Nutrition 101: Understanding Essential Fats

Not all fat is bad for you. As a matter of fact, some types of fat are necessary to your overall health and well being. If you are a health-conscious person and proper nutrition is important to you, then you have no doubt heard about the importance of consuming a sufficient amount of essential fats. So what are essential fats all about, and how can you include them in your nutrition plan? Here is a guide to understanding essential fats:

What are essential fats? Essential fats, also called essential fatty acids, are fatty acids that our bodies use for a variety of functions, but that our bodies do not naturally synthesize; therefore, it essential that we consume essential fats in our diet. Essential fats include the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, the omega-6 fatty acids linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid, lauric acid, and palmitoleic acid.

What do essential fats do for us? A number of highly important body functions are aided by essential fats. These include support of the cardiovascular, nervous, reproductive and immune systems, the repair of cell membranes, the regulation of blood pressure, heart rate and blood clotting, neural and sensory development in children, the control of inflammation, and much, much more.

What are the symptoms of a deficiency in essential fats? Many health problems may be caused from a lack of essential fatty acids in the diet. These include depression, hair loss, dyslexia, skin problems, high cholesterol, arthritis, the inability to properly heal wounds, cancer, impaired vision, heart attacks, learning disabilities, asthma, stroke, diabetes, obesity, accelerated aging, lupus, ADHD, insulin resistance, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and more. As you can see, an essential fatty acids deficiency is no laughing matter.

Signs of deficiency. The first and most obvious sign of an essential fats deficiency is dryness of the skin and other skin problems. Dehydration and constipation are also common symptoms of an emergent problem.

Where can we find essential fats? Of course, there are many over the counter supplements that you can add to your diet to ensure you are getting the appropriate amount of essential fats on a daily basis. It is also important to remember that essential fats naturally occur in certain foods, and that you should include these foods in any well-balanced diet.

Essential fats are not to be taken lightly. They are extremely important to your health and wellness, and you should take proper steps to ensure that you have plenty of essential fatty acids in your diet.

About the Author: Fidel Farfaglia recently graduated from a phlebotomist training program and is now working in a local hospital. He plans on continuing his education by going back to school to become a registered dietitian.

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