Polyunsaturated fat

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In nutrition, polyunsaturated fat is an abbreviation of polyunsaturated fatty acid. That is a fatty acid in which more than one double bond exists within the representative molecule. That is, the molecule has two or more points on its structure capable of supporting hydrogen atoms not currently part of the structure. Polyunsaturated fatty acids can assume a cis or trans conformation depending on the geometry of the double bond.

The lack of the extra hydrogen atoms on the molecule's surface typically reduces the strength of the compound's intermolecular forces, thus causing the melting point of the compound to be significantly lower. This property can be observed by comparing predominately unsaturated vegetable oils, which remain liquid even at relatively low temperatures, to much more saturated fats such as butter or lard which are mainly solid at room temperature. Trans fats are more similar to saturated fat than are cis fats in many respects, including the fact that they solidify at a lower temperature.

A fatty acid has a carboxylic acid at one end and a methyl group at the other end. Carbon atoms in a fatty acid are identified by Greek letters on the basis of their distance from the carboxylic acid. The carbon atom closest to the carboxylic acid is the alpha carbon, the next adjacent carbon is the beta carbon, etc. In a long-chain fatty acid the carbon atom in the methyl group is called the omega carbon because omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet.

Omega-3 fatty acids have a double bond three carbons away from the methyl carbon, whereas omega-6 fatty acids have a double bond six carbons away from the methyl carbon. The illustration below shows the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid.



Polyunsaturated fat, along with monounsaturated fat are "healthy fats," the amount of which in one's daily diet should be near 25 g (in a 2000 calorie-per-day diet). Polyunsaturated fat can be found mostly in grain products, fish and sea food (herring, salmon, mackerel, halibut), soybeans, and fish oil. Foods like mayonnaise and soft margarine may also be good sources, but nutritional facts can vary by style and brand. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, fish and seafood lower the total amount of fat in the blood, which can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases.[1] Omega-6 fatty acids in sunflower oil and safflower oil also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but can contribute to allergies and inflammation. Polyunsaturated fat may lower LDL and HDL cholesterol. [2]

Some Examples of Foods containing polyunsaturated fat

Polyunsaturated fats and cancer

Some studies have shown that consuming high amounts of polyunsaturated fat may increase the risk of an individual developing cancer. This is thought to be because polyunsaturated fat is prone to oxidation [3] [4] , which leads to the generation of free radicals. Studies on animals have shown a link between polyunsaturated fat and the incidence of tumours. In some of these studies the incidence of tumours increased with increasing intake of polyunsaturated fat, up to about 5% of total energy, near to the middle of the current dietary intake in humans. However, studies in humans have found little evidence of an association between polyunsaturated fat and the risk on cancer. It is advised that the level of polyunsaturated fats in the diet be regulated, although the effect on health may be more beneficial than harmful in terms of its effect on reducing cholesterol levels.

See also


  1. National Institute of Health (August 1, 2005). "Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid". Retrieved March 26. Unknown parameter |accessyear= ignored (|access-date= suggested) (help); Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. You Can Control Your Cholesterol: A Guide to Low-Cholesterol Living by Merck & Co. & Co. Inc.
  3. Scislowski V, Bauchart D, Gruffat D, Laplaud PM, Durand D (2005). "Effect of dietary n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on peroxidizability of lipoproteins in steers". Lipids. 40 (12): 1245–56. doi:10.1007/s11745-005-1492-z. PMID 16477809.
  4. Diniz YS, Cicogna AC, Padovani CR, Santana LS, Faine LA, Novelli EL (2004). "Diets rich in saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids: metabolic shifting and cardiac health". Nutrition. 20 (2): 230–4. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2003.10.012. PMID 14962692.

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Cost Effectiveness of Polyunsaturated fat

| group5 = Clinical Trials Involving Polyunsaturated fat | list5 = Ongoing Trials on Polyunsaturated fat at Clinical Trials.govTrial results on Polyunsaturated fatClinical Trials on Polyunsaturated fat at Google

| group6 = Guidelines / Policies / Government Resources (FDA/CDC) Regarding Polyunsaturated fat | list6 = US National Guidelines Clearinghouse on Polyunsaturated fatNICE Guidance on Polyunsaturated fatNHS PRODIGY GuidanceFDA on Polyunsaturated fatCDC on Polyunsaturated fat

| group7 = Textbook Information on Polyunsaturated fat | list7 = Books and Textbook Information on Polyunsaturated fat

| group8 = Pharmacology Resources on Polyunsaturated fat | list8 = AND (Dose)}} Dosing of Polyunsaturated fatAND (drug interactions)}} Drug interactions with Polyunsaturated fatAND (side effects)}} Side effects of Polyunsaturated fatAND (Allergy)}} Allergic reactions to Polyunsaturated fatAND (overdose)}} Overdose information on Polyunsaturated fatAND (carcinogenicity)}} Carcinogenicity information on Polyunsaturated fatAND (pregnancy)}} Polyunsaturated fat in pregnancyAND (pharmacokinetics)}} Pharmacokinetics of Polyunsaturated fat

| group9 = Genetics, Pharmacogenomics, and Proteinomics of Polyunsaturated fat | list9 = AND (pharmacogenomics)}} Genetics of Polyunsaturated fatAND (pharmacogenomics)}} Pharmacogenomics of Polyunsaturated fatAND (proteomics)}} Proteomics of Polyunsaturated fat

| group10 = Newstories on Polyunsaturated fat | list10 = Polyunsaturated fat in the newsBe alerted to news on Polyunsaturated fatNews trends on Polyunsaturated fat

| group11 = Commentary on Polyunsaturated fat | list11 = Blogs on Polyunsaturated fat

| group12 = Patient Resources on Polyunsaturated fat | list12 = Patient resources on Polyunsaturated fatDiscussion groups on Polyunsaturated fatPatient Handouts on Polyunsaturated fatDirections to Hospitals Treating Polyunsaturated fatRisk calculators and risk factors for Polyunsaturated fat

| group13 = Healthcare Provider Resources on Polyunsaturated fat | list13 = Symptoms of Polyunsaturated fatCauses & Risk Factors for Polyunsaturated fatDiagnostic studies for Polyunsaturated fatTreatment of Polyunsaturated fat

| group14 = Continuing Medical Education (CME) Programs on Polyunsaturated fat | list14 = CME Programs on Polyunsaturated fat

| group15 = International Resources on Polyunsaturated fat | list15 = Polyunsaturated fat en EspanolPolyunsaturated fat en Francais

| group16 = Business Resources on Polyunsaturated fat | list16 = Polyunsaturated fat in the MarketplacePatents on Polyunsaturated fat

| group17 = Informatics Resources on Polyunsaturated fat | list17 = List of terms related to Polyunsaturated fat


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