The Fatty Acid Profile measures the percentage of fatty acids in red blood cells from a convenient dried blood spot. Measurements include the Omega-3 Index and Omega-3 score to assess for heart disease risk, the ratio of Arachidonic Acid (AA) to Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) as a marker of inflammation, total Omega-3 fatty acids, total Omega-6 fatty acids along with mono-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids and saturated fats. Measurement of fatty acid content in red blood cell membranes shows less biological variability than measurement in plasma or serum.
The essential fatty acid family includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are considered essential because they only come from food. Most of us get plenty of omega-6 fatty acids from grains and grain fed animals, but our diets often lack omega-3 fatty acids. A few of the more important omega-3 fatty acids are: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosohexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). The right balance of omega-3 fatty acids has been proven to reduce the risk of heart attack, and having the right balance of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation.
Trans fatty acids (TFAs or trans fats) are a chemically altered form of good fatty acids. Food manufacturers began altering fatty acids to increase stability to improve shelf life. Saturated fats occur naturally, usually in animal meat, and are solid or semi-solid at room temperature. Unfortunately, we now know that both trans fats and saturated fats raise the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and thus increase risk for heart disease.
Why Get a Fatty Acid Profile Test?
Preventing a heart attack starts with knowing which risk factors you have and correcting what you can. The Fatty Acid Profile helps by measuring your fatty acid levels and letting you know how your numbers stack up compared to a normal population. And, if you start supplementing with fish oils and avoiding those trans and saturated fats, you can always retest and see how well you’re doing.