The Benefit Of Fatty AcidsRead Time: 3 minutes
The body uses fat for more than just warmth. Fats store energy and protect vital organs. Healthy fats lower cholesterol and promote strong hearts and joints. Adding fatty acids such as omega-3s will decrease insulin resistance and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Fatty acids benefit total body health. Below are 4 reasons to incorporate more fatty acids into the diet.
1. Eye health
Good fats promote healthy eye development in children and prevent macular degeneration in adults. Fatty acids promote drainage of intraocular fluid and decrease the chances of glaucoma.
2. Strong joints
Certain fats have anti-inflammatory properties. Increasing blood flow throughout the body reduces pain and swelling in the joints. Omega-3s are often part of the treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Healthy heart
The anti-inflammatory properties of healthy fats benefit the heart by reducing blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and can lead to heart failure.
4. Regulating blood sugar
Fats can decrease insulin resistance and triglyceride levels in people with diabetes. Fish oil is reported to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Why are fats important?
Fats, also known as fatty acids, often get a bad reputation. Though not all fats are created equal, fat is essential for healthy body functioning. Fats are responsible for storing energy, providing insulating, starting chemical reactions, and helping protect vital organs. There are 4 different types of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats. Healthy fats should make up 30% of an individual’s diet.
Good vs bad fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered heart-healthy fats. Sources of good fats include olive/canola oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. Good fats lower bad cholesterol levels and promote healthy ones. Healthy fats protect the heart and lower blood pressure. Increasing the amounts of healthy fats consumed will leave an individual feeling fuller, thus limiting cravings and promoting a healthier weight.
Trans and saturated fats are considered unhealthy fats. These are found mostly in commercial foods, dairy products, anything fried, and hydrogenated oils. Bad fats raise harmful cholesterol LDL levels and lower beneficial HDL levels. The FDA is working to eliminate the use of trans fats in commercial foods. Trans fats can be removed from diets entirely, while saturated fats should be limited to 10% of daily caloric intake.
King of fats
Omega-3s are the most well-known fat and provide a wealth of benefits. The body cannot produce omega-3s. Omega-3s must be consumed through diet. Fish, chia, flax, and hemp seeds, seaweed, and walnuts are the most common foods containing omega-3s. Fish oil is a common omega-3 supplement.
There are three types of omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body uses ALA for energy. EPA and DHA are largely used for cellular function and muscle activity. DHA is essential for brain and eye health.
Eat the fats
People often shy away from fatty acids because of the negative association with eating fats. But fats are healthy. Fats lower cholesterol, insulate the body and promote a healthy heart. Omega-3s are especially beneficial to diabetics. Patients should speak with a healthcare provider for recommendations regarding diet and fat intake.