Both plants and animals can make fats, using building blocks known as fatty acids. The fatty acids we human can make are call nonessential fatty acids because we don’t have to get them from the food we eat. However, there are certain fatty acids that we cannot make ourselves. These are the fats we cannot live without. By eating foods rich in essential fatty acids and supplementing our diet with them, we give ourselves the advantage of improved physical and mental health.
Every cell in the body requires (and thrives on) essential fatty acids for optimal function. Much like the way a factory operates, the cell takes in raw materials from its surrounding fluids and integrates these materials within itself. The outer membrane of the cell is composed almost entirely of fat (with embedded proteins), and this fatty layer outside the cell, called the lipid membrane, helps keep the cell fluid, flexible, and able to function and communicate with neighbouring cells.
Laboratory animals subjected to a diet poor in essential fatty acids develop skin problems, fatty liver, blood lipid and blood sugar irregularities, poor reproductive health, and poorly developed brains and nervous systems. The fear of ingesting fat, caused largely by the medical industry’s misunderstanding of the way fats heal and harm, caused Western societies to consume low fat diets that contribute to growing health concerns: high cholesterol, high triglycerides, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and reduced cognitive function.