What Foods Are Good Sources of Essential Fatty Acids

Good sources of linoleic acid are safflower oil, sunflower seeds (oil roasted), pine nuts, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, pecans (oil roasted), Brazil nuts, cottonseed oil, and sesame seed oil. Dietary surveys in the United States suggest that the intake of linoleic acid is about 12 to 17 grams for men and 9 to 11 grams for women.

Good plant sources of a-linolenic acid are flaxseed and walnuts—their oils are among the best sources of a-linolenic acid—as are soybean, can-ola, and linseed oil as well as some leafy vegetables. Diet surveys in the United States suggest that typical intakes of a-linolenic acid are about 1.2 to 1.6 grams daily for men and 0.9 to 1.1 grams daily for women.

Therefore the ratio of linoleic acid to a-linolenic acid is about 10 to 1, a point that will become more important later in this chapter and in Chapters 12 and 13.

Marine mammals (for example, whale, seal, and walrus) and the oil derived from cold-water fish (cod liver, herring, menhaden, and salmon oils) provide eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are fatty acids that are made from linolenic acid in marine animals. A lot of interest in the ra-3 PUFA was created when researchers reported that there is a lower incidence of heart disease in some populations, such as Greenlanders. Diet patterns showed high fish consumption in these people, which leads to greater ra-3 PUFA intake and a reduced incidence of heart disease. In addition, there are links between the consumption of fish and cognitive development as well as reducing age-related losses in memory and cognition.

Fish and fish oil supplements are good sources of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

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