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Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are needed to support great health but the body cannot make them itself and therefore we must include them in our diet, preferably replacing unhealthy fats such as margarines, or hydrogenated fats which are often found in processed foods.

Why you need them 
EFAs support adrenal and thyroid activity which in turn supports a healthy immune response.  As well as supporting the nervous system they also promote healthy blood, arteries, and help regulate cholesterol, therefore benefiting the cardiovascular system.  They also help promote youthful skin and hair. EFAs are thought to reduce inflammation and so can support people with inflammatory conditions such as asthma, arthritis or eczema.

What you find them in
EFAs can be found in seeds such as hemp, chia, pumpkin and sunflower as well as leafy vegetables, oily fish like mackerel, and nuts such as pecans and walnuts.  It is best not to heat the nuts and seeds so as not to damage their structure. 

Seasonal Tip
Try to buy walnuts as fresh as possible as EFAs are highly perishable.  Keep in an airtight container in the fridge or a cool, dry, dark place where they can last up to 6 months. Shells should not be cracked and there should be no mould.  Add walnuts to salads, stuffing mix, smoothies or use to top your porridge.  They can also be added to cooked lentils with herbs and olive oil to make a tasty dip.

By Nutritional Therapist Roisin Cooke, lecturer at CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine) in Edinburgh.  

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