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Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)

What are polyunsaturated fatty acids?

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) contain 2 or more unsaturated (double) bonds between the carbon atoms. Two main PUFA subgroups are:

PUFA Health Benefits

PUFA Intake and LDL Cholesterol

Replacement of some of saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, mainly an omega-6 linoleic acid, can result in a decrease of total and LDL cholesterol levels and increase of HDL/LDL ratio [3,5,6].

PUFA Intake and Heart Disease

There is SOME EVIDENCE from systematic reviews of studies that replacing some of the saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats is associated with up to 17% decrease of risk of heart disease and stroke, but not with decreased risk of death from heart disease [1,2,4,5,8].

PUFA Intake and Diabetes

There is SOME EVIDENCE that replacing some of saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat can reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus type 2 [7].

  1. Hooper L et al, 2015, Effect of cutting down on the saturated fat we eat on our risk of heart disease  Cochrane
  2. 2002, Third Report of the  National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III), p.3263,  Circulation
  3. Essential Fatty Acids  Linus Pauling Institute
  4. Mozaffarian D et al, 2010, Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials  PubMed
  5. Siri-Tarino PW et al, 2010, Saturated Fatty Acids and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Modulation by Replacement Nutrients  PubMed Central
  6. Schwab U et al, 2014, Effect of the amount and type of dietary fat on cardiometabolic risk factors and risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer: a systematic review  PubMed Central
  7. Risérus U et al, 2009, Dietary fats and prevention of type 2 diabetes  PubMed Central
  8. Jakobsen MU et al, 2009, Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: A pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies  NutritionEvidenceLibrary.gov

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