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Guide To Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFA)

Avocados Shrimp and other foods for PUFA (Polyunsaturated fats) Guide

Although they’re commonly associated with negative health effects, your approach to fats should not be as black-and-white as some may lead you to believe. In fact, some types of fats are quite beneficial. One of the most common but least talked about is polyunsaturated fats. Let’s discuss polyunsaturated fats (also known as PUFAs) and their role in your meal planning. 

What Are Polyunsaturated Fats?

Polyunsaturated fats are a type of dietary fat that can be found in both plant and animal foods. 

Polyunsaturated fat differs in makeup from saturated fats. The key difference is that saturated fats don’t contain any double bonds in their chemical structure. Meanwhile, unsaturated fats contain multiple double bonds. Polyunsaturated fats are a type of saturated fat that contain multiple double bonds.

Polyunsaturated fats include fatty acids called omega-3 and omega-6, which are essential for our bodies to function properly. You can only get these fatty acids from your diet, as your body does not produce them naturally. This makes it necessary to consume minor amounts of polyunsaturated fats. 

Dangers Of Polyunsaturated Fats

Though there are a few known benefits to polyunsaturated fats, many Americans consume them in excess. Consuming polyunsaturated fats in an improper manner can be detrimental to your health over time. As such, it is important to familiarize yourself with the effects of polyunsaturated fats on your body. 

Inflammation

Just as it is important to monitor the overall amount of polyunsaturated fat you consume, you should consider the ratio of omega-6 versus omega-3-heavy polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Most Americans consume far too much omega-6 as compared to omega-3. Omega-6 is known to be inflammatory and contributes to poor health. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in oils like soybean and corn and are a part of most fried foods. 

High Calories

This calorie-dense fat does not fill you up quickly but contains a lot of calories. Try to use moderation when making meals containing polyunsaturated fats.

Essential Fatty Acids image including salmon

What Foods Contain Polyunsaturated Fats?

Dietary fats can be found in particularly high concentrations in various foods. For example, plant-based oils are one of the most common sources of polyunsaturated fats. They are usually high in omega-6 fatty acids.

You can find polyunsaturated fats with omega-6 fatty acids in the following oils:

  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Olive oil
  • Flax oil
  • Safflower oil

Polyunsaturated fats, mostly in the form of omega-3’s are also present in the following foods:

  • Walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Soybeans
  • Avocados 
  • Fish (especially salmon)

As you can see, omega-6 fatty acids are more prominent in oils while omega-3 fatty acids exist in nuts, soy, and fish. To ensure a proper balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, you should ensure that your diet is not heavier in omega-6s than omega-3s. Avoiding oils like soybean, corn, sunflower, and flax oil can make it significantly easier to cut down on the amount of polyunsaturated fat in your diet. 

How To Reduce Polyunsatured Fats In Your Diet

Eating too many foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats can make you feel sick, drain your energy, and increase inflammation in your body. As such, if you believe you are consuming an excess of polyunsaturated fats, it is important to cut back as soon as possible. Thankfully, if you’re open to making changes, it isn’t too hard to portion these fats. Here are a few tips for minimizing the number of polyunsaturated fats in your diet. 

Check Nutrition Labels

If you don’t know what is going into your body daily, it is impossible for you to determine how much polyunsaturated fat you are already consuming. This can also make it difficult to determine how much you need to portion to maintain a healthier diet. As such, it is important to check the nutrition labels and stay informed about the food you consume. You should pay special attention to the specific types of fats in your food.

Make Replacements

It isn’t always practical to completely remove all the foods you enjoy from your diet if they include high levels of polyunsaturated fats. Rather than eliminating foods from your diet, you can replace them with a healthier version of what you’re already eating. 

For example, if your favorite food is fried chicken, you probably consume a lot of unhealthy polyunsaturated fat because of the oil the chicken is fried in. For a healthier option, you can opt for grilled or baked chicken instead of fried. Alternatively, you can replace oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats like corn oil with substitutes like coconut oil or avocado oil. 

Conclusion

While ingesting some polyunsaturated fats is necessary for your health, it’s best to consume these foods in moderation. Most Americans consume them to an excessive degree, contributing to inflammation and other health issues. 

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