, bronchial asthma
  • Cardiovascular benefits: reduction in arrhythmias, reduction of inflammation, improvement in platelet function, reduction in sudden cardiac death by up to 45%, reduction in carotid artery thickness and increased blood flow in individuals with unhealthy blood sugar, and generally lower total cholesterol
  • Benefits to the brain and eyes: improving concentration for optimal mental performance and visual activity, encourages optimal electrical signaling for stimulating learning ability and memory, allows faster response to visual input, used for treating cerebral degeneration in Huntington’s disease, neuroprotective effects in Parkinson’s disease and some kinds of schizophrenia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: provides symptomatic relief, anti-inflammatory actions comparable to NSAIDs seen with a reduction in the common inflammatory marker of C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Cancer benefits: reduction in prostate tumor growth with increased survival, reduced risk of breast cancer, aid cancer patients in retaining muscle mass during treatment, consistent usage can help reduce the risk of various cancers

You have probably also heard of Omega-6 fatty acids. We tend to get enough of these in our diet with our seeking them out so we generally need to focus on increasing our Omega-3 fatty acids, hence our focus in this article. When I am wanting to find foods that are high in a particular nutrient I always go to Worlds Healthiest Foods. This chart comes from them and you can see the foods highest in omega-3 fats and how much you can receive from one serving of each food.

My personal preference is to take a serving of flax oil every morning with my breakfast. I tend to add this to a smoothie but on occasion I miss it for a few days. The first symptoms that I notice when I have not been getting my omega-3s is that I start to feel like my brain isn’t functioning fast enough. I also will notice an extra dryness and sometimes bumps on the back up my upper arms. These bumps, I have been told, are specifically a sign of omega-3 deficiency.

If you would like to read about omega-3 EFAs in more detail and look at the research cited for each of the statements in this article, please visit this free paper published in the Journal of Food Science Technology.

Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultationsvisit The Dancing Herbalist.com.

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