The subject of biochemistry is one that most people tend to stay away from, because it is one of the most difficult subjects out there.
However in today’s world where the field of nutrition is ever expanding and becoming more and more complex it is essential that we know a little about it so we can choose a diet that is healthy and suits our lifestyle as well as our fitness goals.
Today I will give you a little information about Triglycerides and how they affect you.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
A Triglyceride is an essential molecule for our survival and it has many functions in the human body. A triglyceride molecule is composed of a glycerol carbon backbone and the fatty acids.
(Tri meaning three and glyceride meaning fat or lipid chain).
The diagram below shows a basic triglyceride. The bolded Cs are the carbon backbone while the other Cs are the fatty acid chains. Each of those carbon atoms are bonding or sharing electrons with each-other to stabilize themselves.
With the Carbon in the centre of the glycerol backbone being the only exception, they are also sharing electrons with two hydrogen atoms each, but those Hydrogens are not shown on this diagram.
Chemists don’t usually show hydrogen in their diagrams, instead they assume any unused bond is terminated by a hydrogen atom.
Sometimes Carbons in a fatty acid chain will bond twice with it’s neighbour sharing two electrons. This is either called a cis bond or a trans bond.
I will talk about trans bonds another day. A cis bond in a fatty acid is what gives it the specific properties that regulate much of the human body, and the function of the Triglyceride depends on where the cis bond occours.
The naming system for Triglycerides is quite simple. First ignore the Glycerol backbone for now, the next carbon over is the first or alpha carbon.
The last carbon is called the Omega carbon. As you can probably tell the naming system is based on Greek letters.
Now all you do is count how many bonds are in between the Omega Carbon and the cis bond. The Diagram below shows an Omega-3 fatty acid
This diagram shows an Omega-6 fatty acid
Omega-3s and Omega-6s have plenty of functions in the human body.
Omega-6s have pro-inflammatory properties. They help increase inflammation when you need it. Without them you would not be able to heal yourself properly when you get a cut or an infection or take any other kind of physical damage.
Omega-3s are the opposite, they have anti-inflammatory properties. They make inflammation go away after it’s job is finished, which keeps chronic inflammation from becoming a problem.
This is why it is so important to have a diet that balances both Omega-3s and Omega-6s.
This brings is to the question of the day. “How much should you have of each?” Well there is no real answer to that.
Depending on who you talk to whether it be a biochemist or a nutritionist everyone will give you a different answer. Some will say that you need a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6 others will say a 3:1 ratio, still others might say 5:1 or even 10:1.
No-one really agrees on what the right amount is, but one thing is clear. We need at least as much Omega-3s as we do Omega-6s.
The big problem is that in the typical North American diet contains a ratio of about 1:26 Omega-3s to Omega-6s, meaning we have 26 times more Omega-6s than we do Omega-3s.
With this kind of ratio it’s no wonder we have chronic inflammation being a major concern in society today
This is a fixable problem however, all we need to do is eat foods that are higher in Omega-3s and try to avoid foods that are high in Omega-6s.
So here is a list of just some foods that are high in Omega-3s:
Flax seeds, Salmon, Fish oil, Chia seeds, Caviar, Herring, Sardines, Cod liver oil, Radishes, Broccoli and some types of nuts such as butternuts and Walnuts.
Here are a list of foods you may have in your kitchen that you should think twice about:
Safflower oil, Grapeseed oil, poppyseeds, corn, mayo, soybeans, sesame, soy and peanut oil.
The above lists are just a few of the foods high in Omega-3s and Omega-6s, there are many more out there.
Practising things like reading labels and searching for cooking oils high in Omega-3 and low in Omega-6 will help you balance your intake of Triglycerides.