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Why Cis Unsaturated Fatty Acids Are Good For You (6 Reasons)

What to Know About Cis Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Eating the right foods is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It can be difficult to know what to eat at first, but once you get a feel for it, it becomes easier to make good choices.

Cis unsaturated fats are natural fats that are often referred to as good for your heart. They have been found to increase good cholesterol in blood lipids and has helped reduce cardiovascular diseases.

This article will focus on cis unsaturated fatty acids and why they are important. We will also cover food sources and explore the benefits of cis unsaturated fatty acids.

Cis Unsaturated Fatty Acids: What is it and Why is it Important?

Cis unsaturated fatty acids have a cis double bond in the hydrocarbon chain of the fat molecule. When these two hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the fatty acid carbon chain backbone then we have a cis unsaturated fatty acid.

Cis unsaturated fatty acids can be grouped into Cis-MUFAs and Cis-PUFAs.

Cis-MUFAs are having one double bond with the hydrogen atoms present on the same side of the double bond, whereas Cis-PUFAs have two or three double bonds.

Typically, plant sources rich in cis monounsaturated fatty acids including high oleic safflower and sunflower oils are liquid at room temperature than trans fatty acids.

Fortunately, most naturally occurring fatty acids in foods have the cis configuration. It is usually when cis unsaturated fats are partially hydrogenated to form trans fats.

Cis-MUFAs that are present in the diet include:

  • Caproleic
  • Lauroleic
  • Myristoleic
  • Palmitoleic
  • Oleic
  • Gadoleic
  • Erucic
  • Nervonic

Types of Cis-PUFAs:

  • Linoleic acid
  • Alpha linolenic acid
  • Arachidonic acid
  • Docosahexanoic acid

Oleic acid is predominantly found in plants and vegetable sources, it accounts for 92% of dietary monounsaturated fatty acids.

MUFAs including oleic acid and nervonic acid (24:1; n-9) are important in membrane structural lipids, mainly nervous tissue myelin. Oleic acid also has anti-cancer and anti-atherogenic properties.

Other MUFAs such as palmitoleic acid are present in minor amounts in the diet. With the exception of erucic acid (22:1; n-9), their health study has not been known till date.

Food Sources of Cis Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Foods containing cis unsaturated fatty acids are from plant based oils, seeds and nuts, they include:

  • Macadamia oil
  • Palm oil
  • Mid-Oleic sunflower
  • Mustard oil
  • Salmon
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Milkweed seed oil

There is convincing evidence that replacing carbohydrates with cis MUFA increases HDL cholesterol. However, replacing SFAs (C12:0 to C16:0) with cis-MUFAs reduces serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, apoB100 and total to HDL-cholesterol ratio. Serum HDL-cholesterol, apo-AI, and triacylglycerol concentrations hardly changed.

Additionally, oils rich in cis-PUFA had significant effects on LDL-cholesterol and the total to HDL-cholesterol ratio than Cis-MUFA.

6 Reasons to Consume Cis Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Cis unsaturated fatty acids are an important part of a heart-healthy diet. There are good reasons why you should consume cis unsaturated fatty acids:

1. Low Mortality Rates

Recent studies conducted by the harvard school of public health found that, higher intake of cis unsaturated fats from plant-based foods compared to carbohydrates was associated with between 11% and 19% lower overall mortality for an increase in 5% to 10% of total calories. PUFAs such as linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid were linked with lower risk of premature death.

2. Lower Risks of Coronary Heart Disease And High Blood Pressure

Consumption of cis n-3 PUFAs, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have demonstrated physiological benefits on blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides, inflammation, endothelial function and cardiac diastolic function.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommended intakes of at least 5%–10% of energy from n-6 PUFA in order to reduce coronary heart disease risk based on evidence from intervention studies with increased linoleic acid intake.

3. Increases HDL Cholesterol Levels

Substituting saturated fats with foods that have cis unsaturated fatty acids in them reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in blood lipids.

4. Reduces The Risks of Type 2 Diabetes

In Garg’s meta-analysis, isoenergetic high cis-MUFA and high-CHO diets in patients with type 2 diabetes were analyzed, the studies showed that, intakes of high-MUFA diets improved fasting postprandial blood glucose, 24-h glucose and insulin profiles while having no effect on fasting insulin and glycated hemoglobin concentrations.

5. Prevention of Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is one of the key processes in the development of coronary heart disease, this occurs when bad cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessel walls. Eating foods containing cis unsaturated fatty acids reduces LDL cholesterol in serum concentrations.

6. Reduces The Risks of Cancer

Cis-MUFAs such as oleic acid rich in olive oil and sunflower oil are protective against the growth of cancer.


Cis unsaturated fatty acids are good for you and they are have been found to be beneficial for the heart. It is important to incorporate them in dietary fats with carbohydrates to help reduce the risks of heart diseases and deaths.

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