Are Oils With High PUFA Content Bad For Health?
People generally think that buying a cooking oil with less PUFA content is healthy. However, you should be aware of the fact that the body needs PUFA to carry out its physiological functions even if the amount needed by the body may be quite small.
PUFA- polyunsaturated fat
In straight terms, PUFA is called polyunsaturated fat which is obtained from plant sources and vegetable oils. It is one of the most essential forms of dietary fat vital for our body. Macro nutrients like glucose, saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are manufactured by the body but PUFA is not. It needs to be included in one’s diet i.e, through oil and other sources. Most of the vegetable oils available are low in PUFA whereas animal fats contain a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats.
Why is PUFA called ‘bad’?
PUFAs are a very unstable chain of chemicals that can harm cells and body tissues if taken in excess. Once inside the body, PUFAs oxidize or bond with sugars and proteins to form end products that are toxic. Perhaps this is the main reason why it should be consumed in very small quantities as consumption in large quantities can cause cell and tissue damage.
Excess PUFA can do the following:
It can disrupt metabolism
Due to excess PUFA in the body, the functioning of the thyroid gland and hormone production can get affected. This can lead to a sluggish metabolism and can disrupt the body’s normal physiological cycle.
It can adversely affect the immune system
PUFA causes inflammation in the body. Due to excess inflammation one’s immunity can go down drastically.
It increases the levels of cholesterol
Consuming oils rich in PUFA leads to oxidation of LDL cholesterol that increases the level of bad cholesterol in the body and arteries get clogged and this leads to heart diseases.
Got scared? Well, anyone would but please read on!
Why the body needs PUFA?
In order to function optimally the body needs this form of fat but in small amounts. It is required for the absorption of vitamins like vitamin A, K and D. Deficiency of PUFA is very rare but infants can be born with PUFA deficiency disease if the parent has not consumed it.
Including PUFA in your diet
Just because of the negative effects of PUFA you should not be getting rid of it from your diet. You should know how to keep the correct ratio between monounsaturated fat and PUFA. Olive oil is the healthiest fat and rich in monounsaturated fat. But do you know that it is low in PUFA and consuming this will not give you the health benefits of PUFA?
Here are ways to get the right amounts of PUFA:
- Read labels carefully while purchasing cooking oils. Always make sure that the PUFA’s ratio is less than that of saturated and monounsaturated fats.
- When the vegetable oil you use is low in PUFA and high in monounsaturated fat, add 1 teaspoon of desi ghee to three teaspoons of vegetable oil to get sufficient amount of PUFA.
- You should be eating foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids. When consumed in moderation, it is the best source of PUFA. Include flaxseeds, fish, fish oil and liver in your diet to get omega-3 fatty acid.
- You should limit foods that have high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. This is because they are rich in PUFA. PUFA when taken in excess can lead to build up of toxins in the body. Omega-6 fatty acid is found in nuts, sesame seeds and red meat.
A word of caution
PUFAs are known to bind with fructose in the body more readily than glucose. Thus, you need to avoid fruits like apple, pear, sugarcane or custard apple after consuming food made in PUFA rich oils.
Eat right to get the right amounts of all fats!
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