In this page I am going to talk about unsaturated fatty acids (UFA), specifically what they are, which foods contain them and which benefits they give us.
First of all, they usually present in form of liquid vegetable oils, while saturated fatty acids are usually found in solid animal fat (the white fat in red meats for example).
Now some more "medical" details that may be difficult to fully understand, but I think they're good to know.
Our body can not produce essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acids. Arachidonic acid can be synthesized from linoleic acid if it is provided to the body in sufficient amounts by the diet.
Wheat seeds, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, soybean, rapeseed (the best for a good balance of omega 3 and omega 6) and corn, are all omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which contain linoleic acid.
Cod liver oil and fatty fish contain linolenic unsaturated fatty acids and are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Linseed oil contains large amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and can be mixed with oils that contain omega-6 to a healthier balance.
UFA are important for "respiration" of vital organs and facilitate oxygen to be carried through the blood flow to the cells, tissues and organs.
UFA help to regulate the rate of blood clotting and exert a vital function in breaking down the cholesterol deposited on the arteries walls. They are essential for normal glandular activity, especially of the adrenal glands and the thyroid. UFA nourish the skin cells and are effective in maintaining healthy mucus membranes and nerves.
The National Research Council (U.S.) states that fat intake should include essential (unsaturated) fatty acids to the extent of at least 10% of total calories. The level of essential fatty acids for infants has been set at 3% of total calories.
The required amount of essential fatty acids is generally met when 2% of calories comes from linoleic acid, which is found in food sources such as vegetable oils (soybean, sunflower, corn, and wheat seeds).
To obtain maximum benefits from the UFA you should take them with vitamin E with meals. This ensures better absorption.
Furthermore, it's important that when you increase the amount of fats and oils you also increase the dosage of vitamin E. A diet that includes fatty acids (unsaturated) should include antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium.
These antioxidants prevent the formation of peroxide, which occurs when oxygen and fatty acids interact in the body. Peroxide and free radicals may damage various body proteins.
There are no known toxic effects of UFA. However, excessive amounts of saturated fats can cause metabolic disorders and abnormal weight gain.
Deficiency: Effects and Symptoms
A deficiency of UFA may be responsible for:
- Weak and dull hair
- Weak nails
- Dandruff and
- Predisposition to allergies in general
In addition, a deficiency of unsaturated fatty acids can cause:
- Varicose veins
- Excessive thinness and
Skin disorders such as eczema, acne and dry skin are also associated with a deficiency of unsaturated fatty acids. Also diseases such as heart disease, abnormalities of the circulatory system and kidneys have been associated with a defective metabolism of fat.
No UFA can compromise normal growth and the development of teeth.
Benefits of Unsaturated Fatty Acids Against Diseases
UFA have been used in the treatment of external ulcers, especially leg ulcers, with good results. They can also be taken orally and externally in the treatment of childhood eczema and eczema that occurs in non-allergic adolescents and adults.
Linoleic acid is useful in restoring growth. Hay fever has been treated successfully with UFA as well. They are also important for the prevention and treatment of bronchial asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Unsaturated fatty acids have also been administered to prevent heart disease. They maintain a stable level of cholesterol and prevent the formation of solid deposits in blood vessels or under the skin.
This is very important especially for patients suffering from atherosclerosis. These fatty acids help prevent the increase of blood pressure and the hardening of the arteries, because they decrease the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Unsaturated fatty acids have helped prevent diarrhea and obesity and have been proven effective in the prevention of prostate problems.
Good fatty acids (unsaturated) are also very important to produce testosterone naturally. Examples of foods that contain good fatty acids are avocado, nuts, olive oil.
In conclusion, don't try to eliminate fat from your diet, as not all fats are the same, and not all are bad. Unsaturated fats are very important for our body to maintain the nutritional balance, so make sure that you always take some.
I take omega 3 supplements in the recommended doses, and try to have some avocado and nuts when I can.
Remember that a perfect diet should have a correct balance, close to this:
Carbs - Protein - Fats = 40% - $40% - 20%
Return to Home Page