Omega 3 Fatty Acids: AKA Healthy Fats
Omega 3 fatty acids are often referred to as “healthy fats”. They are polyunsaturated. It is saturated fats that are thought to contribute to heart and vascular disease. They can inhibit blood flow to the brain and all parts of the body.
Polyunsaturated fats help to keep the blood thinner and moving along freely. The polyunsaturated fats are also “essential”. You could easily live without saturated and trans-fats, but you need polyunsaturated fats to survive.
There are several kinds of polyunsaturated fats in nature. The most important to human health are the omega 3 fatty acids and the omega 6 fatty acids.
Omega-6s are found in a wide variety of foods including corn oil and beef. Those foods contain only a small amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Because the typical American diet revolves around beef and corn, there is an imbalance in the intake of omega-6s to 3s in the wrong direction.
Ideally we should consume equal amounts of both. The fatty acids are converted within the body to hormones. Some of the hormones cause inflammation, while others reduce inflammation.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Aid in the Battle Against Inflammation
Omega-6s are converted into the inflammatory type. Omega 3 fatty acids are converted into less inflammatory hormones and may have some anti-inflammatory activity, as well. (Please see UMM article on omega 3 fatty acids.)
The two types of fatty acids compete with each other for absorption and conversion. So, if a person consumed equal amounts of each, they would experience less inflammation throughout their bodies. The Mediterranean diet consists of a healthy balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.