Fats have recently fallen into disgrace. On the one hand, this is certainly true - fatty foods are very caloric, and in pursuit of harmony, each calorie eaten is strictly taken into account. But do not forget that a complete rejection of this class of nutrients can bring serious health problems. After all, their composition includes many components necessary for the normal work of our body: for example, polyunsaturated fatty acids.
What are these connections?
If you recall the school course of organic chemistry, it turns out that fats are compounds of glycerin and fatty acids.
Fatty acids are organic substances in whose molecules the -COOH fragment, which is responsible for the acid properties, is connected to carbon atoms, which are sequentially interconnected. To each carbon atom attached a few more hydrogen, as a result, the design has approximately the following form:
CH3- (CH2-CH2) n-COOH
It happens that in some acids "carbon" is connected to each other not by 1, but by 2 bonds:
CH3- (CH = CH) n-COOH
Such acids are called unsaturated.
If there are a lot of carbon atoms in the compound, they are connected with each other by the second bonds, then such acids are called polyunsaturated, from the Greek "polis", which means a lot.
The latter, in turn, are divided into several groups, namely:
- omega-3 polyunsaturated acids.
To which of them the unsaturated acid belongs, it is determined by the fact which carbon atom counts, if we start with the non-acid end of the molecule (CH3-), the first 2-nd bond will be.
By the way, our body produces omega-9 acids, but representatives of 2 other groups we get, only, from food.
Why are polyunsaturated fatty acids needed?
These compounds are a necessary component for the shell of all animal cells - the so-called cell membrane. Moreover, the more complex the activity of the cell, the higher the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids in its shell. For example, in the cell membrane of the retina of our eye, almost 20% of these acids, and in the shell of subcutaneous fat cells, their content is less than 1%.
In addition to the construction function, these substances are needed for the biosynthesis of endohormones - substances that affect the activity of the cell in which the local hormones "were formed, so to speak." I would like to talk more about them, since these compounds are responsible for the many processes that take place in our body.
So, the endo-hormones control things like the onset or disappearance of pain and inflammation, and also affect the ability of the blood to clot. They are formed, as mentioned above, from the acids already known to us, which are contained in the cell membrane. And, from different groups, hormones are created to solve various problems. So, from the omega-6 acids are produced substances responsible for an adequate response of the human body to damaging environmental factors. Such endohormones increase the coagulability of the blood, which prevents a large loss of it during wounds, and also causes inflammation and pain - unpleasant reactions, but necessary for survival. However, if these substances are overabundant, the process goes out of control: the blood becomes too viscous, pressure jumps, blood clots form in the blood vessels, the risk of heart attack and stroke increases, and allergic reactions increase.
Endo-hormones obtained from omega-3 polyunsaturated acids have the opposite effect: they reduce inflammatory reactions, dilute blood, relieve pain. Moreover, the higher the concentration of omega-3 acids in the body, the less hormones are synthesized from omega-6 acids. However, you should not completely abandon the latter, because in this case hypotension, poor coagulability of blood and a drop in local immunity are provided. Ideally, if the diet for 4 parts of omega-6 will be 1 part of omega-3 fatty acids.
Products rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids
The sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids are:
- most vegetable oils, for example - sunflower, olive, rapeseed, linseed, soybean;
- nuts and seeds - peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds;
- fatty and bold varieties of fish - sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna, capelin, horse mackerel;
- fish fat.
However, it should be taken into account that in plants there are mainly omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and in fish - omega-3 acids.