Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Versus Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

At first, it can seem overwhelming when it comes to deciphering the differences between the two unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids. But, if you take the time to examine the two, you can see the differences.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are described in chemistry as being double bonded, or being bonded more than two times in the fatty acid chain. This is where they get the poly part of their name.  They are not made within our bodies. Therefore, we need to acquire them in the foods we eat or nutritional supplements. They are two families of polyunsaturated fatty acids: Omega3 and Omega6.

Some good food choices that contain polyunsaturated fatty acids include: 

  • fish such as mackerel and salmon
  • flaxseeds
  • canola oil
  • soybeans
  • sesame seeds
  • dark leafy vegetables. 

Fish oil supplements and DHA supplements (a fatty acid derived from fish oil) are also a great ways to add polyunsaturated fatty acids to your diet.

Polyunsaturated fats are believed to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders. One reason they can do this is by help lower the amount of triglycerides in your body. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. They are also a major source of energy. Yet, high levels of triglycerides are often found in people who also have high cholesterol levels, heart problems, and weight issues.

The Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to help reduce prostate tumor growth.

One easiest way to add polyunsaturated fats to your diet is to spread some soybean or vegetable oil based margarine onto some bread everyday.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Monounsaturated fatty acids are described in chemistry as having a single double bond in the fatty acid chain. This is where the mono part of its name comes from. At room temperature, monounsaturated fatty acids are liquid in form. Once refrigerated, these monounsaturated fatty acids will become solid or semi-solid.

Monounsaturated fatty acids can help promote insulin resistance and help lower LDL cholesterol.  These fatty acids can be found in food sources such as: 

  • nuts
  • grape seed oil
  • peanut oil
  • corn oil
  • popcorn
  • whole grain wheat
  • safflower oil

Advantages of Unsaturated Fatty Acids

All unsaturated fatty acids are healthy fatty acids and can benefit our body (lower our cholesterol, lower our risk of heart problems, etc.). A good goal is a diet that consists of 20 to 25 percent fat, ideally more unsaturated fat than the saturated kind.


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