Uncovering the Truth Behind “HEALTHY” Fats: Are PUFA’s Healthy?
by Larissa Belote:
Does most of your food come from packages? Do you use oils for cooking that are sensitive to heat and ultimately toxic? If yes, then you are using too many PUFA’s!
PUFA stands for polyunsaturated fat. Fats are differentiated based on how many double bonds they have. PUFAs contain more than one double bond while saturated fats have no double bonds and monounsaturated fats contain only one double bond. These bonds can be understood as a kink in the chain—the more kinks, the weaker the chain, and the more sensitive the fat. Sensitivity refers to how delicate the fat is to elements like oxygen and heat. Once the fat has been denatured (through exposure to oxygen), it is rancid and becomes toxic.
Although many labels have “heart healthy” written on them to note that the food is low in saturated fat, this is absolutely not true! Thus, there is a direct connection between polyunsaturated fats and heart disease, but unfortunately, you won’t find them marked anywhere on your packaged foods. PUFAs have become so common in packaged foods that when in doubt, you can almost assume they will contain some. Dietary PUFAs are Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. You might be saying to yourself that: “Aren’t these the healthy kinds of fats?” The truth is, when it comes to fats, especially PUFAs, we do need them in our diet, the key is what kinds, what amounts, and how they were processed.
The most common source of dietary PUFAs in packaged foods is cooking oils. Most cooking oils used in foods and restaurants are made from polyunsaturated fats, making them instantly rancid. These fats are so common it’s twofold: first of all, these processed oils are extremely heat resistant. Secondly, they are cheap. Some of the most common sources of dietary PUFAs include: Canola oil, Cottonseed oil, Corn oil, Soybean oil, Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Grapeseed oil, Ricebran oil, Peanut oil, Flaxseed oil, Vegetable oil (which is a blanket name for many of these oils). These fats are found in almost every processed food in the supermarket, notably in margarine, chips, crackers, cakes, cookies, bread, other baked goods, condiments, and salad dressings.
Although some PUFAs are toxic, they aren’t all bad. In fact, consuming specific kinds of PUFAs is incredibly important. Omega 3, 6, and 9’s are only available through dietary sources because we do not make them endogenously. There are two rules in consuming the right kind of PUFA’s:
1. Consume Only Wholefood PUFAs, As Raw as Possible - This means you can eat nuts and seeds but avoid nut and seed oils. So reading the labels is a must.
Fish oil is another example of a processed PUFA to avoid. Properly sourced small fatty fish are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, but avoid consuming these fats in the form of processed fish oil. When consuming PUFA containing whole foods, eat them as unheated and as fresh as possible. Eat raw nuts instead of roasted, use olive, coconut and avocado oil.
2. Consume correct balance of Omega 3 to 6 Ratios – The correct balance is ratios about 1:1 or 1:2, but because of how prevalent PUFAs are in packaged foods and used so commonly as cooking oils, the 3 to 6 ratio is off. In the modern American diet, most people have an Omega 3 to 6 ratio of 1:15 or more!
Omega 3’s essentially come from fish. Although some plant foods, like chia seeds, contain Omega 3’s as ALA, they have extremely low bioavailability in humans. On the other hand, Fish is loaded with DHA and EPA, the fat-soluble Omega 3’s that are very bioavailable in humans. Omega 6’s, on the other hand, are everywhere. They are found in nuts, legumes, margarine and all those packaged foods and condiments mentioned earlier that contain nut, seed, or vegetable oils. Fast food chains cook in them, as do restaurants. As a result of the high prevalence of Omega 6s in the food industry, a typical diet is highly imbalanced in favor of Omega 6 fatty acids. Unfortunately, too many Omega 6 fats lead to chronic inflamation in the body, associated with nearly ever disease model. So if you have whole fish regularly and avoid eating too many nuts, your ration will be optimal!
The processed PUFA’s, if consumed in excess, cause the following diseases:
1. Obesity - Studies have correlated the rise of PUFA consumption with the increase in obesity in America. The levels of PUFA fats stored in body fat levels have increased by 136% over the last half-century. PUFAs can lead to obesity because toxins gets stored in body fat. As a measure to protect you from toxins (in this case, the toxic nature of oxidized fats), your body intelligently stores it away in your body fat. Getting rid of the PUFAs stored in body fat can occur either through exercise or by excreting it in breast milk. The problem with trying to burn PUFA’s off by exercise, they shut down your body’s ability to produce energy. This failure to burn fat for fuel results in a craving for glucose (sugar), which in itself can lead to obesity by causing insulin resistance. This is why afternoon slumps (sugar or caffeine cravings, brain fog, or irritability) can often signify metabolic distress. When your body cannot switch into ‘fat burning mode’ during times in between meals or on a longer fast, there is metabolic dysfunction. If you can’t burn body fat, it accumulates over time!
2. Cancer - There is a well-established link between PUFA consumption and cancer rates. Two studies highlight the consumption of PUFAS with the increase in breast cancer rate in rats. This link in animal studies was later confirmed in human studies, too. One study in particular highlights that the increase in breast cancer was prevalent only with polyunsaturated fats and not with mono or saturated fats. For men, the consumption of PUFA-rich corn oil was linked to testicular cancer in rats. An eight-year study published the findings comparing men on a low-PUFA diet with those on a high PUFA-diet, and found cancer rates to be much higher in the high-PUFA cohort.
3. Heart Disease - Although many labels and organizations preach saturated fat as being the cardiovascular-causing fat, the reality is that there is very little connection (if any) between saturated fat and heart disease. On the other hand, polyunsaturated fats are connected with heart disease, particularly with the relatively high consumption of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids. A study of Israeli-Jews as in their culture, consume some of the highest Omega 6 PUFAs in the world, about 8% more than Americans and 10-12% higher than in most other Europeans found that they have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and obesity-all diseases that are associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.
4. Impaired Immune Function - Rancid PUFAs impair the immune system. PUFAs act as an immunosuppressant on the body, making you more susceptible to various ailments, including bacteria, viruses, and cancer. One of the most commonly found PUFA is sunflower oil. Sunflower oil was once used as an immunosuppressant for patients undergoing renal transplants to decrease the likelihood of the body rejecting a new kidney. Although it worked, the cancer rates in these patients also sored (up to 20% higher than expected).
Larisa Belote, Health Practitioner & Certified Detox Specialist is a strong believer that your body is a smart machine and can heal itself given a chance and the right set of tools. Make an appointment today to discuss how to prevent or reverse disease and have the strongest immune system. Call/Txt 732-996-6963 or email: email@example.com