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How Polyunsaturated Fats Lower Cholesterol

A Convenient Choice Of Words

Steven Hamley – ‘Saturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat and Coronary Heart Disease’

On February 20, 2007, Science Daily reported that researchers had shown total cholesterol levels to predict the risk of stroke in women. Women with the highest cholesterol levels, according to the article, had twice the risk of stroke as women with lower levels. The researchers claimed their findings underscored the importance of cholesterol levels as a risk factor for stroke, even if you have no history of heart disease and are otherwise healthy.8

The article left out one important fact: the study only looked at ischemic stroke.24 Did the women with high cholesterol levels have not only twice the risk of ischemic stroke but also half the risk of the much more dangerous and fatal hemorrhagic stroke? Was the incidence of total stroke any higher or lower in women with high cholesterol levels? We simply do not know; the study did not address the question.

How Much Fat Should I Eat

Fats are very high in energy so they can lead to weight gain, so you need to keep an eye on how much you eat in total.

About a third of your energy should come from fat. Thats about 70g for a woman and 90g for a man per day.

Keep the amount of saturated fat you eat down by swapping foods high in saturated fats for foods which are higher in unsaturated fats or low in fat altogether. Dont simply eat more unsaturated fats;as you could eat too much fat in total.

Check the labels on foods to see how much fat and saturated fat they contain. Some labels are colour-coded which helps you to make a quick decision.;

Bad Fats: Saturated Fats

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends limiting the amount of saturated bad fats from your diet.

While saturated fats do serve a purpose in our bodies, we do not want to consume them in excess, Hahn said. Diets high in saturated and trans fats can be one of the risk factors that lead to heart disease.

These bad fats come from animal sourcesprimarily meat and dairy productsbut there are also plant-based foods, such as coconut and cocoa butter, that contain saturated fats. To limit your intake, its recommended that no more than 7% to 10% of your daily calories come from saturated fats.

Items to Add to Shopping List
  • Choose lean meats
  • Fruits, vegetables and whole grains to limit your intake

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Good Monounsaturated And Polyunsaturated Fats

Good fats come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. They differ from saturated fats by having fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to their carbon chains. Healthy fats are liquid at room temperature, not solid. There are two broad categories of beneficial fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats.;When you dip your bread in olive oil at an Italian restaurant, you’re getting mostly monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats have a single carbon-to-carbon double bond. The result is that it has two fewer hydrogen atoms than a saturated fat and a bend at the double bond. This structure keeps monounsaturated fats liquid at room temperature.

Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils.

The discovery that monounsaturated fat could be healthful came from the Seven Countries Study during the 1960s. It revealed that people in Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean region enjoyed a low rate of heart disease despite a high-fat diet. The main fat in their diet, though, was not the saturated animal fat common in countries with higher rates of heart disease. It was olive oil, which contains mainly monounsaturated fat. This finding produced a surge of interest in olive oil and the “Mediterranean diet,” a style of eating regarded as a healthful choice today.


A Word About Trans Fats

Polyunsaturated Fat Facts and Health Benefits

The carbon-carbon double bond in an unsaturated fatty acid chain can result in different shapes depending on whether the fatty acid is in a cis or trans configuration. When the hydrogen atoms are bonded to the same side of the carbon chain, it is called a cis fatty acid. Because the hydrogen atoms are on the same side , the carbon chain has a bent structure. Naturally-occurring fatty acids usually have a cis configuration.

In a transfatty acid, the hydrogen atoms are bonded on opposite sides of the carbon chain, resulting in a more linear structure. Unlike cis fatty acids, most trans fatty acids are not found naturally in foods, but instead are a result of an industrial process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen to the carbon-carbon double bonds, thus making the fatty acid saturated .

Hydrogenation creates both saturated and trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are actually unsaturated fatty acids, but they have the linear shape of saturated fatty acids. The trans fatty acids formed through partial hydrogenation have an unusual shape, which makes their properties and actions in the body similar to saturated fatty acids.

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Unhealthy Or Bad Fats

Trans fat. Small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats can be found in meat and dairy products but its artificial trans fats that are considered dangerous. This is the worst type of fat since it not only raises bad LDL cholesterol but also lowers good HDL levels. Artificial trans fats can also create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions and contributes to insulin resistance, which increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration has effectively outlawed the use of artificial trans-fats in commercially prepared food and the World Health Organization has called on other governments around the world to eliminate the use of trans fats by 2023. However, products made before the FDA ban may still be available for sale. Since products can be listed as having zero trans fats even if they contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, its still important to carefully read food labels. Look for ingredients referred to as partially hydrogenated oils. These hidden sources of artificial trans fats can add up quickly.

If your country still allows the use of artificial trans fats, remember that no amount is considered safe, so aim to eliminate it from your diet.

Trans fat primary sources include:

Saturated fat primary sources include:

  • Red meat
  • Chicken skin
  • Whole-fat dairy products
  • Butter
  • Tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil

Why We Need Some Fat

A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids,;which the body cannot make;itself.

Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D;and vitamin E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.

Any fat that’s not used by your body’s cells or turned into energy is converted into body fat. Likewise, unused carbohydrates and proteins are also converted into body fat.

All types of fat are high in energy. A gram of fat, whether it’s saturated or unsaturated,;provides 9kcal of energy compared with 4kcal for carbohydrate and protein.

The main types of fat;found in food are:

  • saturated fats
  • unsaturated fats

Most fats and oils contain both saturated and unsaturated fats in different proportions.

As part of a healthy diet, you should try to cut down on foods and drinks that are high in saturated fats and trans fats and replace some of them with unsaturated fats.

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The Paul Leren Oslo Study 1966

Almost as soon as it was reported that diets rich in polyunsaturated fats and low in cholesterol could lower blood cholesterol levels, a young physician in Oslo, Paul Leren, started planning the next step study. In 1957, he ran a pilot study to see how much of a decrease in blood cholesterol level could be obtained by dietary means and whether it could be sustained. The key element of the diet was a sharp reduction in saturated fat and cholesterol intake and an increase in polyunsaturated fat intake. In fact, each experimental subject had to consume a pint of soybean oil every week, adding it to salad dressing or using it in cooking or, if necessary, just gulping it down! Leren bravely launched his 5-year study with 412 myocardial infarction survivors, counting on their high level of motivation and intensive reinforcement from dietitians to keep them compliant and they were. Sixty percent of the men were considered to be Excellent adherers and their blood cholesterol level fell from an average starting value of 296 mg/dl to an average of 232 mg/dl during the course of the study a drop of 21.6 percent. Adherence by the rest of the men was lower so the mean drop in cholesterol for the group as a whole was 17.6 percent .

The key finding was that 54 patients of the 206 in the control group had a second heart attack during the 5 years of the study compared with only 34 of the 206 in the diet group , see Figure 3.9.

Earl H Harrison, in, 2012

Types Of Healthy Fat In Oils

Monounsaturated Fats, High-Fiber Foods to Reduce Cholesterol | Chitkalu | Vanitha Nestham

Incorporating a variety of different oils in your diet can help to provide an array of different micronutrients.

Monounsaturated fats contain a single unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule. A good source of vitamin E, monounsaturated fats are found only in plants. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics;recommends;MUFAs make up 15% to 20% of total daily calories.

Polyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule and are found in plants and fish such as salmon. PUFAs also contain vitamin E and high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acidsnutrients essential for brain function and cell growth.

Some oils are high in omega-3 fatty acidshealthy fats that help to reduce inflammation and prevent the formation of arterial plaque. Avocado, canola, flaxseed, olive, peanut, sunflower, and walnut oils are all good sources of omega-3.

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Increase Intake Of Omega

Essential long-chain polyunsaturated fats eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid , both derived from marine sources), and to a lesser extent -linolenic acid have increasingly been shown to confer protection from CVD and its related risk factors. As a result, patients should be encouraged to increase consumption. The American Heart Association in its latest scientific statement regarding omega-3 fatty acids recommends the following53:

Patients without documented coronary disease should consume a variety of oily fish at least twice a week and include oils and foods rich in -linolenic acid. This equates to approximately 500 mg of EPA and DHA daily.

Patients with documented coronary disease should consume 1000 mg EPA and DHA per day, preferably from oily fish. Fish oil supplements could be considered.

Patients with hypertriglyceridemia should consume 2 to 4 g of EPA and DHA per day provided as fish oil capsules under physician’s care. Physicians need to review use of anticoagulants because supplementation at this level may interfere with blood clotting.

Cold water varieties of fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, and herring are good sources of EPA and DHA .

Matthew Moher MD, in, 2018

What Are Polyunsaturated Fats

From a chemical standpoint, polyunsaturated fats are simply fat molecules that have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, this is also called a double bond. Oils that contain polyunsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Olive oil is an example of a type of oil that contains polyunsaturated fats.

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Healthy Fats: The Power Of Omega

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat and are especially beneficial to your health. There are different types of omega-3s: EPA and DHA are found in fish and algae and have the most health benefits, while ALA comes from plants and is a less potent form of omega-3, although the body does convert ALA to EPA and DHA at low rates.

Research has shown that a diet rich in omega-3s may help to:

  • Prevent and reduce symptoms of depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
  • Protect against memory loss and dementia.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
  • Ease arthritis, joint pain, and inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Support a healthy pregnancy.
  • Battle fatigue, sharpen your memory, and balance your mood.
The Best Sources of Omega-3s
Fish: the best source of omega-3
  • Anchovies
Vegetarian sources of omega-3s
  • Algae such as seaweed
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Spinach

What Are Dietary Fats

Polyunsaturated Fat

Fat is a type of nutrient, and just like protein and carbohydrates, your body needs some fat for energy, to absorb vitamins, and to protect your heart and brain health. For years weve been told that eating fat will add inches to your waistline, raise cholesterol, and cause a myriad of health problems. But now we know that not all fat is the same.

Bad fats, such as artificial trans fats and saturated fats, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed forweight gain, clogged arteries, an increased risk of certain diseases, and so forth. But good fats such as unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids have the opposite effect. In fact, healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.

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Try To Lose Excess Weight

Whether you have high blood sugar or cholesterol, losing excess weight will drastically improve your health. If you are overweight there is a high chance that your body will be at higher risk for cholesterol, and according to studies overweight and obesity lower good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol.

Nonetheless, regular exercise, physical activity, and a heart-healthy diet are crucial for everybody to keep good cardiovascular health.

Dietary Fat And Cholesterol

Dietary fat plays a major role in your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance that your body needs to function properly. In and of itself, cholesterol isnt bad. But when you get too much of it, it can have a negative impact on your health. As with dietary fat, there are good and bad types of cholesterol.

  • HDL cholesterol is the good kind of cholesterol found in your blood.
  • LDL cholesterol is the bad kind.
  • The key is to keep LDL levels low and HDL high, which may protect against heart disease and stroke.
  • Conversely, high levels of LDL cholesterol can clog arteries and low HDL can be a marker for increased cardiovascular risk.

Rather than the amount of cholesterol you eat, the biggest influence on your cholesterol levels is the type of fats you consume. So instead of counting cholesterol, its important to focus on replacing bad fats with good fats.

Read Also: How To Lower Your Cholesterol With Diet And Exercise

Role Of Saturated Monounsaturated And Polyunsaturated Fat In Coronary Heart Disease

Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are synthesized in the body for energetic, physiological, and structural functions, and they are present in many foods. For example, palmitic acid, the major saturated fatty acid in the diet, is synthesized in the liver from starch and sugar via de novo lipogenesis, and it is the predominant fatty acid present in dairy and meats . Due to the positive linear relationship between total saturated fat intake and LDL-C concentrations, the recommendation is to limit saturated fat to <10% of calories . However, the role of saturated fat in heart disease is complex because of the heterogeneous biological effects of the different saturated fatty acids and the diversity of food sources . Moreover, conclusions are complicated by dietary substitutions underscoring the importance of considering the replacement nutrient.

Effects of isocaloric substitution of specific fatty acids for saturated fatty acids in the Nurses Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study on a.) total mortality, b.) cardiovascular disease mortality, c.) cancer mortality, d.) neurodegenerative disease mortality. Results were from the multi-variate model using the fixed-effects model. UFA indicates unsaturated fatty acid and error bard, 95% confidence intervals. Reproduced with permission from Wang, et al. 2016

How Do Polyunsaturated Fats Affect My Health

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Polyunsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your bodys cells. Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of.

Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats also provide essential fats that your body needs but cant produce itself such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. You must get essential fats through food. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are important for many functions in the body.

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The Benefits Of Unsaturated Fat

The mechanisms by which unsaturated fats affect lipids are not fully known, but studies have shown that they can modestly lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol.

Some polyunsaturated fats , such as omega-3 fatty acids, can also help lower your triglyceride levels.

Beyond that, unsaturated fats play an essential role in fueling your body and supporting cell growth.

They help protect the organs, promote nutrient absorption, and produce important hormones.

Consuming healthy levels of unsaturated fats helps lower the risk of vascular disease, heart disease, and stroke.

Treatment For High Cholesterol

Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.

You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.

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