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Health Benefits of a Balanced Essential Fatty Acid Intake

Aug 7, 2008
A balance in essential fatty acids is crucial for many bodily functions. It promotes good overall health as well. Particularly, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human development and achieving good health throughout life. The tissues of the body require omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in order to function properly. There are many conditions that are improved by supplementing with omega-3 oils including high cholesterol levels, prevention of strokes, cancer prevention/treatment, psoriasis and eczema, heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Diets that are high in saturated fat are often linked with high blood-cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Many diet therapies that aim to reduce the build-up of cholesterol and risk of CHD focus mainly on reducing the total and saturated fat intake. Dietary interventions that reduce saturated fat intake by simply three percent could even prevent about 100,000 new cases of coronary heart disease within the next 7 years. Once dietary saturated fats are decreased, they may be replaced with polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids that lower both total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol.

Although a person's genetic inheritance has a lot to do with the likelihood of developing heart disease, it is becoming increasingly clear that modifying your lifestyle can improve the effects of your genes. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., but people can reduce their risk by adopting prevention habits. Some of the most crucial tactics are avoiding smoking, maintaining a desirable blood cholesterol level, keeping blood pressure in the normal range, and regularly engaging in aerobic exercise. Along with these lifestyle habits, alpha-linolenic acid can be taken as supplementation to improve the body's ability to fight heart disease.

Alpha-linolenic acid has also been shown to lower the risk of stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to lower blood pressure by small but significant amounts and have also been able to lower levels of hypertension. Essential fatty acids also have the ability to reduce inflammation of the synovial fluid in the joints, which means that they can help in rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that affects at least forty million people in the United States.

Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that destroys myelin sheaths that cover the nerve and creates inflammation, has symptoms including blurred vision, dizziness, numbness, weakness, tremors, slurred speech, and staggering. Studies have shown that multiple sclerosis is at least partially caused by the deficiency of prostaglandins, which are produced from essential fatty acids.

Psoriasis, a skin disease that is characterized by patches of scaly skin on the knees, elbows, and scalp, but possibly anywhere, is considered essentially incurable by conventional methods, but dietary methods have offered some hope. Because of its rich essential fatty acid content, flaxseed oil is one of the natural therapeutic agents suggested for psoriasis. There is some evidence that suggests that a consistent supply of omega-3 oils may help to prevent fat-sensitive types of cancers, as well as inhibit breast, colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
About the Author
More information on essential fatty acids is available at VitaNet , LLC Health Food Store. http://vitanetonline.com/
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