Your body benefits from essential fatty acids. The two primary essential fatty acids are popularly known as omega-6 and omega-3. Your body doesn’t produce them on its own, so you have to eat certain foods to get them.
So what should you eat in order to get essential fatty acids into your body? For omega-3’s, green foods are great, such as kale, collards, chard, parsley, etc. Dark green veggies as well as cereal grasses (wheat/barley) will provide your body with omega-3’s. You can also get them from flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybeans and tofu. As for omega 6’s, you can consume nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and dairy.
How do they help your body? Essential fatty acids help your body form healthy cell membranes as well as regulate blood pressure, liver function, immune/inflammatory responses, blood clotting, etc. They also help with proper thyroid and adrenal activity and the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. As if that’s not enough, they also support healthy skin and hair, help breakdown cholesterol, and help with hormone production. No wonder they’re called essential, right?
Related to the idea of essential fatty acids are the terms “saturated” and “unsaturated” fat. Saturated fats have no double bonds in their chemical structure and are a solid consistency at room temperature. You’d find them in animal meats like beef and pork, as well as plant oils, dairy products (cheese, butter), processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, sausages), and pre-packaged snacks such as chips, cookies and pastries. Ideally, limit these foods to 5% or less of your daily caloric intake so you don’t overdo it on saturated fat. If you consume too much saturated fat over time, you might end up with heart disease. Unsaturated fats contain one or more double bonds in their chemical structure and they’re typically liquid at room temperature. You can get unsaturated fat from nuts, salmon, tuna, olives and avocados. Unsaturated fat is considered “good” for you, so eat some of the aforementioned foods in your diet to improve your overall health.
It can be challenging to figure out what to eat and what to avoid, but the general rule is that natural foods are better for your body than pre-packaged foods that may have added sugar, salt and/or fat in them.