Essential fatty acids (EFA) play a vital role in various body functions, such as cell maintenance, brain development and transportation of oxygen. Fatty acids are also involved in regulation of metabolism and mood, regulation of insulin sensitivity, as well as hormone production.
In particular, essential fatty acids are very important for anabolic hormone production, decreasing inflammation and helping with protein breakdown. So you can see why EFA’s are extremely important to athletes and people doing intense physical activity.
Sounds good right? There is only one problem – your body can’t synthesize essential fatty acids by itself. EFA’s have to come from the food that you eat or in the form of supplements. To make matters worse, studies have shown that a lot of the people tend to have a poor Omega-6/Omega-3 balance. People today may be getting 10-20 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3 fatty acids, leaving a shortage of Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.
To make sure that you are getting enough essential fatty acids (EFA), it would be a good idea to include these foods in your diet:
1. Fish and Seafood
Fish and other seafood sources, like prawns, are very good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mullet, as well as shrimp are excellent sources of Omega-3 and protein, and low in Omega-6. Just 113g (0.25 lbs) of salmon has around 85% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Omega-3. A good alternative is also a fish oil supplement, which can cover all your daily Omega-3 and other EFA needs.
2. Seeds and Nuts
Various types of seeds and nuts are great natural sources of essential fatty acids. Often rich in nutrients ideal for anabolic hormone production in both men and women. For example, Walnuts are the only tree nut that is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based Omega-3 essential fatty acid. Just 1/4 cup (32g) of Walnuts contains about 95% of the recommended dietary allowance for Omega-3.
Pumpkin seeds are another great source of nutrients, containing minerals such as zinc and magnesium that regulate many different body functions. Flax seeds are also a great source of essential fatty acids. Just some of the health benefits include: decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol, and reducing hot flashes.
Some types of fruit like avocado (yes, an avocado is a fruit), papaya and acai berries are a great plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. All of these fruit have more Omega-3 than Omega-6, so you can include them in your diet to restore the balance between Omega-3/Omega-6.
If consumed regularly, some greens like spinach, broccoli and parsley will increase your Omega-3 acid levels. Relatively high amounts of essential fatty acids (EFA) can also be found in vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage. Just 1 cup of cauliflower contains around 10% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of EFA’s. Besides the fatty acids, parsley, cauliflower and cabbage all have nutrients that can detoxify and ‘cleanse’ the body from toxic chemicals by stimulating the production of certain enzymes.
This article first appeared on GYMNASIUMPOST.com on 6th July, 2020.