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Essential Fatty Acids

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FAQs about EFAs

Why are they called essential fatty acids?

"Essential" refers to the fact that your body requires these nutrients for many different functions and processes, but you can’t make them on your own - they must be consumed through diet or supplementation.

What are the major sources of omega EFAs?

Essential fatty acids (including omega-3, 6, 9) are found in fatty fish, shellfish, flaxseed, hempseed, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. When it comes to supplements, fish oil and flaxseed are the most popular options.

Am I getting enough EFAs?

Because they can only be obtained through diet, it can be difficult to consume enough foods that contain EFAs, especially omega-3. While there is no official recommended daily intake, some health experts suggest consuming at least 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA (two important types of omega-3 EFAs).

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EFAs - Essential Fatty Acids

When you hear the word "fat," a big plate of French fries or a gooey, chocolaty dessert probably comes to mind. Though we’ve been conditioned to think of it as a dangerous, off-limits substance that expands waistlines and makes us sick, the fact is-not all fat is bad.

The body needs fat for many reasons. It helps us absorb vitamins, protects organs and keeps skin soft and supple. It also supplies important compounds known as essential fatty acids-which the body needs for proper function but can’t make on its own.

But this doesn’t mean you should go to town on a bag of chips. Essential fatty acids come from polyunsaturated, or "good," fats, found primarily in plant foods and fish

What are essential fatty acids?

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are structural components of all body tissues. They’re needed to make cell membranes, and they play a part in the regulation of many body functions. The most well-known are omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.

Omega-3 EFAs are the type recommended by the American Heart Association to help support cardiovascular health. They’re plentiful in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna, but can also be obtained by eating flaxseed, hemp seed, walnuts and other plant foods.

Omega-6 EFAs, also essential for health, are found in many vegetable and plant oils, nuts and seeds. The AHA recommends between five and 10 percent of daily calories come from omega-6 essential fatty acids, and most people meet this requirement without effort.

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