Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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About Essential Fats
1. What are essential fats?
With the focus on low-fat diets over the last few years, we have forgotten about those fats that our bodies need for optimal health and energy. There are two fats that are considered essential, meaning that our bodies do not manufacture them, and therefore we need to get them from our diet, and without them our bodies cannot function optimally. These fats are omega 3 and omega 6. Unlike other non-essential fats, the body uses these essential fats for growth and functional needs, rather than for fuel. This means they do not get stored as fat in your fat cells, but instead increase metabolism and discourage increased fat storage.
2. What role do essential fats play in the body?
Research shows that essential fats, also referred to as essential fatty acids, have the following functions in the body:
- Increase energy, performance, and stamina. Essential fatty acids enhance thermogenesis, help build muscle, prevent muscle break down, and speed recovery from fatigue.
- Strengthen the immune system. Essential fatty acids make hormone-like eicosanoids that regulate immune and inflammatory responses. Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory effects and can slow autoimmune damage.
- Lower most risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Essential fatty acids (especially omega 3s) lower abnormally high levels of blood pressure, triglycerides, fibrinogen, tendency to clot formation, and inflammation.
- Improve brain function: mood, intelligence, behavior, and vision. Our brain is over 60% fat. Essential fatty acids are important components of the entire nervous system. They are necessary to make the neurotransmitter serotonin. Depression and other brain diseases show decreased levels of omega 3.
- Aid in weight reduction. Essential fatty acids help keep mood and energy up and suppress appetite, thereby aiding in weight loss. More recently, they have been found to block the genes that produce fat in the body (saturated and Trans Fat do not have this same effect) and increase thermogenesis.
- Regulate organs and glands. Liver and kidneys, adrenal and thyroid glands, and the production of male and female hormones need essential fatty acids.
- Speed recovery and healing. Essential fatty acids are necessary for cell growth and division. They form all cell membranes and regulate vital cell activity.
- Support healthy child development. For nervous system development, a growing fetus needs optimum essential fatty acids from the mother's body. Mothers become depleted of essential fatty acids during pregnancy, and need optimal essential fatty acid intake for their health and their children's optimum development.
- Improve digestion. Poorly digested foods tie up the immune system and can cause gut inflammation, leaky gut, and allergies. Omega 3s help to improve gut integrity whiledecreasing inflammation and "leaky gut".
- Decrease infection. Essential fatty acids have anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and anti-microbial properties, helping to protect against infections.
- Keep bones strong. Essential fatty acids aid in the transport of minerals that keep bones and teeth strong, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
- Protect genetic material. Essential fatty acids regulate gene expression, and omega 3s inhibit tumor growth.
- Ease Premenstrual Sydrome (PMS). Studies indicate that omega 6 intake was voted, by women, among the top three most effective premenstrual syndrome treatments. Omega 3s may be even more effective.
- Produce beautiful hair, skin, and nails. Some of the first signs of essential fatty acid deficiency are dry, flaky skin, dull hair, and brittle nails. Omega 3s can help skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
3. What are the symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency?
Many people are deficient in essential fats, particularly omega 3. Deficiencies in essential fats cause a number of physical issues, including:
- growth retardation
- vision and learning problems; behavioral changes; mental deterioration
- weakness; motor uncoordination
- tingling sensations in arms and legs.
In addition, omega 3s have been shown to reverse the following conditions:
- high triglycerides; high blood pressure; sticky platelets
- sub-optimal skin condition; inflammatory skin diseases
- water retention (edema); inflammation in any tissue in the body
- auto-immune conditions
- low metabolic rate; weight gain
4. What is the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 required for optimal health?
Over millions of years, humans have consumed a diet that contained approximately equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. In Western societies over the past 150 years, there has been a huge increase in the proportion of omega-6s consumed in vegetable oils (both as cooking oils and in processed foods) from the seeds of corn, sunflower, safflower and soybeans. Current estimates of Western diets suggest a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the order of 10-20:1.
Hundreds of research studies have demonstrated that many current health problems are associated with an inflated amount of omega 6 relative to omega 3, including increased risk of heart disease.
5. How do I restore an optimal ratio of essential fats in my body?
Best results for health have been seen ingesting foods with an omega 3:omega 6 ratio of 2:1 to restore a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in the body. Too high a ratio of omega 3 to omega 6, such as 3.5 or 4 to 1 found in plain flax and flax oil, can lead to omega 6 deficiency, with symptoms of deterioration that can harm all cells, tissues, glands, and organs. Too low a ratio, such as 1 to 10 (the average found in Western diets) can lead to symptoms of omega 3 deficiency, because excess omega 6 blocks the production of omega 3. Omega 3 deficiencies increase the risk of increasing cardiovascular, immune, autoimmune, diabetic, and inflammatory disease, and leads to sub-optimal intelligence, concentration, mood, and performance.
6. What are the best foods to restore the optimal ratio of 2:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3?
Some nutritionists point to the fact that oily fish contains the long chain omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA in a pre-formed state, and that these have heart protective properties. However, promoting fish for this reason ignores the fact that the body can convert plant sources of omega 3 into EPA and DHA. This has been shown by a number of studies which have demonstrated that plant omega 3-rich oils significantly elevate tissue levels of EPA/DHA.
There are certain fatty fish that contain high levels of omega 3 fat, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, yellow tail, and trout. You can also find omega 3 fatty acids in flax seed, and to a lesser extent in canola and walnut oils.
7. Is a flax oil blend better than plain flax oil?
Once you become aware of the benefits of a high quality unrefined raw seed oil to optimize your ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 essential fats, you are then faced with a choice between raw flax seed oil and a raw flax seed oil blend containing flax, sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seed oils, and other minor ingredients. Which is better?
Let’s compare EnergyFirst OmegaEnergy Oil Blend and flax seed oil head-to-head. OmegaEnergy Oil contains the following ingredients: flax oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and pumpkin seed oil with the following nutritional profile:
Omega 3: 6.5 grams per serving
Omega 6: 3.1 grams per serving
Omega 9: 3.1 grams per serving
Mono-unsaturated fat: 3 g
Medium-chain triglycerides: 233mg
Omega Energy Oil Omega 3:6:9 Ratio: 2 : 1 : 0.9
In addition to the optimal 1:2 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, Omega Energy Oil provides a good amount of heart-protective monounsaturated fatty acids (3g), and 233mg of medium chain triglycerides.
Medium Chain Triglycerides — MCTs are fats of medium chain length. As a result of their length, MCTs are readily oxidized (burned) in the liver and skeletal muscle. Research shows the MCTs may lead to an increased metabolic rate when replacing other dietary fats.
Sesame seed oil is a rich source of omega 6. Sesame also contains lignans, which have been shown to be anti-cancer. Sesame and their lignans have a broad range of applications in human health, including increasing the anti-inflammatory index of fish oils, decreasing LDL oxidation, inhibiting lipid peroxidation, lowering LDL levels in humans, and guarding against DNA mutating toxins. The most significant finding about sesame lignans, however, is their unique ability to increase tissue levels of vitamin E (including gamma tocopherol) via several different mechanisms. Elevation of gamma tocopherol is of particular importance because gamma tocopherol, but not alpha tocopherol, quenches a particularly dangerous type of free radical (peroxynitrite radical) that plays a major role in the development of age-related disorders.
Sunflower seed oil contains up to 65% omega 6.
Pumpkin seed oil contains up to 15% omega 3 and 45-60% omega 6. It also contains zinc, which is well-documented to help prevent prostate cancer.
A typical brand of Flaxseed Oil contains: 8 grams Omega 3, 2.7 grams Omega 6, and 2 grams of Omega 9). Omega 3:6:9 Ratio: 3:1:0.75
It should be noted that Energyfirst Omega Oil Blend, unlike some of the cheaper flax oil products, is pressed at low temperature under exclusion of oxygen and light, which can damage good fats. It's then packed in brown glass to keep the light away. So, while priced higher compared to most flax oil products, the quality is very high.