What are polyunsaturated fats?
Polyunsaturated fats are a type of fat that is considered healthy for the body. They are a type of unsaturated fat that contains more than one double bond in their fatty acid chain, which gives them their name. They are commonly found in foods like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
How do polyunsaturated fats impact my health?
Polyunsaturated fats are important for the body because they are a source of essential fatty acids. This means the body cannot produce them on its own. These essential fatty acids are necessary for a number of bodily functions, including building cell membranes, supporting brain function, and regulating inflammation. There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids are also important for the body, but too much can contribute to inflammation and other health issues.
Polyunsaturated fats have been shown to have a number of positive effects on the body. One of the most well-known benefits is their ability to help lower cholesterol levels. This is because they can reduce the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is the "bad" type of cholesterol that can contribute to heart disease. These fats can also help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, have been shown to have many health benefits. They can help to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels, reducing blood pressure, and preventing blood clots. They are also important for brain health, and may help reduce the risk of depression, dementia, and other cognitive disorders.
An important reminder: too much omega-6 can lead to inflammation and other health issues. To maintain a healthy balance, aim to consume more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids.
How can I add polyunsaturated fats to my diet?
Some of the best sources of omega-3 include:
- Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are all great sources. These fish are also high in protein and other important nutrients.
- Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are all good sources.They can be added to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, or eaten as a snack themselves.
Some of the best sources of omega-6 include:
- Vegetable oils: Soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil, for example. These oils are often used for cooking and baking.
Overall, incorporating more polyunsaturated fats into your diet can have a number of positive effects on your health. By choosing healthy sources of polyunsaturated fats like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, you can improve your cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and support your overall health and wellbeing.
How can I learn more or get access to healthy foods?
The Wellness League Search Tool helps you find free and low cost programs in your community to learn more about healthy eating or find a food pantry. On the search page, simply enter your zip code and the resource you’re looking to find like “nutrition education” or “food pantry”.