STALKING THE ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

Here, from NOHA NEWS of Fall 1987 (slightly modified), are some important fatty acids and some of their food sources:

omega-3 fatty acids

alpha-linolenic acid (18:3)

high in linseed (flaxseed) and canola oils
moderate in soybean and walnut oils

eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5)

high in the fat of cold ocean fish like salmon and mackerel

docosahexaenoic acid (22:6)

high in the fat of cold ocean fish like salmon and mackerel

 

Omega-6 fatty acids

linoleic acid (18:2)

high in safflower, sunflower, and corn oils
moderate in soybean and walnut oils

gamma linolenic acid (18:3)

high in evening primrose oil

arachidonic acid (20:4)

high in peanut oil and meat

The first number in parenthesis is the number of carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain; the second number is the number of unsaturated centers in the chain. Thus docosahexanoic acid is the longest and most unsaturated of these examples of fatty acids.


Modern pollution reaches even the distant, cold oceans.


At this point some of you will be saying to yourselves, "But pesticides and other contaminants end up in fatty tissues. Why should we be eating the fat of cold ocean fish to get our omega-3s?" You have a point: modern pollution reaches even the distant, cold oceans.

For this dilemma there is no good answer only a trade-off until society as a whole or as its more responsible members, decide to modify its overuse of toxic chemicals. In the words of Crawford and Marsh,

We need above all to understand that the care of our environment is not an optional extra, a harmless pastime for the well-fed middle classes, but a central task for our age. If we fail in that we fail in everything, for we are a part of that environment.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XVI, No. 4, Fall 1991, page 6.