With unsaturated fatty acids for a balanced diet
Due to the global obesity “pandemic” and the accompanying global desire to lose weight most people view fats as enemies, however it is important to know that just like proteins, fats are also indispensable for a healthy diet.
Fats are actually different compounds built of fatty acids, and the only thing they have in common is they are composed of the same elements: – carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. We often hear about “bad” fats, although explicitly healthy or unhealthy fatty acids do not exist, only consuming them in the wrong ratio. Problems begin when we consume less of the high quality, “healthier” unsaturated fatty acids, while we tend to consume too much of the “less healthy” saturated fatty acids, which characteristically enter our body in food of animal origin. So it is worthwhile considering how individual fatty acids affect our body, in order to enable us to pay attention to our diet.
Characteristically we eat little of the polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 which can be found in sea fish and plant seed oils. However, substances produced from the fatty acids belonging to this group for example, EPA and DHA in addition to participating in normal cell functions also alleviate inflammatory processes, prevent the aggregation of platelets, reduce blood lipid levels and blood pressure and hence they may have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, they play an important role incerebral development.
Studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acid intake of pregnant and nursing mothers may be determinative in the early neural development of the child which after all, affects intelligence. A 2007 study examined the degree of correlation between amounts of seafood consumed during pregnancy and the IQ of the child. The study concluded that in children of mothers consuming less than 340 grams per week, the risk of coordination disorder as well as language and behavior problems increased. In another study performed with the participation of 4-year-old children, proved that omega-3 intake during pregnancy was in direct proportion to the later mental abilities of the children. When the correlation between diet and behavior in children above 6 was examined, the results suggested that low omega-3 levels were accompanied by sleep disorders and temper tantrums when compared to their peers who consumed omega-3.
More studies have found a connection between depression and low omega-3 fatty acid intake, so it may be suitable for complementing the treatment of depression and in helping to maintain a balanced diet as far as fatty acids are concerned.
The kind of role omega-3 may play in complementing the therapy of inflammatory conditions has also been studied. The results are promising both in treating rheumatic arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.
If we take into account that sea fish may be contaminated with heavy metals, oil, and pathogens , if we would like to apply omega-3 as a cure, it is recommended to ingest it in the form of dietary supplements. They are usually plant seed oil based formulae or sea fish oils, which contain useful omega-3 fatty acids and other additional substances. However, it makes sense to pay attention to the ratio and in quality products one unit of omega-3 fatty acid is combined with the least amount possible of other fatty acids. Due to the latest technology, today concentrates are available, which contain the same amounts of omega-3 fatty acid, with less “superfluous” oil. The lower the amount of “superfluous” oil, the more valuable the formula is.
Medical biochemistry– szerk-editor.: Ádám V. Medicina Könyvkiadó Rt., Budapest 2004.
Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study – J. R. Hibbeln MD, J. M Davis MD, The Lancet, Volume 369, Issue 9561, Pages 578 - 585, 17 February 2007
Therapeutic use of omega-3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder - Balanzá-Martínez V, Fries GR, Colpo GD - Expert Rev Neurother. 2011 Jul;11(7):1029-47.
Omega-3 fatty acids in boys with behavior, learning, and health problems - Laura J. Stevensa, Sydney S. Zentallb, Marcey L. Abateb, Physiology & Behavior Volume 59, Issues 4-5, April-May 1996, Pages 915-920
Maternal Supplementation With Very-Long-Chain n-3 Fatty Acids During Pregnancy and Lactation Augments Children’s IQ at 4 Years of Age - Ingrid B. Helland, MD, Lars Smith, PhD, PEDIATRICS Vol. 111 No. 1 January 1, 2003
Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease - Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD, FACN, J Am Coll Nutr December 2002 vol. 21 no. 6 495-505
Omega-3 polyunsaturated essential fatty acids are associated with depression in adolescents with eating disorders and weight loss - Swenne I, Rosling A, Tengblad S, Vessby B., Acta Paediatr. 2011 Jul 6