Thursday, 26 August 2010

Fats And EFA

Fats are an essential component of any diet. They are needed for nutrient absorption (including such fat-soluble vitamins as A and D), maintenance of cell membranes, nerve transmission, bile flow, proper brain function and many many other processes in the body. However not all fats are beneficial for our bodies. Fats can be roughly divided into good and bad. The group of good fats is comprised of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds. The bad fats are made up of saturated fats and trans-fats.
The Bad Fats:
Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products, such as meat and dairy, but also in small quantities in nuts and palm oil. Saturated fats are linked to increased cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Trans-fats are not found in nature but were created by the scientists. Because our (or our parrots') body doesn't know what trans-fats are they are not processed or removed from the system but continue to circulate in the arteries and potentially form plaques which contribute to coronary heart disease. Heart disease is not only the leading cause of deaths in humans but also is on the increase in parrots. Moreover consumption of transfats increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity and liver dysfunction in humans. If they have such a profound and negative effect on humans' health, then they are almost certainly can cause all these illnesses and more in our companion parrots. For this reason please never feed your parrot any junk food, including crisps, tortilla chips, commercially produced pop corn, ice-cream, cakes, sausages etc.
General guidelines is to avoid feeding our parrots any "Bad Fats"
The Good Fats:
Let's now talk about the good fats, essential for our health. The good unsaturated fats are a source of essential fatty acids called Omega 3 and Omega 6 . They are called essential because every cell in the body needs these fats to function but they can't be produced by the body so must come from food. These fatty acids have a range of health benefits, including improved function of cardiovascular system, reduce the risk of cancers, and even are able to alleviate depression and improve the brain function.
The best sources of good fats and EFA are:
Rich in Omega 3:
Flaxseed oil (flaxseed oil has the highest linolenic (Omega 3) content of any food), flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.), wheat germ oil.

Rich in Omega 6:
Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds,  pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds (raw), olive oil, olives, borage oil, evening primrose oil, sunflower seeds and unrefined sunflower oil, safflower seeds and unrefined safflower oil.

It is important to remember that all foods high in fat are also high in calories. 1 gram of carbohydrates and proteins provide around 4 calories, whereas 1gram of fat provides 9 calories. Keeping that in mind all high-fat foods, like nuts and high-fat seeds must be given to parrots in moderation.
Daily ratio of nuts and seeds per parrot of about 450g per day:
1 walnut or
3 hazelnuts or
5 pine nuts or
4-5 pumpkin seeds or
10 sunflower seeds
If combining different types of nuts and seeds reduce the amount of each nut/seed type accordingly.
Another way to supplement the diet with EFAs is by serving a small amount, just a couple of drops, of unrefined flaxseed oil or so-called Omega blend.
One of the best and well-balanced brands of unrefined oils on the market is Udo's Choice Oil Blend.

To learn more about the product and find your local stockist please follow the link
If using unrefined oils, including unrefined palm fruit extract, it is important to reduce the amount of nuts and seeds given proportionally. It is also beneficial to mix and match different ingredients for optimum results and to keep things interesting. Offer a couple of nuts and seeds on one day, on the other day stick to offering the seeds and a couple of drops of unrefined oil, the next day serve a small amount of palm fruit extract and a couple of nuts, but no high-fat seeds at all.
When choosing foods high in oil, like nuts or extra virgin seed/nut oils it is very important to make sure that they are fresh and are not damaged by heat, light or oxygen and have not gone rancid, because this would mean not only a decrease in palatability of the product but also decrease in vitamins and appearance of toxic compounds which are even linked to causing some types of cancers.
Never purchase nuts and seeds loose in petshops. It is important to purchase only human-grade nuts (or in fact any other ingredients you intend to feed to your parrot) because they are aflatoxin tested and are usually of a much higher quality than those intended for animal consumption. However even human-grade nuts must be examined for any signs of mold or rancidity and throw away if any are present before feeding them to a parrot.
To make sure nuts, seeds and unrefined oils don't go rancid nuts and seeds can be stored in the freezer or fridge and unrefined oils must be kept in the fridge.

1 comment:

  1. I always like to get my Udo's oil blend from because of their great service and low prices. Tough to beat them.


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