Friday, March 8, 2013
Article # 369. Poly vs. Mono Unsaturated Fat
The structure of polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats is similar, but different. Both have the similarity of being unsaturated, which means there are double bonds within the chemical structure for both. "Mono" means there is one double bond in the unsaturated fat and "poly" means there are two or more double bonds within the chemical structure. Both are liquid at room temperature and at cold temperatures. The unsaturated structure is what makes these fats healthy.
Functions in the Body
The functions of polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat are similar. Polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, provide structure to cell membranes, facilitate communication between cells in the body and act as an energy source, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Monounsaturated fats help the body absorb nutrients and regulate bodily functions, like clearing out cholesterol and triglycerides from the blood stream before they accumulate. Fats are used to create hormones responsible for regulating blood pressure and blood clotting.
Functions for Health Benefit
Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats provide health benefits. Monounsaturated fats help to clear out cholesterol and triglycerides in the body, which lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This prevents the accumulation of fats and cholesterol into plaques and decreases the risk of a stroke, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA goes on to explain that the health benefits of polyunsaturated fats involve decreasing cholesterol levels as well as being critical for brain function.
Sources of monounsaturated fats include peanuts, avocados, peanut oil, canola oil, olives, olive oil, almonds, almond oil and hazelnuts. Sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids include vegetable oils, soybean oil, safflower oil, salmon, trout and herring. Many of of the foods mentioned are a blend of both types of oils, but predominantly one or the other.
The American Heart Association recommends that total fat intake be 25 to 35 percent of calories. The National Cholesterol Education Program breaks this number down even more between polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat percentages. The NCEP recommends that monounsaturated fat consist of 20 percent of calories and polyunsaturated be the remaining 10 percent of fat calories.