by: Rebecca Haight
Fat is a constantly misunderstood nutrient. It gets a bad rep for being bad for you, but fat is actually essential for your body – we can’t live without it. Fat is a major source of energy. It also helps you absorb fats and minerals and build cell membrane.
Both mono and polyunsaturated fats are extremely effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels in the blood when eaten instead of saturated fat and trans fat. This helps lower the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.
Monounsaturated fats are comprised of a chain of carbon with one pair of carbon molecules joined by a double bond. The more double bonds there are, the more solid the fat will be; but monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and turn slightly solid when chilled.
Monounsaturated fats help regulate your heart rhythm and reduce inflammation.
Eating monounsaturated fats is also beneficial in regulating your insulin levels, which is good for everyone but particularly healthy for people with diabetes.
Plus, monounsaturated fats are high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of. And it’s beneficial in helping to maintain and develop cells in the body.
The primary sources of monounsaturated fats are liquid oils such as olive, canola, peanut, safflower and sunflower oils. Other good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, and a handful of seeds and nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds between carbon atoms. They are more solid than monounsaturated fats but less solid than saturated fats. Therefore, polyunsaturated fats are also liquid at room temperature.
Polyunsaturated fats are essential in building cell membranes. They’re also needed for blood clotting, muscle movement and inflammation.
There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial to your heart because of their effectiveness in protecting you against high blood pressure. Omega-3’s can also help reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Walnuts and flax seed are a great source of polyunsaturated fat, as well as soybean, corn and flax oil. Fatty fish are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This includes salmon, mackerel and trout.
The Good Fats
Mono and polyunsaturated fats are typically known as the “healthy fats” whereas saturated and trans fats are “unhealthy.”
As you’ve seen, the unsaturated fats have many health benefits. But what about saturated fats? Are they really that bad? –Check out next week’s post to find out!
Coila, Bridget. “Monounsaturated Fat Vs. Polyunsaturated Fat.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 16 Apr. 2015, www.livestrong.com/article/85085-monounsaturated-fat-vs.-polyunsaturated-fat/.
“Monounsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association, healthyforgood.heart.org/Eat-smart/Articles/Monounsaturated-Fats.
“Monounsaturated Fat Vs. Polyunsaturated Fat.” Healthy Eating | SF Gate, healthyeating.sfgate.com/monounsaturated-fat-vs-polyunsaturated-fat-6898.html.
“Polyunsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association, healthyforgood.heart.org/Eat-smart/Articles/Polyunsaturated-Fats.
Publications, Harvard Health. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-Between.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.