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9 Best Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats That are Heart Healthy

Good Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are good for the heart and can be found in a wide variety of foods, such as dairy products and plant oils.

They can be useful to the body and improve heart health. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks that comes with some types of polyunsaturated fats.

In this post, we are looking at polyunsaturated fats, their sources and health benefits.

What You Need to Know About Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are fatty acids that contains more than one unsaturation in their molecules, and due to this feature they have the potential to be beneficial to your health. The most studied fatty acids are namely: linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid.

Those considered long-chain fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid, which can be divided into two classes, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats: 

  • Oily fish
  • Walnut
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Soyabean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Hazelnut

1. Oily Fish

The fat in fish is rich in the long chain PUFAs such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Oily cold water fish including salmon, mackerel, sardine and herring from the atlantic contains the largest amounts of these fatty acids.

The acids may be beneficial in coronary artery disease, due to their hypolipidaemic effects. In two studies, consumption of 20-30g of oily fish daily for over four weeks reduced serum cholesterol, low density lipoproteins, and triglycerides.

2. Walnut

Walnut kernels contain about 60% lipids, and a large proportion of these lipids are unsaturated. It’s major constituents of the oil are triglycerides, sterols, sterol esters and phosphatides.

The major fatty acids found in walnut oil are oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. Lower content of these fatty acids may have a longer shelf life, and MUFAs may be more desirable because of their potential health benefits.

A diet supplemented with walnuts has beneficial effect on blood lipids, lowering blood cholesterol and lowering the ratio of serum concentrations of LDL:HDL by 12%.

3. Sunflower Seeds

New nutrient data shows that sunflower seeds contain a good amount of plant chemicals, thought to be advantageous to health. Sunflower seeds contains MUFAs and PUFAs that protects the heart.

Studies has shown that higher unsaturated fat diets may be preferable even to low-fat diets because they lower bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, while maintaining HDL-cholesterol, which is needed to carry the bad cholesterol away. Almost 90% of the fat in sunflower seeds is unsaturated.

4. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seed is high in oil, protein, and unsaturated fatty acids. Pumpkin seed is a popular ingredient in snacks sold in retail stores, such as trail mixes with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, and is also used as an ingredient in breakfast cereal and bread.

Pumpkin seed is a nutritious food with 50% oil and 35% protein. The high levels of unsaturated fatty acids, oleic and linoleic acids in pumpkin seed oil reduces the risks of atherosclerosis and heart-related diseases. Phytosterols in pumpkin seeds also plays a key role in lowering cholesterol levels.

5. Sesame Seeds

These seeds contain sesaolion and sesamin, components may help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.

These components are also a good source of omega-3, omega-6, vitamin E and monounsaturated fats that prevents furring of arteries and skin elasticity.

The seeds are especially rich in PUFAs and MUFAs, oleic acid which comprises up to 20%, and 18% linolic acid. Oleic acid reduces bad cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol in the blood.

6. Flaxseed

Flax is rich in fat, protein and dietary fibre. Analysis of brown canadian flax averaged 41% fat, 20% protein, 28% total dietary fibre and 7.7% moisture.

Flaxseed is rich in PUFAs, particularly omega-3 fatty acids; linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexanoic acid.

All three fatty acids have been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Supplementation of diet with flaxseed can reduce atherosclerosis and lower trans fats levels.

7. Soyabean Oil

Soybean seed oil is the one of the most preferred oil for a healthy life. It mostly consists of PUFAs which are heart healthy with several benefits.

Soybean oil contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids that helps reduce inflammation and protects against heart disease. This oil contains a higher proportion of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.

Both types are good for you but eating too much of omega-6 fatty acids with less omega-3s can contribute to inflammation and chronic disease. It is best to pair soybean oil with other foods that also contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

8. Corn Oil

Corn oil is a rich source of linoleic acid, which is good of the skin, cell membranes, immune system and for the synthesis of eicosanoids necessary for cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal functions and resistance to diseases.

It is highly effective for lowering serum cholesterol, primarily LDL cholesterol. Omega-6 fatty acid is rich in corn oil and has good stability in cooking and storage because of low proportion of linolenic acid.

9. Hazelnut

Hazelnut, scientifically known as corylus species, is born of hazel, from the family betulaceae. It is considered an exotic fruit, being originated from North America, particularly the species C.americana and C.cornuta. Hazelnut is a good source of fats like other nuts i.e. almond, cashew etc. The lipid fraction forming the major part of hazelnut is 100% triglycerides.

It contains palmitic acid, steracic acid, linoleic acid and linolenic acid. Hazelnut oil decreases cholesterol levels in blood plasma and also controls hypertension.

The Phenolic components of hazelnut reduces MDA levels and increases antioxidant activity in blood plasma. These factors directly changes the plasma lipid profile in the body.

Conclusion

All these foods are good sources of polyunsaturated fats and is beneficial to your heart. Most types of polyunsaturated fats contains high omega-6 and should be balanced with diets containing omega-3 fatty acids. This helps decrease bad cholesterol in your blood and reduces coronary heart disease risks.

We hope this article helped you know about the sources of polyunsaturated fats and it’s health benefits.

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