Since May is the National Stroke Awareness month, we thought we would share the importance of supplementing your diet with Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and how it can be a preventative measure against hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, among other things. EFAs are needed every second by most tissue activities in the body including regulating pressure in the blood vessels, dilating or constricting blood vessels and preventing blood cells from clumping together (blood clots that can be a cause of heart attack and stroke). Although EFAs are “essential” to the body, they are not made by the body and must be supplied through diet or supplementation. The daily amount required by the body should be 10-20% of the total caloric intake. There are two types of EFAs: omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and is found in cold-water fish, fish oil and certain unsaturated vegetable oils. Omega-6 contains linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and is found in raw nuts, seeds, legumes and unsaturated vegetable oils. The most important and needed EFA is linoleic acid. It is also important to know that EFAs need to be consumed in liquid oils (not heated, processed, or cooked) or taken as a nutritional supplement.
EFAs improve the skin and hair, reduce blood pressure, aid in the prevention of arthritis, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as reduce the risk of blood clot formations. It is estimated that 1 million Americans are disabled by peripheral vascular disease (diseases involving the blood vessels in the extremities) each year, according to the Prescription for Nutritional Healing. As the person gets older, he or she also increases the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis of the coronary or cerebral arteries, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. It is also important to consume, through diet or supplementation, antioxidants, which scavenge free radicals that can accumulate in the body from the environment; foods we eat as well as smoking and/or second hand smoke, and cause arterial damage.