There’s been a lot of talk about “omega” fatty acids, so you might wonder what they are and what they are all about. Well these two fatty acids are EFAs(essential fatty acids) because they cannot be produced in the body and must be obtained from food, but they are required for healthy functioning.
EFAs are essential to growth and health because they are precursors to important biological compounds called eicosanoids, which are produced in nearly every cell in the body(Smith et al., 2005), as they are synthesized from fatty acids. In the body, eicosanoids are potent regulators of cellular function. For example, they help regulate gastrointestinal tract motility, blood clotting, blood pressure, and the process of inflammation.
Omega 6 is known to lower your LDL ( bad cholesterol) and cholesterol synthesis in the liver. It is also needed for cell membrane structure and is required for the lipoproteins that transport fats in our blood. Omega 3 is responsible for raising your HDL( good cholesterol) when combined with moderate exercise. You may have also heard about the health benefits of two long chain omega 3 acids found in only fish, shellfish and fish oils: EPA and DHA. Fish that naturally contain more oil, such as salmon, and tuna, are high in EPA and DHA. Research indicates that diets high in EPA and DHA stimulate the production of regulatory compounds that reduce an individuals risk for heart disease(Wijendran and Hayes, 2004;Din et al., 2004).
1) Medline Plus health information – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus
2) International FOod information Council Foundation – http://www.foodinsight.org
3) The Nutrition Source: Knowledge for Healthy Living, Harvard School of Public Health – http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource
4) Nutrition: A functional approach – Janice Thompson, Melinda Manore, Judy Sheeshka