If I told you to eliminate one item from your diet, what do you think that one thing would be? Would you guess sugar? Or maybe processed white flour? While both of those would be good guesses, neither are the right answer. Consumed in enormous quantities, it turns out there is a substance far more damaging than these commonly feared foods, and it’s probably one that you aren’t even aware of. Due to accelerated aging, heart disease, obesity, and even cancer, even many healthy eaters aren’t aware of this food substance they need to avoid.
What is PUFA?
So what is this substance that you are regularly consuming that is derailing your efforts to get healthy? The answer is polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as PUFAs.
First, a short chemistry lesson. There are three main types of fat in the foods that we eat:
- saturated fatty acids (SFAs)
- monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)
- polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
Unsaturated fats, including PUFAs, are lacking a hydrogen atom in their bond structure. They also have more than one (poly) double bond in the carbon chain. Compare that to saturated fats that do not lack this bond and have a complete chain.
Think of the double bonds in a PUFA as fractured links in a chain. In a sense, this missing hydrogen atom makes the PUFAs chain incomplete, and therefore less stable. The instability of the PUFAs makes them prone to damage from heat, light, and oxygen.
Interestingly, the oxidation quality is why oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as walnut oil and flaxseed oil, are used as a wood varnish. While these oils may be great at protecting wood, oxidation can cause all kinds of illnesses and health issues in your body.
Eliminate PUFAs From Your Diet
Okay, enough chemistry. You’re here because you want to know why you should eliminate the consumption of PUFAs in your diet. I can give you the answer in one word, inflammation. Inflammation contributes to every chronic disease you can think of, including:
- type 2 diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- metabolic syndrome
- autoimmune diseases
- rheumatoid arthritis
Do you know what’s scary? Since the introduction of industrial vegetable and seed oils into the American diet, there has been a direct correlation to increased heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Coincidence? I think not.
So how do you eliminate PUFAs? PUFAs are present in most packaged foods, sauces and salad dressings, fried foods, and many baked goods, but the most damaging are found in processed liquid cooking oils like:
- Grapeseed Oil
- Linseed Oil (Flaxseed Oil)
- Walnut Oil
- Canola oil
- Corn Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Almond Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Vegetable Oil
In addition to avoiding PUFA oils, you can also take these three steps:
- Use healthy, heat-stable cooking fats (such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee, or grass-fed tallow). Avocado oil is also a good choice, as well as olive oil if cooking at low temperatures.
- Consume high PUFA foods like nuts and seeds in limited quantities. These foods tend to switch our body into “conservation mode,” so if weight-loss is a goal of yours, severely limit these foods in your diet.
- Be sure to consume only grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, and pastured chicken and eggs to avoid PUFAs in the animal products you are eating.
Learning how to develop healthy lifestyle behaviors can feel overwhelming and confusing. Telling you to do something, like to stop consuming PUFAs, is helpful. But, helping you create a personalized system in your life that shows you how to avoid PUFAs in your diet but still get to eat delicious food and feel full every time you eat is how sustainable changes are made. This is what Tolleson Health is all about.
Are you ready to make a change?
- Most “healthy eaters” aren’t aware that PUFAs are linked to accelerated aging, heart disease, obesity, and even cancer.
- PUFAs are a substance that you are regularly consuming that is severely hampering your efforts to get healthy.
- The over-consumption of PUFAs in your diet causes inflammation and contributes to many chronic diseases.
- Tolleson Health Advisors is here to provide support and guidance so you can make lasting lifestyle changes.