This is of vital importance to our health; they are called essential because they are just that. These are fats we must obtain from foods in order to be healthy. They are unsaturated fats.
What do they do?
Help decrease pain and inflammation
Help mental performance, improve learning and help age-related memory decline and co-ordination
Enhance mood, helping depression
Help with fluid retention
Help high blood pressure
Eczema and P.M.S.
Promote healthy, youthful skin and hair
Support proper thyroid and adrenal activity
Promote healthy blood, nerves and arteries
Crucial in transport and breakdown of cholesterol
They hold oxygen in our cell membranes
If you experience any of the following, think E.F.A’S (essential fatty acids):
poor co-ordination, infections, impaired vision, breast pain, dry skin, arthritis, excessive thirst, dyslexia, poor memory, tingling in arms and legs.
And where do we get these fabulous foods?
- We get them in oils: safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame, walnut, soybean, pumpkin, wheatgerm, hemp and other oils. We need 2 teaspoons or a dessertspoon daily, or a tablespoon of seeds ground. The oil can be used in salad dressings, added to milkshakes and even put over vegetables as they are being served.
- Oily fish, particularly herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna. Ideally 3 or 4 times a week if not taking fish oil supplements. Flax oil is a good substitute for vegetarians who need a flat tablespoon of flax seeds or a dessertspoon of flaxseed (linseed) oil. Flax seeds can be ground, best ground before use, or for a couple of days. Another good way is to put a dessertspoon of seeds into a bowl at bed-time, cover with water and in the morning stir all of this into your cereal, porridge or yoghurt, or just drink it. The seeds soften down well and the oil comes out of the seed.
- Nuts. A good source, but best eaten in small amounts as a bit difficult to digest. If you think that nuts put on weight, almonds are said to help weight loss!
- A diet which is rich in plants that yield seeds, grains, legumes (lentils, beans etc.) vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. This is not necessarily a vegetarian diet, but meat eaters do need to be careful to get sufficient E.F.A’s.
Some things to note:
There are vitamins we need to help the essential fatty acids function well, particularly Vitamin C, Vitamins B3 and B6 and Magnesium and Zinc.These can be got from a daily multi-mineral and vitamin, should you be doubtful of getting sufficient nourishment from your daily diet.
When we extract the oil from seeds, then light, air and heat destroy them. In seed form they can keep for years without spoiling. Linseed/flaxseed oil has the shortest shelf life: choose one which gives the date of extraction as well as the best-before date.
If you do not wish to buy good quality unrefined oils, then the best way is to buy the seeds. Refined oils are not good news. We can put pumpkin, sunflower, flax or sesame seeds in salads, on soups, stir-fries, stews, yoghurt. Put a sprinkle of Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) over mixed seeds and grill a few minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times so they do not burn; very tasty as a snack.
Fats that Heal Fats that Kill
by Udo Erasmus (1993) Alive Books. This is scientific but readable and packed with great information.
Flax Oil as a true aid against arthritis, heart infarction, cancer and other diseases
by Dr Johanna Budwig, Apple Publishing Company 1994. This is a small but inspiring book.