Introduction to the science of
oils and fats in the human body
- Two stories must be told on fats and oils, not
just one. Most of our confusion about the effects of fats and oils on
health comes from knowing only half the story. To illustrate this point,
consider this list of specific body functions and health conditions that
exemplify the double story on fats and oils.
- Some fats slow you down, other fats increase your
- Some fats promote cancer, other fats inhibit
- Some fats increase platelet stickiness making a
heart attack or stroke more likely. Other fats make platelets less
sticky, protecting us from heart attacks and strokes.
- Some fats make you fat, and other fats keep you
- Some fats make your skin greasy, others make skin
soft, smooth and velvety.
- Some fats interfere with brain development, but
other kinds of fat are required for brain development.
- Some fats lead to fatty degeneration of the
liver, but other fats benefit the liver and in fact can reverse fatty
degeneration of the liver.
- Some fats impair adrenal function while other
fats are necessary for and improve adrenal function.
- Some fats inhibit immune function while other
fats are required for our immune system.
- Some fats relieve allergies, others worsen them.
- Some fats decrease reproductive function, others
enhance reproductive function, being required for sperm formation as
well as the female reproductive cycle.
- Some fats can cause mutations while other fats
protect our genetic material (DNA) from mutations and other damage.
- Some fats depress us (e.g. seasonal affective
disorder), and other fats lift depression and elevate mood.
- Some fats increase inflammation, other fats
- Some fats interfere with the functions of every cell, tissue, and organ
in the body, while other fats enhance, improve, and protect their functions.
- Some fats clog your arteries, other fats clean your arteries.
- Some fats increase Lp(a) - the highest risk factor for cardiovascular disease
- and other fats decrease this risk factor.
- Some fats increase fats in the blood (serum triglycerides). Other fats
decrease blood fats (you read that right!)
- Some fats lead to atherosclerosis, others prevent and reverse atherosclerosis.
- Some fats improve visual and brain function, other fats impede brain function.
- Some fats deteriorate kidney function, but other
fats improve it.
Omega 3 fatty acids is a term that refers to a group
of three fats known as ALA, EPA and DHA. These are alpha linolenic acid,
eicosapentaenoic acid, and (docosahexaenoic acid.
Common sources of these oils include fish oils, and
some plant oils including sea buckthorn seed, flax seed and hemp oil.
These fatty acids are essential for normal human metabolism, but the
evidence that supplementation can provide benefits to our health is
somewhat unclear. Even so, omega 3 fatty acids are considered to be
"essential fatty acids" in the sense that they cannot be synthesised by
the human body.
It appears that supplementation may be more
important in older people than younger people, where even the body's
limited ability to manufacture these acids is seriously diminished.
states that there is no evidence to support a beneficial role for omega 3
fatty acid supplementation in preventing cardiovascular disease, although
it may diminish the risk of stroke. However, there is definitely a
significant impact on the amount of low-density lipoproteins in the
bloodstream. Furthermore, regular consumption of omega 3 fatty acids
appears to reduce systolic blood pressure by about five mmHg if it's taken
on a long-term basis.
One of the reasons that these benefits accrue is
that EPA and DHA stimulate blood circulation, increase the breakdown of
fibrin, which is intimately involved in the formation of blood clots, and
in addition they reduce triglyceride levels in the blood, and also reduce
blood pressure itself.
Research has also indicated that long chain omega-3
fatty acids may actually have an anti-inflammatory effect, and it appears
that suffers from rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from a reduced level of
pain, perhaps even more so than people who take standard anti-inflammatories.
Furthermore, omega 3 fatty acids have achieved a degree of popularity
(which may not be justified, according to the scientific research) for
children with ADHD and autism. Interestingly enough, there is some
evidence to support a link between polyunsaturated fatty acids and an
improvement in brain function.
To find out more about this fascinating duality
of the effects of fats and oils on the human mind and body, click on one
of the links below.
[ Home ] [ Introduction to the science and effects of oils and fats in the body ] [ The effects of oils, hard fats and sugars in the body ] [ Fats that heal - Fats that kill ] [ Essential fatty acids and weight loss ] [ Balancing Omega 3 and 6 ] [ Essential fatty acid function - alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3): linoleic acid (Omega 6)</font> ] [ Essential fatty acid deficiency ] [ About Udo Erasmus ] [ Contact page ]