Omega-3 fatty acids
Linolenic acids, commonly known as omega-3 fats, are produced by plants, but can be found in some animals such as fish as they consume algae and plankton. They are also called essential fatty acids, because the human body cannot make them. In the modern age, people tend to upset the balanced omega-3:omega-6 ratio that their bodies naturally desire. The reason for this is the high consumption of saturated fats and trans-fats, which have been linked to cardiovascular ailments (1). However, not all saturated fats are associated with disease. In fact, coconut oil – a highly saturated fat – has been found to be beneficial to both the inside and the outside of the body; for example, it has been shown to speed up wound healing (2).
Oils that contain omega-3 (polyunsaturated) fatty acids include olive oil and flaxseed oil. It has been shown that omega-3 fats can have an anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effect on the human body as well as lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and arthritis (3) (4) (5). As if this was not enough, omega-3 fats also play a role in preventing the occurrence of dermatitis, psoriasis, fatigue, poor memory and stunted growth in children as these conditions can manifest if a person’s diet is insufficient in omega-3 fats (6) (7). From a biochemical perspective, it is understood that unsaturated fatty acids increase the fluidity of the cell membrane that aids in the transport of nutrients to the cell whereas saturated fatty acids lead to a rigid hydrocarbon tail (8). For detailed and supporting information please visit the sources below.
(8) Bettelheim, F. et al. (2010). Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry.Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, p. 552.