Polyunsaturated fats are essential to your diet because they contain omega-3 and omega-6, two essential fatty acids which our bodies cannot produce on its own. These fatty acids support healthy brain function and the growth and development of our body, and therefore have been called “brain food” for a good reason.
Along with the benefits from the essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels and lower LDL or “bad cholesterol,” unlike saturated fats that raise cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.
The Power of Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been proven to do many wonderful things for our body such as:
- prevent cancer and other diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer, and gout
- lower risk of diabetes
- reduce risk of stroke
- enhance skin
- improving heart, brain, and circulation functions
- lower triglycerides-a type of fat in your blood.
What Foods Contain Polyunsaturated Fats?
Polyunsaturated fats are found predominately in:
- fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel
- grain products
- fish oil
- sunflower oil
- safflower oil
- flax seeds
How Much Should You Eat?
It is recommended not to derive more than 30% of the total calories you consume in a day from fats. To maintain good health, the bulk of those calories should come mainly from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
All fats contain the same amount of calories – 9 calories per gram – so just because it is considered a “healthy fat” does not mean that you should overindulge, as even these fats can lead to weight gain if not consumed in moderation.
Incorporating Polyunsaturated Fats Into Your Diet
If you eat a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, try replacing a few weekly meals with fatty fish such as salmon or trout, or even beans, and begin to make a transition to gradually eating more heart friendly fats. Additionally, try to have one good source of omega-3 fat everyday such as fish, walnuts, flax seed oil, ground flax seeds, canola oil, or soybean oil. Replacing some full-fat dairy products with soy products can also be very beneficial to improving your overall health.
Cutting out processed food and many snack items that contain high amounts of saturated fats and trans fats and replacing them with healthier unsaturated fat options can improve both your health and weight loss goals significantly.