Foods and omega-3 fatty acids

Foods and omega-3 fatty acids

Inside every cell of our body there are fats that perform important functions: fatty acids, with energy, metabolic and structural functions.

Fatty acids are the precursors of substances similar to powerful local hormones (eicosanoids), important because they control inflammation, the immune response, blood pressure.

Fatty acids can be classified into fatty acids villages (SFA) e unsaturated. The latter differ in fatty acids monoinsaturi (MUFA) e polyunsaturated (PUFA).

Among the essential fatty acids, which must be taken with food, arachidonic acid (AA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are considered very important for the well-being and health of the whole organism.

AA belongs to the class of omega-6 fatty acids, EPA belongs to the class of omega-3s. In fact, what matters most is the maintaining the right balance between omega-6 and omega-3.

The quantity and quality of essential fatty acids introduced through the diet influences the quantity of omega-3 and omega-6 present in our body. Maintaining the right balance between omega-6 and omega-3 is of great importance in the prevention of some pathologies (eg cardiovascular diseases). Furthermore, it is important in particular physiological states such as pregnancy and aging.

The ideal values The ratio between these two fatty acids (AA / EPA) also varies according to the age group and according to whether or not essential fatty acid supplements are taken.

An ideal AA / EPA ratio involves:

- greater efficiency of the immune system;

- an inhibition of inflammatory phenomena (which are the basis of many disabling pathologies);

- a reduction in the level of circulating triglycerides;

- a regression of the atherosclerotic process.

It is believed that the optimization of the AA / EPA ratio is able to lead to an improvement in the state of general psychophysical well-being.

According to the most recent scientific research, when the AA / EPA ratio is higher than the ideal values, it is necessary to modify one's diet in order to increase the level of omega-3 or more simply to supplement one's diet with high-dose omega-3 compounds. (e.g. fish oil). However, it is important not to exceed in the consumption of omega-3s. In fact, it has been seen that their excessive consumption could, in some cases, reduce the functions of the immune system, exposing them to infections.


Foods rich in omega-3s

The percentage of the omega-3 content of cereal products is very low and the amount of antioxidants is practically zero. This observation does not mean that we must abolish cereal products from our diet, but simply control and moderate their consumption in favor of foods rich in essential fatty acids of the omega-3 class.

Omega-3s are present in particular foods, especially in products of fish origin (the richest are salmon, sardine, herring, mackerel and tuna). It should be remembered that cooking fish products significantly changes the content of fatty acids to the detriment of omega-3s, this is the case with frying.

Omega-3s are also present in some plants and in some animal foods such as chicken, turkey and eggs, even if it should be remembered that in meats the omega-6 / omega-3 ratio is decidedly in favor of the former. On the other hand, omega-3s are practically absent in sausages and cheeses.

It is interesting to point out that farm animals have an almost unchanged omega-6 / omega-3 ratio against those in the free state, but present a higher amount of saturated fatty acids, so from a health point of view they can represent a danger for the onset of various pathologies (eg cardiovascular pathologies).

The omega-3 fatty acid most present in vegetables isalpha-linolenic acid, present mainly in green leafy vegetables, legumes, dried fruit, linseed and soy oils, rapeseed extract. This fatty acid is transformed into EPA and DHA. The latter are crucial for the proper functioning of the brain, retina and gonads and carry out a protective action against the onset of cardiovascular diseases.

An excessive decrease in omega-3 fatty acids can be characterized by neurological symptoms, reduced visual acuity, skin lesions, growth retardation, reduced learning skills.

The level of daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, recommended by the human nutrition company and country, in a healthy adult subject, it is around 1-1.5 grams. After a period of 2-3 months, integration should bring the value of the relationship around ideal values. Once this level has been reached, it is essential to optimize the intake of omega-3 in order to maintain the AA / EPA level around the ideal value.

The integration must be done taking into account the patient's clinical history, pathologies and particular physiological states, such as pregnancy, lactation, old age. For these reasons It is always advisable to contact your doctor or a nutrition specialist to evaluate the right supplement both in qualitative and quantitative terms.

Before starting a fatty acid supplementation therapy it is very important to know your oxidative state. It is scientifically proven that, in the presence of oxidative stress and in the absence of a good antioxidant defense, free radicals oxidize fats. Oxidized fats are dangerous for arterial health. So, in this case, the intake of fatty acids would be far from beneficial.


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