fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fats, one of four basic types
of fat that the body derives from food. (Cholesterol, saturated fat, and
monounsaturated fat are the others.) All polyunsaturated fats, including
the omega-3s, are increasingly recognized as important to human health.
too many foods rich in saturated fats has been associated with the development
of degenerative diseases, including heart disease and even cancer. Polyunsaturated
fatty acids, however, are actually good for you. Omega-3s (found primarily
in cold-water fish) fall into this category, along with omega-6s, another
type of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in grains, most plant-based
oils, poultry, and eggs.
"essential?" Omega-3s (and omega-6s) are termed essential fatty
acids (EFAs) because they are critical for good health. However, the body
cannot make them on its own. For this reason, omega-3s must be obtained
from food, thus making outside sources of these fats "essential."
the body needs both omega-3s and omega-6s to thrive, most people consume
far more 6s than 3s. Hardly a day goes by, however, without reports of
another health benefit associated with omega-3s. For this reason, many
experts recommend consuming a better balance these two EFAs.
types of omega-3s. Key omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid
(EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), both found primarily in oily cold-water
fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Aside from fresh seaweed, a staple
of many cultures, plant foods rarely contain EPA or DHA.