There are more than 70 different fatty acids taking part in our metabolism. From the nutritional point of view we can divide them into two big groups: non-essential fatty acids, that can be synthesized by our body, and essential, which must be necessarily taken in with what we eat. A correct intake, both qualitatively and quantitatively, must be seriously taken into account, as they have a determining influence on our health.
Essential fatty acids are indispensable for a correct body functioning, They are precursors of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), which are vital for cells and the formation of new tissue as well as for producing prostaglandins, substances that regulate a lot of body processes, for example inflammation and blood coagulation. At the same time, they must be present in our diet so that lipid soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) contained in foods can be absorbed, as well as for regulating cholesterol metabolism.
The best-known essential fatty acids are a-linolenic acid (Omega-3 series) and linoleic acid (Omega-6 series). Nevertheless, there are other members belonging to the Omega group, like Omega-7 and Omega-9, which combine very well with the others, contributing this way to a better health.
OMEGA 3, 6, 7 Y 9
Omega-9: Oleic acid, mono-unsaturated fatty acid that plays an specially important role in regulating cholesterol. It is considered a very important fat for humans, because:
- It increases the amount of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and reduces “bad” cholesterol, with a subsequent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
- It protects the cell membrane of red blood cells.
- It helps reduce high blood pressure (diastolic and systolic).
Omega-6: Linoleic acid, precursor of other fatty acids synthesized by our body in liver: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA); dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA); that acts on the nervous system and helps regulate the hormone system.
Omega-7: palmitoleic acid. An important substance for keeping our natural defence barriers.
Omega-3: a-linolenic acid is the most important and precursor of all other Omega-3 fatty acids synthesized by our cells, like DHA or EPA. All are very important for health, specially for cardiovascular health, brain development and the retina. As well as for modulating inflammation and allergic reactions.