What are fatty acids used for in the body?

Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
Fatty acids, in particular essential fatty acids (EFAs) -- alpha-linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6) -- are intimately related to managing inflammation in the body. Fatty acids provide the building blocks for your body to make prostaglandins, agents that increase and decrease inflammation in the body. In a nutshell, saturated fats create the prostaglandins that increase inflammation and omega-6 and omega-3 create the prostaglandins that decrease inflammation. Both inflammation and anti-inflammation are important functions in our bodies, because they are the agents of healing. But as important as it is to be able to inflame (bring healing agents to a site of damage in your body), it is just as important to then be able to anti-inflame, removing those healing agents when they've done their job. We need to have a balance of both.
Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

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Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

Eat Naked with Margaret Floyd for a Sexier You Are you fed up with counting calories? Confused by all the diet hype? Want to eat delicious, real food and look and feel great? Leading...
Fatty acids have many functions in the body, and play a role in:
  • oxygen transport throughout the body
  • providing energy (when glucose, a form of sugar, is not available)
  • development of strong tissues and organs
  • brain functioning
  • lowering cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease
  • healthy looking skin
  • immune system health

Continue Learning about Fats


At 9 calories per gram, fats can add up quickly in your diet, yet experts recommend that you get only 7% of your calorie intake from fat. Fats also affect your cholesterol, and there are both good and bad fats. The best kind of fa...

ts are called unsaturated fats, and can be found in oils like olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds. These fats can help your body get rid of cholesterol. Saturated fats often have had hydrogen added to them to make them more solid. Other saturated fats are found in cream, butter and meats. They can raise your blood cholesterol. Its wise to learn which is which and check nutrition labels to make proper choices.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.