The Weatherhead PET Imaging Center

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids are two specific fats, linoleic and alpha linolenic fatty acids, essential to body functions in very small amounts. They are required in small amounts in food since the body cannot make them. For people consuming less than 10 to 15 gms of fat per day, I recommend that the small amount of fat consumed contain a daily source of essential fatty acids by one of several alternative regimens as follows:

(a) one teaspoon (4.7 gms fat) of soybean oil or four soya lecithin capsules each containing 1.2 gms of oil, either of which provides 2.4 gms of linoleic and 0.38 gms of alpha-linolenic acid, the minimum essential fatty acids requirements.

(b) one teaspoon (4.7 gms fat) of walnut oil providing 2.4 gms of linoleic and 0.25 gms of alpha linolenic acid in addition to a fish meal once per week or a fish oil capsule once per day or an extra teaspoon of walnut oil to increase to the alpha-linoleic acid intake.

(c) one teaspoon (4.7 gms fat) of canola oil containing 1.22 of linoleic acid and 0.47 gms of alpha-linolenic acid in addition to the small amounts of linoleic acid in vegetables since vegetable oils are rich in linoleic acid, or two teaspoons of canola oil.

Excess amounts of all these oils raise LDL with potential adverse cardiovascular risk. Olive oil contains very little essential fatty acid and is less harmful than saturated fats. However, excess olive oil adds calories to the diet and is not specifically beneficial in excess.