It’s no secret that dietary fat gets a bad rap. For years, reduced-fat products and calorie-restricted diets have been all the rage. What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is that dietary fat, as well as essential fatty acids, are absolutely necessary for whole-body health and wellness. Luckily it’s easy to meet your body’s needs for essential fatty acids1 through a quality diet. So, what exactly are these fatty acids we so desperately need – and why do we need them?
Our Bodies Can’t Produce Essential Fatty Acids
There are actually many different types of fatty acids that our bodies use for energy, the absorption of vitamins and minerals, the production of hormones, and more. And, while our bodies can synthesize most of the fats we need from our diet, our bodies can’t produce two key fatty acids, linoleic (Omega-6) and alpha-linolenic (Omega-3). Because of this, we refer to them as essential fatty acids, and we need to get them from our diet.
Research has shown that essential fatty acids play a significant role in our overall well-being. They can enhance both mental and physical performance, improve our body composition, and even help fight certain diseases. If we don’t consume enough of these essential fatty acids, our bodies exhibit characteristic symptoms like dry mouth, excessive thirst, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, and more.
Getting Essential Fatty Acids in a Keto Lifestyle
The good news is that these two essential fatty acids are actually extremely easy to consume these days. For example, cold-water fish high in fat content like wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and trout are all great sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. You can also indulge in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, mustard greens, or collards. Plus, the ever-popular avocado makes the cut, too.
Omega-6 essential fatty acids are equally easy to consume. Avocado oil and full-fat butter (choose a good option like Kerrygold) are great to cook your food. Go for skin-on chicken thighs, bacon, nuts like walnuts, peanuts and almonds, and mayonnaise among many other options.
You’ll Likely Never Need to Supplement
The best part of essential fatty acids on a keto lifestyle is that it’s incredibly easy to get them without ever having to supplement. Don’t fear fats. Instead, choose fats that are as unprocessed as possible, and avoid fats and oils in processed or packaged foods. Furthermore, remember to follow a balance. You should try to have a two-to-one ratio2 of Omega-6 to Omega-3 whenever possible.