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Body and Mind

Some Facts About Omega-3 Fats and Trans Fats


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The medical fraternity is discovering more and more about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids for our health. They can lower triglyceride levels, increase HDL cholesterol, help minimize inflammation and blood clotting, and keep blood vessels healthy. Deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids has also been implicated in ADHD/ADD, various learning disorders, behavioural and autistic disorders.

Signs of Omega-3 imbalance include:

Dry skin
Dandruff
Frequent urination
Irritability
Attention deficit
Soft nails
Alligator skin
Allergies
Lowered immunity
Weakness
Fatigue
Dry, unmanageable hair
Excessive thirst
Brittle, easily frayed nails
Hyperactivity
“Chicken skin” on backs of arms
Dry eyes
Learning problems
Poor wound healing
Frequent infections
Patches of pale skin on cheeks
Cracked skin on heels or fingertips

Generally, health professionals recommend that one should strive for a fat consumption of about 25-30% as one’s total daily calories. In addition, one should:

  1. Avoid animal fats (saturated)
  2. Eliminate trans-fats (hydrogenated or partly-hydrogenated fats)
  3. Avoid most vegetable oils because they contain Omega 6 fatty acids (corn, safflower, sunflower)
  4. Increase monounsaturated fats (fresh flax oil, extra virgin olive oil, expeller pressed canola oil) and foods containing high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids (leafy greens, flax meal, wild game).
  5. Take Omega-3 supplements (fish oil or flax oil) and possibly GLA (primrose or borage oil).  If you do this, you should also take Vitamin E supplements.
  6. Take vitamin supplements to ensure your system can adequately process your fatty acids.
  7. Take antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E to prevent destruction of fragile fatty acids by free radicals.

Unfortunately, most of us eat more than 30% fat in our Western diet. Some may eat as high as 60-70%. In addition, many people consume a large amount of trans-fats through eating processed foods. Trans-fats are used by food manufacturers because of their long shelf life. They are used in cookies, muffins, crackers, donuts, breads, margarine, mayonnaise and any type of fried foods and processed foods.

Since trans-fats can be incorporated into the brain structure, they are especially bad for pregnant mothers and growing children. One wonders if the increasing rate of childhood behavioural and learning disorders is related to our modern day living of increased consumption of fried and processed foods. Many health conscious people in their strenuous avoidance of saturated fats have unfortunately expose themselves to greater health risk by consuming low fat diet which use trans-fat as a substitute. It is better to eat butter which contains saturated fats than margarine which is full of trans-fats. Trans-fats harden your arteries at a much quicker rate.

In conclusion, if you want to look after your brain, heart and blood vessels, make sure that you take enough Omega-3, less of saturated fats but avoid trans-fats at all cost. Be very careful that you do not inadvertently cause yourself more harm by consuming trans-fats in your effort to pursue a low fat diet. The deleterious effects of trans-fats are worse than those of saturated fats. Check that you or your children are not suffering from an Omega-3 fats imbalance. If your child is suffering from hyperactive, inattentive or learning disorders, supplement with Omega-3 oil which may alleviates the need for medications.


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