The beneficial effects derived from the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids are known by all, but the same is not true of omega-6 fatty acids. In today’s article, we are going to see exactly what fatty acids are and how important they are in our body.
The most important functions of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids:
Both omega-3 (ω-3) and omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids are very important components of cell membranes and are also precursors to many other substances involved in regulation Of the blood pressure and in the inflammatory responses that occur at the physiological level. There is more evidence every day about the benefits of continued consumption of omega-3 fatty acids in protection against cardiovascular disease, mainly due to its anti-inflammatory role.
The human body is able to produce all the fatty acids it needs except for linoleic acid (LA) (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (omega-3). Both are essential nutrients and therefore must be obtained through food.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 are needed for tissue growth and repair and are used by our cells to create other fatty acids such as arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from linoleic acid. However, as obtaining AA, EPA and DHA from omega 3 is very limited it is recommended to include foods rich in this type of fatty acids in the diet.
Both LA and ALA are found naturally in vegetable and seed oils, although LA levels are usually much higher than ALA. We can compensate for this deficiency by consuming rapeseed oil and walnut oil, which are very important sources of ALA.
EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring. AA can be obtained from foods of animal origin, such as meat and egg yolk.
In the human body, LA and ALA compete for the metabolism of the enzyme Δ6-desaturase. It has been suggested that excessive consumption of LA reduces the amount available of this enzyme and as a consequence may increase the risk of heart disease. This conclusion has been reinforced by data showing that during the last 150 years the intake of omega-6 fatty acids has increased and omega-3 intake has decreased, resulting in an increase in the prevalence of diseases related to the system cardiovascular.
However, the correct ratio of both fatty acids to lower the risk of heart disease has yet to be identified. Some experts suggest that it is more important to consume the absolute amounts of both with the diet than to ingest a certain proportion between the two.
In most countries around the world, consumption of ALA is too low, so increasing consumption of omega-3-rich foods would be beneficial for almost all ages and physiological states. This objective can be achieved by consuming blue fish twice a week and replacing sunflower oil with rapeseed oil.
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