Unsaturated Fatty Acids


By: Nikki Nies

Saturated fatty acids, such as animal fat,are commonly deemed to be limited in one’s diet along with trans fats.  However, unsaturated fatty acids should be incorporated into people’s every day diet.  It’s recommended approximately 30% of one’s daily intake derive from healthier fats, with total calories from saturated fat limited to 10% of diet. url

Unsaturated fatty acids derive from vegetables and plants while saturated fats are man made (i.e. butter).  Unsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature.

With a  moderate intake of monounsaturated fats, it can increase one’s long term health, help prevent an increase in blood triglycerides, reduce LDL cholesterol levels  and be good for blood fat control.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) can be broken down until 2 separate categories, omega 3 and omega 6. Omega 3 fatty acids are needed for growth, healthy skin and metabolism  and may help protect against heart disease.  Omega 6 fatty acids provide an essential fatty acid that we need, but our bodies don’t make.  PUFAs have been seen to have lower LDL cholesterol, but with too much can also reduce one’s HDL cholesterol (considered the good fat).

Sources of unsaturated fatty acids include:

Monounsaturated Fat Sources Omega 6 Polyunsaturated Fat Sources Omega 3 Polyunsaturated Fat Sources
Nuts Soybean Oil Soybean Oil
Vegetable oil Corn Oil Canola Oil
Canola Oil Safflower Oil Walnuts
Olive Oil Flaxseed
High oleic safflower oil Fish: trout, herring and salmon
Sunflower Oil

Healthy Tips:

  • Have an ounce of dry roasted nuts as a snack; can be included as a meat and bean source
  • Substitute PUFAs and MUFAs for high calorie saturated fatty acids  and trans fat
  • Use liquid fats (i.e. oil) in cooking instead of solid fats (i.e. butter, margarine)

Fats are the most concentrated source of calories, at 9 kcal/gram compared to protein and carbohydrate counterparts.  Remember quality fats, such as PUFAs and MUFAs trump quantity fats.

Sources: http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/5900verviewmet.html




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