Skip to main content

Why do you need fat in your diet, specifically essential fatty acids?


What are essential fatty acids? 


Essential fatty acids are lipids that are not created in our body hence why it is important to have them in your diet. It is important to consume enough essential fatty acids as it helps regulate and support bodily functions in the immune, cardiovascular, reproductive, and nervous system. 


The two main types of essential fatty acids are omega-3s and omega-6s. The numbers represent the position of the first carbon double bond counting from the tail of the chain.


Here are some foods high in essential fatty acids you can commonly find in grocery stores:



  • Flaxseed oil
  • Chia seed
  • Walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies



  • Canola oil
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil


If we do not consume enough essential fatty acids, signs of essential fatty acid deficiencies can appear. While it is rare, essential fatty acid deficiencies can occur due to certain health conditions disrupting absorption or metabolism.


Symptoms include:

  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Skin scaling
  • Poor wound healing
  • Increased susceptibility to infection


Overall, including a variety of different foods in your diet can help prevent essential fatty acid deficiency and ensure that your body has the proper fats needed to regulate and support bodily functions. 


Reviewed by Annie Tsang, RD