As one of the three macronutrients that provide your body with energy, dietary fat gets a lot of bad press. In fact, dietary fat is crucial for optimal health—you just have to know how to choose the right kind of fats. In general, saturated fats should be avoided; instead, choose a wide variety of plant-based polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Specific types of Omega-3 and Omega-6, such as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and LA (linoleic acid) are actually essential because they cannot be synthesized in the body and can only be obtained from what you eat. These essential fatty acids are part of critical pathways for many biological processes. Traditional plant-based sources of Omega-6 such as olive, sunflower, canola and sesame can be refined and offer limited polyunsaturates such as GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which can provide additional health benefits and are an important part of a healthy diet.
Based on convincing evidence from epidemiologic studies and randomized human clinical trials, the World Health Organization recommends your daily intake of polyunsaturated fats range from 6 to 11% of your total calories to help:
The role of Omega-3s in supporting cardiovascular health is well-established—these fatty acids are essential fuels for mechanical, electrical and synthetic activities of the heart. Independent studies show that Omega-3 and phytosterol intake is linked to the management of healthy cholesterol levels; recent studies show a synergistic and complementary effect on cholesterol management when both Omega-3 and phytosterols are taken together.
Additionally, volumes of research on Omega-3s have also shown they play an important role in:
Hemp seed oil: considered by many to be nature’s most perfectly balanced oil, hemp seed oil is delivers a 3:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. Hemp seed oil also contains oleic acid (Omega-9), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and stearidonic acid, a combination that is unique among edible seed oils. Hemp seed oil’s GLA is significant because of its role in eicosanoid and prostaglandin biosynthesis—both compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, hemp seed oil contains antioxidants like Vitamin E and carotene, phytosterols, and chlorophyll, which gives it a deep green color. As a bonus, hemp seed oil has a pleasant, nutty flavour that goes well with most recipes.
Flax seed oil: one of the richest sources of Omega-3 in the plant kingdom, more than half the fat in flax seeds is alpha linolenic fatty acid (ALA). A perfect complement to hemp seed oil, flax seed oil delivers a 0.3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-9.
Pumpkin seed oil: highly unsaturated and stable, pumpkin seed oil provides Omega-9 and -6, in addition to being an especially rich source of antioxidant vitamin E and carotenoids.
Coconut seed oil: while virgin coconut oil contains 90% saturated fatty acids, it also contains high amounts of medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily digested, providing an immediate source of energy. Studies suggest medium-chain triglycerides may improve the absorption of Vitamin E in your body. Coconut oil is also rich in free-radical scavenging phenolic acids.
Antioxidant oil blend
Green tea seed oil: featuring a nutritional profile similar to olive oil, green tea seed oil is also rich in antioxidant phytosterols, polyphenols and vitamin E. Green tea seed oil does not contain caffeine.
Pomegranate seed oil: nearly 95% punicic acid—a conjugated linolenic acid (Omega-5)—pomegranate seed oil demonstrates strong, antioxidant activity through vitamin E (alpha, delta and gamma tocopherols) and phytosterol content (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol).
Black cumin seed oil: used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, black cumin seed is rich in antioxidants, especially beta-sitosterol. Thymoquinone—the active compound identified in black cumin seed— displays strong, natural antibacterial activity and is the subject of numerous scientific studies.
Black raspberry seed oil: higher in tocopherols than many nuts and seeds, black raspberry seed oil contains four different forms of Vitamin E (alpha and gamma tocopherol, beta and gamma tocotrienol).
Blueberry seed oil: featuring one of the highest ORAC scores among berry seed oils, blueberry seed oil is an antioxidant powerhouse, boasting a wealth of carotenoids and total phenols.
Cranberry seed oil: with more total sterols than most other berry seed oils, cranberry seed oil has a unique concentration of beta and gamma tocotrienols, making it a valuable source of vitamin E.
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