Essential fatty acids (EFA) refer to a group of fatty acids that the body can not produce and which must be ingested through food or supplements.
They differ from non-essential ones (saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids), beacuse the lattercan be obtained by the organism from proteins, carbohydrates or alcohol)
Walnuts are high in EFA
Types of essential faty acids
There are two types of essential fatty acids:
- Essential fatty acids omega-3 (linolenic acid): Among these we have the ones from vegetable origin, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is derived from seed oils or vegetable with dark green leaves, such as linseed oil or purslane, respectively.
Main properties of linoleic acid: it's antiarthritic, antiesclerotic, antiinflammatory, antiallergic, anti-diabetic, anti-cystic, hypocholesterolemic...
- Essential fatty acids omega-6 (linoleic acid) : In this group the most important element is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It can be found in the seed oil and black currant (cassis oil), borage or evening primrose. Valerian, borage contain much of the same principle in every part of the plant. (More information about this component in the listing above)
Photo of evening primose. The oil of the seeds is rich in omega 6
Other omega-6 fatty acids are:
Arachidonic acid, which can be found in plants such as brussels sprouts , garlic, carrot, soy or sesame oil. It has anti-dermatitis, hepatoprotective, immuno-stimulatory and anticancer properties.
Dihomo-linoleic acid, that has been found in evening primrose oil.
Foods rich in linoleic acidin order of importance
(Formula = CH3 (CH2) 4 (CH = CHCH2) 2 (CH2) 6CO2H)