What Are PUFAs/Seed Oils?
Seed oils include many different oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats. You may hear them referred to as PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats) because of their high PUFA content. These include the following oils:
Not only are these oils high in polyunsaturated fats, but several of them are also commonly genetically modified (GMO). For more information on what foods are genetically modified and why it is important to avoid GMO foods check out “Eating Nongmo is Important for Your Health”.
Types of Fats
The four types of fats are saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fat.
Saturated fats have no double bonds, making them resistant to oxidation. These are the good fats you want to consume. You can read more about saturated fats in my article “Saturated Fats are Actually Good for You”.
Monounsaturated have one double bond making them unstable and susceptible to oxidation.
Polyunsaturated have two or more double bonds, making them very unstable and prone to oxidation.
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been hydrogenated to make them more solid at room temperature. An example would margarine, which is not healthy.
Oxidation leads to free radicals, which causes cellular damage and accelerated aging. Oils oxidize as a result of exposure to oxygen, which can happen in the bottle as well as in the body. Because of the structure of PUFAs they are the most prone to oxidation.
Why Avoid PUFAs/Seed Oils?
High amounts of polyunsaturated fats can cause several issues such as:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Blocking digestive enzymes
- Blocking thyroid hormone secretion
- Inhibiting enzymes that break down proteins
- Damaging the immune system by killing white blood cells
- Producing free radicals
- Lowering metabolism
- Accelerated aging
- Inflammation (the root of disease)
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
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What to Use Instead
Instead of using seed oils turn to the good, saturated fats like coconut oil, tallow, butter, and ghee that comes from good clean sources. Preferably for the animal products you want them to be nongmo grassfed. If the animals are fed soy and corn the meat will be high in unsaturated fats.
The best ways to find clean sources of animal products is to get to know your local farmer and buy through Azure Standard.
What About Olive Oil?
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, so it can still oxidize due to having a double bond but is not as prone as PUFAs. Instead of using olive oil to cook with keep it for a dressing.
What are PUFAs in?
Polyunsaturated fats are in everything in different ratios, some foods are going to be higher than others. For example, the seed oils listed at the beginning are going to be your foods highest in these fats. These fats are also present in other foods, but not at such concerning levels.
Some will say you need to cut all fish and the vegetables that are high in polyunsaturated fats, but it is about ratios. If you aren’t consuming high amounts of PUFAs and instead are consuming higher amounts of saturated fats your body can handle some PUFAs. The human body has been doing so for a long time. It has been more recent years with processing of foods that we have greatly increased our intake of PUFAs in the form of seed oils, which is causing a variety of health issues.
Plan of Action
Avoid seed oils/PUFAs as much as you can and focus instead on consuming saturated fats. Still eat the vegetables and natural unprocessed foods that contain some polyunsaturated fats. Focus on switching out your cooking oils to healthier oils high in saturated fats.
Where can you learn more about PUFAs?
Ray Peat has done a lot of research on hormones and the effects of polyunsaturated fats. His website is raypeat.com
Another person to follow is Kate Derring. She wrote the book “How to Heal Your Metabolism”. A big part of working at healing the metabolism is cutting out the seed oils and upping saturated fats. This will also help decrease your chances of burning in the sun.