Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids 101
In the world of fats there is one fat type that stands out above the rest, and chances are you’re not getting enough of it. In fact, this type of fat is good for your heart, your organs and tissues, your brain and it can even improve your sleep, and cognitive function. What is it, you say? It’s polyunsaturated fat.
What the Heck is Polyunsaturated Fat?
Fats are basically defined by the number of bonds that they have available in their molecular structure. Saturated fats have no bonds available. All of their carbon molecules are bound and therefore it’s difficult to pull them apart or for anything to bond with them. They’re solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats have some available bonds to work with. Monounsaturated fats have at least one double bond, which means that they some of their carbon is bound and therefore not free to break apart. But they have some available bonds. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts and seeds like olive and almonds. They’re part of the popular Mediterranean diet and are generally healthy fats.
Polyunsaturated fats mean that they contain more than one double bond. They’re considered to be the best fats for your health and contain the popular fats that you hear about every day including Omega-3 Fatty acids.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in:
- Fish like mackerel, salmon, tuna, anchovies, and sardines
- Flax seed oil
- Chia seeds
- Fish oil supplements
They’ve been shown to have a positive impact on overall health including the following benefits:
- Essential for healthy cell membrane production
- Reduce inflammation in cells and tissues
- Improve immune function
- Improve brain function
- Improve skin, hair, and nails
- Tells your stomach when you’re full so you don’t overeat
Polyunsaturated fats are considered “Essential Fatty Acids,” which means that they’re not produced by your body and you must consume them in foods. The other essential fatty acids include Omega-6 and Omega-9. Those generally don’t need to be supplemented because they’re commonly found in many foods and in many cases people consume too many 6 and 9. It’s also theorized that a ratio of 3, 6, and 9 is what leads to optimal health, with Omega-3 being the most important essential fatty acid.
It’s important for optimal earth and wellbeing that you do get enough Omega-3, and many of today’s health challenges are being linked to a deficiency in this essential fatty acid. Food manufacturing and production processes remove it from our grains because it isn’t shelf stable, meaning that loaf of bread would go bad on the grocery store shelf. So the oils are removed when the grain is processed. You can get more into your diet by eating whole grains and cold water fish. If it’s difficult for you to get enough of these foods into your diet, consider including a quality Omega-3 fatty acid supplement into your daily routine.