Monday, 19 December 2016

Polyunsaturated fats PUFA (part 4 of 5)

Oils that contain polyunsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. This type of fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils.

Polyunsaturated fat is mainly made up of either omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid is another polyunsaturated fat.

Benefits of polyunsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood.
  • They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.
  • Lowers triglycerides. High triglycerides may triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls.
  • Reduces blood pressure (as above)
  • Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet.
  • Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats also provide essential fats that your body needs but cannot produce itself – such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is another omega-3 fatty acid.

Is too much polyunsaturated fats harmful

Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including:
  • cancer and heart disease; 
  • immune system dysfunction; 
  • damage to the liver, 
  • reproductive organs and lungs; 
  • digestive disorders; 
  • depressed learning ability; 
  • impaired growth;
  • weight gain.

It is best not to eat too much PUFA but no research has been done yet to say how much we should or should not eat. It is estimated that we are consuming about 30% of PUFA in calorie total which is way too much.

One reason the polyunsaturates cause so many health problems is that they tend to become oxidized or rancid when subjected to heat, oxygen and moisture as in cooking and processing.

They may become free radicals which when react with our DNA or cell membrane will cause our cells to function poorly or die.

Other damages include wrinkles, premature ageing, damage to tissues and organs causing tumours.

Food that are high in polyunsaturated fats:
  • Olive oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout
  • Walnuts, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts
  • Chicken, dairy & eggs

Some recommended cooking oils that are better for our health:
  • Coconut oil - high heat threshold
  • Olive Oil - great in salad dressings or finished products, not for cooking though
  • Ghee or organic, pasture-raised butter - high heat threshold
  • Red palm oil - made from palm fruit and stable under high heat
  • Saturated animal fats are quite stable in high temperature.

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