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Active substances occurring in plants, part III

16 August 2021

Fats - cells use digested fats as a source of energy and to build various fat compounds, e.g. involved in the formation of cell membrane elements.

Fats are essential for the synthesis of, for example, steroid hormones and bile salts.

In plants, they are mainly found in the form of oils. They contain unsaturated fatty acids.

Essential unsaturated fatty acids (EFAs) - as the name suggests - are essential in the daily diet, because they have many important functions in the body, including they are responsible for the proper functioning of the heart, improve mental capacity and support the immune system. The human body is unable to produce them, therefore they should be supplied with food.

Fatty compounds are also present in nuts, elderberry seeds, and sea buckthorn berries.

Their presence prevents the development of atherosclerotic processes taking place in blood vessels.

Unsaturated fatty acids are divided into monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), the representative of which is oleic acid (from the omega-9 group).

They help to lose unnecessary kilograms - they will prove themselves especially in the fight against abdominal obesity. The second group of EFAs are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), called PUFAs, represented by the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

The basic omega-3 acid is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) - a precursor to DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

In turn, the basic acid from the omega-6 group is LA (linoleic) acid - a precursor of arachidonic acid. The latter, together with eicosapentaenoic acid, is a precursor of the so-called tissue hormones, and DHA acid is a component of brain cells, eye retina, sperm cells and determines their proper functioning.

Moreover, sufficient DHA acid content in the diet of pregnant women and infants guarantees the proper development of the central nervous system in newborns and children.

In addition, omega-3 fatty acids regulate the work of the cardiovascular system - blood coagulation (and thus prevent the formation of vascular clots), blood pressure levels, as well as triglycerides and cholesterol (probably increase the synthesis of bile acids from cholesterol and contribute to its biliary excretion), and thus prevent heart attacks, atherosclerosis and strokes. These acids also prevent cancer because they inhibit the growth of tumors, the multiplication of neoplastic tissue, including its spread.

Unsaturated fatty acids regulate the digestive tract and strengthen the immune system, thus stimulating it to fight against pathogenic microorganisms that attack the body.

In addition, unsaturated fatty acids are secreted by the sebaceous glands, which makes the skin acidic and thus deadly for bacteria that would try to penetrate the body through the skin.

Unsaturated fatty acids also protect against arthritis, relieve pain and stiffness associated with rheumatic diseases.

They also facilitate the absorption of calcium, which is why they are irreplaceable in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

The next post is dedicated to the ketogenic diet in reference to the topic of healthy fats :)