When the words oil and fat are mentioned, health-conscious individuals tend to run for cover. What they fail to realize is that there are good fats and bad fats. Complete avoidance of intake of oils and fats would actually be detrimental – rather than beneficial – to their health.
Essential fatty acids must always be part of our daily diet – without them, we take one step closer to our deaths. Essential fatty acids are divided into two families: omega-6 EFAs and omega-3 EFAS.
Although there are only very slight differences to distinguish the two groups of essential fatty acids from each other, studies have revealed that too much intake of omega-6 EFAs can lead to inflammation, blood clotting and tumor growth. The good news, however, is that the opposite is true for omega-3 EFAs. Omega-6 EFAs can be found in vegetable oils while omega-3 EFAs can be found in fish oils among other foods.
Physicians and scientists are of the same opinion that the cause behind increasing cases of heart disease, hypertension or high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, premature aging and certain kinds of cancer is none other than an imbalanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs.
As mentioned earlier on, omega-6 EFAs can be found in vegetable oils. This includes but is not limited to corn oil and soy oil, both of which contains high amounts of linoleic acid. Omega-3 EFAs on the other hand can be found also in marine plankton and walnut and flaxseed oils. It should be significant to take note that fatty fish and fish oils contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), fatty acids that have been observed to provide many benefits to the human body. In the early 1970’s, a study on Greenland Eskimos have revealed that one of the major reasons why they rarely suffer from heart diseases is because of their high-fat diet (mainly composed of fish).
The two essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are also helpful in preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks, depression and various forms of cancer. Fish oil supplemented food have also proven to be useful in treating illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The heart is unarguably one of the most important parts of our body and having an unhealthy heart means having to suffer a rather limited lifespan. Naturally, it’s in our best interests to keep our hearts happy and healthy and one way of doing that is eating food that contains fish oil.
In Athens, Greece, for instance a study was made to show if there was a direct relationship between high fish diet and inflammation of blood vessels. The results revealed that those who ate more fish than the others had a lower level of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, factors that are commonly used to measure likelihood of blood vessel inflammation. These benefits remained even when the various risks associated with high fish diet were taken into account.
In Perth, Australia, a study had revealed that fish consumption can be used against hypertension and obesity. Researchers of the UWA (University of Western Australia) have discovered that a weight-loss diet which includes a regular amount of fish consumption can be quite effective in reducing blood pressure and improving glucose tolerance.
Nothing is good when consumed or used excessively but complete avoidance of a particular food type is equally harmful as well. Ask your nutritionist for the right amount of fish intake for your age and health status.
Flaxseed oil comes from the seeds of the flax plant. According to the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, a flax seed is about 40% oil by weight. Of this oil, 55% of it is omega-3 fatty acid.
Flax is unique because, traditionally, the oil hasn’t been used much. The seed, however, has been used whole, cracked, or ground into flour then used in baked products. Flax has attracted nutritionists and those seeking a healthier diet because it has a high fiber content and it is rich in potassium. Flax is often sprinkled on breakfast cereals and salads and is found in some fruit juice drinks.
After the oil is extracted from the flax seed, the “leftovers” are often fed to livestock. An interesting side note is that the use of whole flax seed as food for chickens has increased in recent years because of the omega-3 properties.
There has been some confusion between these. Flax oil is also called linseed oil which is sold in hardware stores as varnish. Flaxseed and linseed are often used interchangeably but there is an important difference. North Americans use flaxseed to describe flax when used for human consumption and linseed to describe when it has been processed for industrial purposes.
According to the Flax Council of Canada, there are numerous benefits of which omega-3 is at the top of the list. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) constitutes 57% of the total fatty acids in flax, making flax the richest source of ALA in the North American diet. Every tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains 8 grams of ALA, and this is a polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Flaxseed oil has been found to be beneficial for those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease and Colitis. Several studies have found that this oil seems to be able to calm the inner lining of the inflamed intestines. Another benefit exists as there is a high content of mucilage in flax and this is an effective natural laxative.
Flaxseed oil is beneficial in helping to reduce high cholesterol. It’s important to keep in mind however, that this alone cannot be totally effective in reducing cholesterol levels, an overhaul of overall diet must work in conjunction with flaxseed oil.
The risk of heart disease is lower in individuals who take flaxseed oil. Evidence indicates that those who eat a lot of ALA are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and it reduces high blood pressure.
Flaxseed oil also helps to:
Reduce the risk of cancer.
Aid in the growth of healthy hair and nails.
Promote healthy skin.
Reduce menopause symptoms.
Play a role in burning body fat.
Benefits of Omega-3 Supplements
There is a potential for side effects and interactions with medications or other dietary supplements. Flaxseed may slow down the rate your body absorbs oral medications or other nutrients if taken at the same time. It is highly advisable to seek the advice of a trained natural health practitioner before taking this supplement.