PUFAs are a highly debated topic among many dietary theories. In this post I break it down with studies and resources to help you determine if PUFAs are good or bad for you?
Okay, so I don’t plan on doing a ton of health posts. I don’t want to encourage any disordered eating in anyone by telling you what you shouldn’t eat. I am a former binge eater and the best thing I did for myself was to stop dieting.
My reason for doing this post was because I wanted to lay the groundwork and give you an idea of what my future recipes are going to look like and give you my reasons for it.
This is my ideal eating lifestyle and I am in no way judging you or the way you eat if you don’t share in my beliefs.
This is simply information I’ve come across. But know that I’ve suffered after pregnancy with mineral deficiencies, thyroid issues, and hormonal imbalances. If you are too, I encourage you to read. If it resonates with you, what I share today is a really simple switch (and in my opinion, a WAY MORE satisfying way to eat).
I thought this was important to address because you will most likely see my health theories throughout the recipes I post. My family tries our hardest to keep polyunsaturated fats out of the house. As much as I hated the craziness that ensued in 2020, the biggest blessing that came out of it was we no more eating out. Restaurants are the biggest culprits of using polyunsaturated fats.
My Health Journey
I grew up on the standard American diet. My dad was the caretaker for my siblings and I when my parents got divorced. He was incredible in that no matter how busy we were, we always had dinner together. He chaffeured us to practices and coached many of our sports teams. All while working his 9-5 job. Hardworking is an understatement used to describe this man. For that I’m forever grateful!
However, putting special focus on those things meant he couldn’t put much attention into meals. It was pretty common for us to have fast food a couple times a week and a lot of convenience meals. So you can imagine when I started dating my husband (who’s a chef) that he couldn’t believe that I had no real concept of what real ingredients were, let alone cooking.
I remember him busting me and lecturing me when he find JIF peanut butter in my pantry. He asked me what ingredients should be in peanut butter. I said peanuts. He then showed me the label and I was floored to see 20+ ingredients on it!
If You Have Health Issues, It’s Worth Trying To Decrease Your Intake Of PUFAs
Fast forward to major hormonal imbalances after my pregnancy and I knew some things needed to change in my lifestyle.
If you’ve been on any sort of journey to healing, it can be overwhelming to say the least. There are many opinions & diets out there. I’ve got suckered into a lot of them hoping it was the magic cure.
At the beginning of each new diet phase, I would try and convince myself it was working. I may have felt different in the first month, but long term I had to get honest with myself and realize it wasn’t working.
But my most recent success was getting rid of PUFAs. When I look back on all the different diet trends I tried, PUFA’s were always consumed. Growing up it was PUFA’s from fried foods from the drive thru to my vegan phase where I guzzled almond milk, nut butters, and seeds.
Are PUFAs Good Or Bad Video
What Are PUFA’s & Are They Good Or Bad?
PUFA’s are also known as polyunsaturated fats.
All fat sources are a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and/or saturated fats, but the ratio is different depending on the food you’re eating. Today I’m talking specifically about foods that contain amounts of PUFAs.
Oils are a very common PUFA, but not all oils are a PUFA. The best “test” in finding out whether an oil is a PUFA or not is questioning what form is it in? All PUFAs remain a liquid no matter the temperature, unlike coconut oil that forms a solid when it’s cool.
Polyunsaturated fats are deficient in hydrogen atoms making them unsaturated. Because of their double bond, it makes them highly sensitive to heat, light & oxygen. When they’re exposed to those things, they break off and form what is called free radicals.
Furthermore, our body is heated perfectly at 98.6 and we breathe in oxygen. Also, when you go outside you are exposed to light.
Those free radicals that form in our body from the PUFAs can lead to health issues like autoimmune disease, diabetes, cancer, skin damage, heart issues, and much more.
The History Of PUFAs
In the mid-1900s, rapeseed oil, flax oil, and fish oil, were toxic waste products used in the paint industry. Once synthetic oil started being used, it was either stop making money off of the waste, or CREATE an industry.
They figured out how to turn the oil into a profit, by manipulating the science to make it seem like it was good for you and they marketed it that way.Oil-based paints became illegal so they had to figure out what they were going to do with the oils, and they figured out how to make it a profit.
Unfortunately, companies have done this before (I’ll talk about RoundUp in another post). They took a waste product, bleached and deodorized it, convinced us it was better, and have gotten away with it.
Now it’s all over the food industry because it’s far cheaper. And it’s used it so many of the processed foods in the grocery stores.
The Health Risks of PUFAs
- Mitochondrial Impairment
- Liver damage
- Suppress digestion
- Insulin resistance
- Effects the liver and skin
What Foods Have PUFA’s?
If this all sounds a little alarming, my intention is never to scare you. I want to empower you. Making changes can be hard so I always encourage baby steps. Oils are THE MOST processed PUFAs out there so this is something I would put your priority toward first. The list of oils includes:
- almond oil
- canola oil/rapeseed/cottonseed oil
- fish oil
- lindseed oil
- safflower oil
- sunflower oil
- corn oil
- soybean oil
- generic vegetable oil
- walnut oil
- cottonseed oil
- sesame oil
- peanut oil
- flaxseed oil
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts & seeds, I’ll admit were the hardest for me to wrap my head around. It’s a highly regarded food for the paleo diet and vegans. Let me give you an example of animals eating PUFAs (such as nuts & seeds) in nature.
For instance, bears eat a lot of fatty fish, seeds, & nuts which are all high in PUFAs. This allows them to put on fat and slows down their metabolism by 75% for the winter. Then they can hibernate properly and survive. This also goes for squirrels, and the same with cold water fish.
So in nature, the fats that are liquid at colder temperatures (PUFAs) slow down functions and serve as hibernation mechanisms.
As a human, we don’t hibernate. Our higher body temperatures cause the PUFAs to oxidize inside of us, resulting in increased levels of inflammation and a multitude of metabolic and general health issues.
The list of nuts with PUFAs are:
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- brazil nuts
- pine nuts
- hazelnuts, etc
Luckily, there’s things you can do to help your body digest nuts more easily, and I may do another post on that alone.
Cold Water Fish
Fish is another touchy subject. I think it’s easy to see health as black and white, but there are gray areas. Fish will have PUFAs in them, but sometimes the benefits (like beneficial vitamins & minerals) outweigh the risk.
Pay attention to your body’s signals and everything in moderation, right?
- herring, etc
- algae oil
- fish oil
- krill oil
- cod liver oil
The easiest solution is to start incorporating saturated fats into your lifestyle.
Remember, eating saturated fats used to be completely normal! They were the traditional foods that have been eaten forever and in an instant, they led us to believe it was the main cause of heart disease and cholesterol?
If you are experiencing a health issue like hormonal imbalance, switching to saturated fats could help.
Saturated fats are:
- grass fed butter
- coconut oil
- grass fed ghee
- raw cacao butter
- shea butter
- egg yolks
- whole milk
Another thing that benefits me as a homesteader is that it’s much easier to get saturated fats from my land. Whether it’s from a dairy cow, chickens, or rendering your own tallow. These options to me are more sustainable.
Take a Vitamin E Supplement. You’ll also want to be able to detox those PUFA’s from your body. PUFA’s increase Vitamin E requirements by six times! Below are a few options for you to try.
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You get what you paid for and I have your support in keeping up with my blog. See my full disclosure)
The recommendations below I’ve tried linking from the company themselves to directly support them.
- Mitolife PUFA protect (use my link for 15% off your order)
- Unique E
- Swanson Real Food E
- Thorne Research Ultimate-E
- North America Herb And Spice Purely-E
What About Monounsaturated Fats?
Avocado oil and olive oil are helpful in small amounts, but they should be consumed cold. I love using them as finishing oils or dressings. They should always be kept in cool, dark places and be stored in dark bottles.
To end the point on monounsaturated fats, be sure the oils pass third party testing. Again companies get sneaky and will sell “olive oil” with a 50:50 ratio with canola oil to make it cheaper.
Studies on PUFA’s
But please don’t take my word for it. Below or some studies found on the dangers of PUFA’s.
- Relationship between vitamin E requirement and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake in man: a review
- Vitamin E Function and requirements in relation to PUFA
- On the problematic nature of vitamin E requirements: net vitamin E
- Medium chain triglycerides and vitamin E reduce the severity of established experimental alcoholic liver disease
- Suitable Fats, Unsuitable Fats
- The Great Fish Oil Experiment
- Fats & Degeneration
- Unsaturated fatty acids: Nutritionally essential, or toxic?
- Lowering dietary linoleic acid reduces bioactive oxidized linoleic acid metabolites in humans
- Unsaturated fatty acids and their oxidation products stimulate CD36 expression in human macrophages
- A high linoleic acid diet increases oxidative stress in vivo and affects nitric oxide metabolism in humans
- Changes in dietary fat intake alter plasma levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein and lipoprotein (a)
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Let’s Chat About It!
I’d love to know if you’ve ever considered limiting PUFAs in your diet? If you have, how did it go?