Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is a healthy omega-6 fatty acid, and today we’re going to talk about 6 of the best gamma linolenic acid foods!
You may have heard bad things about omega-6 fatty acids—that they are consumed in excess, and that they are present in most vegetable oils. However, GLA is a little different.
GLA has been shown to have surprising and powerful health benefits. It works as an anti-inflammatory, and may combat many ailments including asthma, atherosclerosis, dermatitis, diabetes, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. Preliminary evidence also suggest it has positive effects for those suffering from cancer.
It also turns out that most people don’t get enough of this omega-6 fatty acid. So where can we find this magical compound?
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Foods #1: Borage Oil
Borage oil is oil derived from the seeds of borage, also known as starflower. Borage grows throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America, and the Mediterranean regions. It is nicknamed the “bee plant” because its bright blue flowers attract bees throughout the summer.
Borage oil typically contains 24% GLA, making it one of the richest natural sources of GLA. It has been used medicinally for over 1,500 years to treat skin conditions, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), respiratory disorders, and a number of other medical conditions.
The GLA in borage oil helps to control the release of molecules in the body which are responsible for inflammatory responses—including the prostaglandins.
The typical dose for an adult is 500 milligrams to 3 grams of borage oil daily, depending on your needs. If you think you could benefit from borage oil supplements, talk to your doctor to see if its right for you!
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Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Foods #2: Spirulina
Since this blue-green alga is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, it should come as no surprise that spirulina is an excellent source of the healthy omega-6 fatty acid, GLA.
According to a study published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, y-linolenic acid, or GLA, constitutes up to 40% of the total fatty acids in spirulina. It is one of the richest sources of GLA available.
This potent superfood has an impressive nutritional profile that blows all other superfoods out of the water. This makes it the perfect supplement, filling in any nutritional gaps—including deficits in healthy fatty acids.
The benefits of spirulina are boundless. From skin-improving, inflammation-reducing, to immune- and energy-boosting—everyone can benefit from adding a little spirulina to their lives.
TWEETABLEGLA constitutes up to 40% of the total fatty acids in spirulina Click To Tweet
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Foods #3: Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is made from primrose seeds. Primrose is a wild flower that grows in eastern and central North America, and it has been used for hundreds of years for its medicinal properties.
Unlike borage oil, which is refined for human consumption, evening primrose oil may be cold-pressed and unrefined, making it a more nutritious option.
Evening primrose oil is commonly consumed for its treatment of PMS symptoms and fertility issues. Due to its high concentration of GLA, it may improve hormonal imbalances which cause conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)—an endocrine disorder which can affect fertility in women.
Gamma-Linolenic acid has also been shown to increase cervical fluid, making a friendlier environment for sperm, increasing chances of conception. It also prepares the uterus for pregnancy.
Women who are already pregnant are not recommended to take primrose oil, as it may stimulate uterine contractions. Toward the end of a healthy pregnancy, a woman may use evening primrose oil internally to prepare the cervix for birth.
In addition to improving PMS symptoms and fertility in women, evening primrose oil is proven to reduce inflammation associated with many different conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed significant improvement in rheumatoid arthritis patients who had been given borage oil and evening primrose oil supplements.
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Foods #4: Black Currant Seed Oil
Black currant seed oil is derived from seeds of black currant—a small black berry found in Europe and Northern Asia. In Northern Europe—especially in the United Kingdom—black currant is eaten raw and made into jellies, jams, and juices.
Black currant contains many important antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.
Black currant oil is a rich source of GLA, with a minimum content of 15%. Like other oils containing GLA, black currant seed oil is used medicinally to treat sexual health issues and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic neuropathy.
The oil may be applied topically to treat dry skin, and to promote healthy hair and nails. When taking black currant seed oil orally, the recommended dose is 500 milligrams twice a day.
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Foods #5: Hemp Oil
Hemp oil, or hempseed oil, is oil extracted from hemp plant. Industrial hemp oil does not contain significant amounts of THC and does not have psychoactive properties, like some people may think. Because of its botanical relationship to cannabis, hemp often gets a bad rap, when in fact, it has many powerful health benefits.
Hemp oil is used in paints, plastics, building materials, health foods, soaps, lubricants, and other body care products. It can be applied directly to the skin to treat dry skin, but it is also taken as a dietary supplement due to its high concentration of essential fatty acids.
Hemp oil is especially rich in gamma linolenic acid—an omega-6 fatty acid which is essential for proper hormone health. It’s important to get GLA from food and supplement sources, because the body is not able to produce it itself.
Research shows that the GLA in hemp oil may help people with ADHD, breast pain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, PMS, rheumatoid arthritis, and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Hemp oil should not be heated. So, if you’re making a sunny-side-up egg, opt for a different vegetable oil. Instead, drizzle the nutty and earthy-tasting hemp oil over a salad or use it as a dip for bread.
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Foods #6: Oatmeal
Oatmeal is the only ‘real’ food that naturally contains GLA. While it does not contain nearly as much as the oils mentioned above, or as much as spirulina, a few servings per week of steal-cut oats will provide the average adult with a healthy supply of GLA.
Choose steal-cut oats over instant. Steal-cuts oats are less processed, and contain more nutrients than instant or rolled oats. They take longer to prepare, but the authentic taste and texture are well worth it.
A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
Gamma-Linolenic acid can improve many different health issues. If you think you can benefit too, talk to your doctor about taking one of these incredible GLA supplements for increased health.
What’s your favorite gamma linolenic food? Let us know in the comments below!