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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016

Omega fats: Essential for good health

With the kind of mental work that lawyers do, they need to take special care of their health, for that kind of hard work can lead to serious health problems. Furthermore, the work of a lawyer does not involve a great deal of physical activity, but quite a considerable amount of mental labour coupled with long hours of sitting. This makes lawyers particularly prone to lifestyle problems like blood pressure issues, obesity, diabetes, heart ailments etc. Therefore, it is very important for them to pay good attention to what they eat and how much physical work they do everyday so that their bodies keep well and they could focus on work better.

It is, therefore , important for you to know what kind of food you should eat. These days there is quite a lot of buzz surrounding Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and their health benefits. To begin with, both of these are essential fats, as the name suggests, and both play a crucial role in the proper growth and development of our body. However, our bodies do not have the ability to produce either of them, which is why they need to be taken as part of diet. One may naturally ask what is the distinction between the two fats and how do they benefit the body.

The difference in the way the two have been named refers directly to the way the carbon molecules are structurally connected. While in case of Omega 3 the double bond between carbon-carbon molecules is at third location, whereas in Omega 6 it is at the sixth. But that's just structural difference and may not really appear significant, and quite rightly so. But when it comes to the benefits, there is a world of difference between the two.

Omega 3 fats have blood-thinning properties, which prevents the building up of plaque on the arterial wall, thereby reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. What's more, they also bring down triglycerides and cholesterol, and keep the blood pressure at the optimum. Omega 3 fats also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it helpful for the body to control inflammation cycle, as a consequence of which the patients of the conditions such as arthritis are relieved to a large extent.

Omega 6 fats make the skin, nails and hair healthy giving them the much talked about glow of health. Omega 6 is also known for maintaining hormonal balance and also a healthy and relatively happy state of mind. Omega 6 fats regulate metabolic rate and in case of women, these are particularly helpful in reducing menstrual pain.

Studies undertaken in the area of fatty acids have shown that a proper balance between these two essential fats has to be maintained in order to keep the body healthy. Experts advice that one should ensure that one has four parts of Omega 6 for each part of Omega 3. In other words, the ratio between Omega 6 and Omega 3 should be 4:1, but the modern day life has brought the ratio to 20:1 in favour of Omega 6. So, for each portion of Omega 3 we take 20 portions of Omega 6, and this is largely on account of our love for fast food and processed food. This also means that we need to pay considerable attention to what we eat so that this massive imbalance could be reversed.

Omega 6 fats are found in oils like sunflower oil, hemp oil, corn oil. For Omega 3 one could turn to cold-water fish such as tuna, hoki, mackerel, herring and salmon. These fatty fish have considerable DHA (Docosahexanoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). DHA and EPA are two kinds of Omega 3 fatty acids in addition to ALA (Alpha Linoleic Acid), which is mostly found in plant sources such as fruits and vegetables. Walnuts, flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, soy, cauliflower, broccoli, and berries, such as strawberries, are rich sources of ALA. Therefore, those who are strict vegetarians need not feel disheartened. Although it takes a bit long for the body to breakdown ALA into DHA and EPA, but once the body is done with it, the Omega 3 absorbed by the body is sufficient for the needs of an average individual.

Canola oil is rich in Omega fat, and it also contains both Omega 3 and Omega 6 acids in the ratio of 2:1, which is the ideal ratio between unsaturated and saturated fats. Therefore, using canola oil can go a long way in reversing the imbalance of Omega fat in our diets.

Soybean Oil is also similar in terms of the presence of both kinds of Omega fat. However, while consuming Soybean oil what must be remembered is that it has to be consumed in the unrefined state for maximum benefit because the process of refining the oil turns unsaturated fats into hydrogenated fats, which simply means taking away what is best in soybean oil.

Pumpkin Seed Oil, too, contains both Omega 6 and Omega 3 and has unsaturated fat in sufficient amount. The Omega 6 and Omega 3 ratio in pumpkin seed oil is 3:1.

Walnut Oil, which is taken from walnuts, has Omega 3 and Omega 6 in the ratio of 1:10, but needs to be taken in the unrefined state much like soybean oil for much the same reason.

Sunflower Oil has Vitamin E in sufficient quantity in addition to Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. However, when it comes to the quantity of EPA and DHA, sunflower oil lags behind flaxseed oil and canola oil by far. But it is still one of the most popular cooking oils.

The key to good health is not taking Omega fats in good quantity but to balance Omega 6 and Omega 3. The cause of concern is not lack of Omega fats in food, but the imbalance in their intake.

Omega 6 fats are generally found in most of the food we take. The same goes with Omega 3 fats, but the ratio of the two is not ideal for human consumption. Therefore, one needs to be careful regarding it. It is a good idea to increase those food items in your diet that have greater quantity of Omega 3 because all other fatty foods have Omega 6 in greater quantity. If it is difficult for you to take Omega 3 rich foods in your diet, you could simply try using a fish oil supplement manufactured by a reliable company. Some people consider fish supplements better than taking fish in food because of the cleaning and distillation process involved, as in case of eating fish some harmful toxins like lead and arsenic may find their way into one's body because some of the fish one eats might have come from dirty waters. But such danger is taken care of to a large extent if the fish is properly cleaned and cooked well.

Balancing Omega fat intake might be slightly difficult in the beginning, but it is certainly worth the effort.


Note: This is not a piece of authoritative medical opinion or advice

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