What are polyunsaturated fats?
Chemically speaking, polyunsaturated fats are lipids in which the hydrocarbon chain contains two or more carbon-carbon double bonds. This essentially means that the double bonds are unsaturated and have the capacity to accommodate more hydrogen atoms, thereby gradually becoming saturated. When there are no more double bonds left in the hydrocarbon chain, the fat is said to be fully saturated. Importantly, oils that contain polyunsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. However, at lower temperatures they start to solidify. Polyunsaturated fats are commonly referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). In this article, we will use these terms interchangeably.
What are the sources of polyunsaturated fats?
There are many foods that are rich in PUFA. These are usually plant-based oils although other foods also contain them. The rich sources of PUFA are mentioned below:
• Soybean oil
• Corn oil
• Sunflower oil
• Olive oil
• Nuts and seeds
• Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and albacore tuna
What are the daily requirements of polyunsaturated fats?
As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, the following polyunsaturated fats constitute the total PUFA pool:
• Linoleic acid (LA)
• Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
• Arachidonic acid (AA)
• Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
• Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)
• Docosahexaenoic (DHA)
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