PUFA and MUFA sourcesThere are various types of cooking oils and many of us are often confused on how to choose the right one. Each oil has its own properties, serves different purposes. While extra virgin Olive oil is recommended for salad dressings, sunflower oil goes well for deep fried stuff.

Cold or wood pressed coconut, sesame, groundnut oils are back in vogue, thanks to the growing awareness on traditional recipes. And if you have come across the terms PUFA and MUFA while researching about right oils and fats and wondering about these references, in this article we will tell you the difference between these both important essential fats and their role in maintaining good health.

What Is A Fat?

Fat is one of the three macronutrients while the other two being carbohydrate and protein. Fat is also known as triglycerides which comprise 3 fatty acids esters chains and the alcohol glycerol. Fats provide 9 calories per gram whereas carbs and protein give 4 calories per gram. Most of the fat found in foods are made up of medium to long chain fatty acids.

Functions Of Fat

Source Of Energy

Fat provides a back source of energy to the body when the body goes low on carbs. Excess of calories is stored as lipids in adipose cells, fuel the body and up the levels of energy.

Aids In Vitamin Absorption

Vitamins A, D, E, And K are fat-soluble vitamins which require adequate intake of fat in the diet to function well.

Maintain Temperature

Fats are stored in the adipose tissues, which works as an insulator to maintain normal body temperature.

Guard Vital Organs

Some of the major organs like brain, nerve tissue and bones are protective by fat as a cushion against sudden trauma and work as a shock absorber.

Recommended Intake Of Fat

About 30% of calories should come from total fat which is required for optimal growth and development.

Less than 7% of total calories from saturated fat

10% of total calories from monounsaturated fat

15-20% of total calories from polyunsaturated fat

Less than 200 mg/day of dietary cholesterol

What Are MUFA And PUFA?

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are healthy fat molecules with one double bond fatty chain acids and remaining carbon atoms are single bonded. Plant oils rich in MUFA are liquid at room temperature and semisolid or solid when chilled. Natural food sources abundant in MUFA are dairy products, nut, seeds, olives and avocados and it is the main part of the Mediterranean diet. Sunflower oil contains 85% MUFA, while olive Oil has 75% and canola oil has 58%. Some of the other good sources of MUFA are almond, corn, sesame, peanut, grapeseed, safflower and whole grain wheat.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are healthy lipid molecules which have two or more carbon-carbon double bonds. Oils rich in PUFA are liquid in room temperature, viscosity and melting point temperature increases inversely to double bond. Good sources of PUFA are walnut, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and poppy seeds.

PUFA are of two types omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are of 3 types linoleic acid, Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and it is abundant mostly in fish and some of vegetarian sources are chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds.

Rich sources of Omega-6 Fatty Acids are oils of palm, soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower.

Foods abundant in omega-6 fatty acids are eggs, whole grain foods, nuts, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, walnuts. However, major food sources of EPA and DHA are fish oils and krill oil.

Health Benefits Of MUFA And PUFA

Omega 3 fatty acids possess strong anti-inflammatory properties which lower risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, promotes vision and boost brain health.

Prefer MUFA and PUFA rich oils instead of saturated fats and other unhealthy fats as it can reduce the risk of heart disease.

MUFA are good in improving the insulin levels and keeps blood sugar under control.

Evidence has proven that regular usage of MUFA lowers the bad cholesterol and improves the level of good cholesterol.

Omega 3 fatty acids rich in PUFA promote mood and alleviate depression and anxiety.

Omega 3 fatty acids promote normal fetal development.

MUFA and PUFA intake as per recommendation help in cell and nerve maintenance and aid in digestion.

The key is moderation as excessive fat intake can increase the risk of chronic ailments.