We need to talk about PUFAs, and this is serious and urgent.
Now that I have your attention, put down your cheeseburger and go get some seafood. Wait, what do you mean “yuck”? You may not like fish and avoid it at all costs, but here’s an article that might convince you to change your stance.
So back to PUFAs, aka polyunsaturated fatty acids. As you know from our previous articles, PUFAs are the good guys. They are the good fats for your health (if you’re surprised, then make sure you check out our latest articles about fats).
Generally speaking, PUFAs are Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids. In the case of the two latter Omegas, there’s nothing very special to talk about.
Omega-9 fatty acids aren’t exactly in demand in our bodies, so your body won’t really raise a rebellion for not consuming enough of these.
As for Omega-6 fatty acids, here’s where it gets tricky. People from Western countries typically consume two, four and sometimes even eight or 10 times more of them than our bodies really need.
So what’s wrong with that? Too many Omega-6 fatty acids combined with too little Omega-3’s can easily lead to acute, and even more severe, chronic inflammation. I don’t know about you but I don’t enjoy complaining about ankle and knee pain all day long.
And here come Omega-3 fatty acids, the overlooked fatty acids that are so vital to your good health.
Why do you need Omega-3 so much?
To get a better understanding of why you need Omega-3 fatty acids so much, let’s make it clear:
- Omega-3s are a vital component of a healthy lifestyle;
- an average Westerners suffers from the lack of high-quality Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.
Let’s take a closer look at these two points. Nowadays, it’s impossible to convince educated people of the importance of any food without providing science-backed data.
So here you go, a non-exclusive list of impressive health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids:
- lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases (the deadliest among all the others diseases);
- anti-inflammatory properties;
- improved brain functioning and lowered risk of mental disorders;
- reduced risk of asthma;
- improved sleep quality;
- improved joint and bone
Why don’t we consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids?
The problem of Omega-3 fatty acids is even deeper than you might have suspected. It’s not just about lack of Omega-3s in our diet or balancing out the total PUFAs consumption throughout the day.
It’s about poor balancing out of Omega-3 fatty acids. Sounds confusing?
Well, there are three main types of Omega-3 fatty acids:
The first type – ALA – can be found in most plant-based sources such as flax, hemp, and chia. These types of fats aren’t typically utilized well by our bodies.
The problem is in EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids. A sufficient amount of each can be found only in seafood. But the typical Western diet doesn’t include much seafood nowadays, which is why Westerners end up consuming more Omega-6s and less Omega-3s than needed for healthy living.
It can be tough to balance out our Omegas, but our main goal is to focus on Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s in a 1:1 ratio. We can do this by eating more fish and other seafoods while minimizing processed foods.
Looking for an easier way to incorporate these fatty acids in the proper ratios? Stay tuned for our article on fatty acid supplementation.