Good fats, or, essential fatty acids, cannot be produced by the human body, but the body needs them to help support heart health, lower triglycerides, and support brain health. There are two kinds of essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6, and it’s important to understand the difference and incorporate them into your diet.
These essential fatty acids are important for the body, however the body cannot make these omega-6 fatty acids on its own. Most sources of omega-6 fatty acids are found in food you eat, such as lettuce, nuts, vegetable oils and poultry. Omega-6 fatty acids aid in reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and high blood pressure.
Studies show these essential fatty acids support brain health. There are three major omega-3 fatty acids each with distinct health benefits:
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is a structural fat, making up approximately 30 percent of the structural fats in the gray matter of the brain and 97 percent of the omega-3s in the brain. Studies have shown DHA plays a role in infant mental development, brain and nervous system development and function, and supporting the mental function of children and adults throughout life.
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) is a long chain omega-3 fatty acid, and is important for human health. However, unlike DHA, EPA is not stored in significant levels in the brain and retina and is not considered a significant structural part of the body.
- Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is an essential fatty acid (EFA), is a shorter-chain omega-3 fatty acid that serves as a source of energy. It is also a precursor for EPA and DHA and is needed for skin health.