What is the Difference between Good Fatty Acids and Trans Fatty Acids

Researchers are finding that good fatty acids act like helping hands, regulating all sorts of inter-cellular processes by bringing nutrients in and getting excrements out more efficiently. In recent years, they've also been linked to cancer and heart disease prevention! Foods like nuts, oils and salmon are recommended additions to every daily diet - in moderation, of course.

There are several types of good fatty acids - unsaturated, monosaturated, polyunsaturated and the Omega-3,6 and 9 fatty acids. While saturated fat can increase cholesterol, researchers are finding that unsaturated fat carries cholesterol to the liver and out of the body. These essential strong acids support the healthy functioning of immune, nervous, reproductive and cardiovascular systems.

When you think of unsaturated fatty acids, think liquid. Olive oil, canola oil and safflower oil are some you may want to use when cooking.

Monosaturated fatty acids (palmitoleic acid and oleic acid) found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, grapeseed oil, oatmeal, popcorn, whole grain wheat and cereal, play a major role in assisting HDL to transport LDL. These fatty acids thereby lower the risk of coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis, while aiding in cancer prevention.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids include soy, vegetable oil, sunflower, soybeans, mayonnaise and margarine. However, small amounts should be used, as high amounts have been linked to oxidization and free radical production, leading to cancer.

Deficiencies of good fatty acids can be very troublesome. If you get sick a lot, have a hard time remembering things, suffer from hypertension or irregular heartbeats, menopausal discomfort, itchy legs or tingling nerves, you may have an Omega-3 (linolenic acid) deficiency.

Seen as heart-healthy and brain-healthy, much has been reported recently regarding "Omega-3" fatty acids found in salmon, mackerel, enriched eggs, flaxseed and walnuts. One tablespoon of uncooked flaxseed oil can give you the minimum Omega-3 / linolenic acid requirement needed throughout the day. The Iowa Women's Healthy Study found that eating nuts more than four times a week effectively reduced the risk of heart disease. In addition, a 2004 study from ten European countries found that modest intake of about 16gm of nuts and seeds had a reduced incidence of colon cancer in women.

Omega-3 fatty acids are said to form cell walls and facilitate inter-cellular processes. They've also been linked to the prevention of colon Cancer, reducing the risk of type I diabetes and having anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, men on high fish diets with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids had an 80% decreased risk of sudden cardiac death.

In a ground-breaking study, Jill Norris PHD of the UCDHSC School of Medicine found: "Our study suggests that higher consumption of total omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of diabetes autoimmunity in children at an increased genetic risk of type 1 diabetes."

By now it's widely known that trans fatty acids - used to increase the shelf life of cookies, crackers, fried food, pastries, margarines and other snack food -- are bad for you and in fact increased LDL in the body. Trans fatty acids are considered so dangerous now that the Pan American Health Organization has created a "Trans Fat Free Americas Task Force" to phase out the use of trans fats in the commercial food industry. Kraft, Mcdonalds, Burger King, Kellogg, Nestle and Pepsi are some of the companies interested in eliminating trans fats from their products.

Essential fatty acids link to everything from preventing cancer to treating ADHD. Adding a little fish, oil or nuts to your diet can be just what your body craves to regulate itself. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."