Many people now realise the importance of consuming good fats and reducing harmful fats. A considerable amount of research and clinical evidence shows the health benefits of these good fats. The good fats are the two polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that can not be made in the body.

They are Omega 6 linoleic acid (LA) and Omega 3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). They must be provided by the diet as the body is unable to make them. Within the body,x both can be converted to other PUFAs such as arachidonic acid, or eicosopentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are essential for optimal physiological function and growth and a healthy diet should include a balance of the two essential fatty acids. Human beings evolved consuming a diet that contained an equal amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids. Today, in Western diets, the ratio is about 1: 15-20 in favour of Omega 6. The reason for this imbalance is the increased consumption of polyunsaturated oils and spreads rich in Omega 6.

A deficiency of Omega 3 has been strongly implicated as a main cause of heart disease, cancer and immune system breakdown.

Flaxseed oil is the richest source of Omega 3 fatty acids. At 50-60%, it is twice that of fish. Interest in Omega 3 fatty acids grew with the observation that people who consumed a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids either from fish or flaxseeds, had a significantly reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

With most of the studies carried out, are on the benefits of omega 3 from fish, it is important to know that ALA from flaxseed oil elongates in the human body to EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil has been shown to play a part in keeping cholesterol levels low, stabilizing irregular heart beat and reducing blood pressure. A study of 399 males of average age of 47 yr, showed that dietary supplementation of omega 3 flaxseed oil decreased blood pressure of 5mm Hg in the systolic and diastolic BP.

Research has also shown that ALA is particularly beneficial for protecting against heart and vessel disease, and for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Omega 3 fatty acids are natural blood thinners, reducing the “stickiness” of blood cells which can lead to blood clots and stoke.

Adopting a diet rich in Omega3 fatty acids has a significantly benefit with respect to the risk of subsequent heart attack and death in patients who have survived a myocardial infarction.

A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids has been reported to prevent insulin resistance and decrease fasting glucose levels. Individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of developing complication including poor circulation and cardiovascular disease.

The amazing oil from flaxseed has been shown to be beneficial in many chronic and degenerative diseases. Flaxseed oil should be produced in the absence of air and light and with the utmost care. Once opened flaxseed oil should be consumed within 6 weeks. Light, oxygen and high temperature destroy the vital nutrients of the oil. Flaxseed oil, has a nutty taste and can be substituted for any other oil in salad dressings, can be mixed in with yogurt, shakes, cottage cheese and can be poured over breakfast cereals.

References

Simopoulos- Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 59, 1994

Mantzioris – Dietary substitution with an alpha-linolenic acid-rich vegetable oil increases eicosapentaenoic acid concentrations in tissues. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 59, 1994

Berry and Hirsch- Does dietary linolenic acid influence blood pressure? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 44, 1986

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