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Everything you need to know about fatty acids

You know that there are good fats and bad fats, but what was the deal? Which fatty acids are good and how many can you consume in a day? Below we explain in detail what saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are, what essential fatty acids are and how to get the right balance!

What are fatty acids?

A fatty acid is a long chain of hydrocarbon compounds. Your body needs fatty acids every day. This is because it uses these fatty acids as building blocks for cells, hormones and bile, to absorb vitamins from food, to protect you from the cold and to convert into energy.

You find fatty acids in food. Fatty acids in food are always a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. But then again, your body does not need an excess of fatty acids. 

In fact, these raise your cholesterol. This is not good for your heart and blood vessels. Unsaturated fatty acids actually improve the removal of cholesterol. Moreover, you are more likely to be overweight if you ingest too many fatty acids and then do not exercise enough.

Essential fatty acids: which fatty acids are good?

Unsaturated fatty acids are good. The less saturated fatty acids from red meat and butter you ingest, the better. 

Therefore, replace saturated fatty acids with unsaturated fatty acids as much as possible. On the other hand, recent research indicates that saturated fat yogurt, cheese and fish are actually beneficial to the heart.

Among unsaturated fatty acids, another difference is made between monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids lower cholesterol more than unsaturated simple fatty acids.

Omega 9 fatty acids are single fatty acids, found in olive oil, for example. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are multiple fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in sunflower oil, cooking fats, among other things. Omega 3 fatty acids are found mainly in nuts, avocado, flaxseed, seaweed and oily fish. All of these fatty acids are essential fatty acids.

That means your body needs them for good health, but cannot make them itself. Therefore, it is important to eat a varied diet so that you get all the fatty acids in balance.

What are saturated fatty acids and why are unsaturated fatty acids better for your body?

Unsaturated fatty acids are the "healthy" or good fatty acids that provide the essential fatty acids.

Because it is difficult to say which fatty acid is among the healthy fatty acids and which is not among the good fatty acids, it is easier to give advice about fatty acids in food. 

The recommendation is to eat fish once a week, preferably oily fish. This is because fish fatty acids have a beneficial effect on the heart. They contribute to the normal functioning of the heart. The beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg of the fish fatty acids EPA and DHA.

Fatty acids in food: how many saturated fatty acids are you allowed per day?

Saturated fatty acids are mainly found in animal products, such as butter, whole milk products and cheese, fatty meats, snacks, cookies, chocolate and cakes. Unsaturated fatty acids can be found, for example, in vegetable oil, liquid margarine, nuts and seeds, avocado and oily fish.

Above you read why saturated fatty acids are less good for your body. The maximum amount of (saturated) fatty acids you can take in per day differs per fatty acid and per person. In a day, about 20-40% of the calories you take in should come from fat.

The recommendation is to get no more than 10% of your daily energy from saturated fat. For an adult woman eating 2,000 kcal per day, for example, this means a maximum of 20 grams of saturated fat per day. As an example, a croissant contains 4.4 grams of saturated fat and a slice of 48+ cheese contains 5.9 grams. 

What about your fatty acid balance?

In the Netherlands, many people eat too much saturated fat and not enough unsaturated fatty acids. The saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are not in balance. It would be nice if you could do a fatty acid test to know how your fatty acid balance is.

Do you already know about yourself that you don't eat oily fish once a week, for example? Then add a supplement to your daily routine if necessary.

At Arctic Blue you will find a wide range of products with omega 3, especially to replenish the good, healthy fatty acids in your body. View our range at your convenience online.