Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vegan and fatty acids

-- Notes from reading Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet / Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

Fatty Acids
a basic component of fats and oils, are divided into the following categories
  • Saturated Fat (SFA)
  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MFA)
  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)***
  • Trans Fatty Acids
Saturated Fat (SFA) molecules completely packed or "saturated" with hydrogen. Generally hard at room temperature. Often considered "bad fats" because they have consistently been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MFA) fatty acids having one spot in the carbon chain where hydrogen is missing. Fats high in these MFA are generally liquid at room temperature and semi-solid when refrigerated. These are generally considered "good fats"; they are beneficial to health and can protect against chronic diseases, especially heart disease. These are neutral or slightly beneficial in their effects on total cholesterol levels and do not decrease HDL ("good") cholesterol; may even slightly increase it. Some evidence show MFA reduce blood presure and enhance blood flow... Main dietary sources are olives, olive oil, canola oil, avacados, most nuts (except for walnuts and butternuts), high-oleic sunflower oil, and high-oleic safflower oil.
Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA) fat molecules having more than one spot in the carbon chain where hydrogen is missing. Fats high in PUFA are liquid at room temperature and when refrigerated. Reviews concerning their health effects are inconsistent.... Main dietary sources are vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, and other plant foods.

***Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
The two polyunsaturated fatty acids required in the diet.
  • Linoleic Acid a parent in the omega-6 fatty acids family
  • Alpha-linolenic Acid a parent in the omega-3 fatty acids family

Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
larger polyunsaturated fatty acid molecules.
  • in omega-6 family: Linoleic Acid --converted-- Arachidonic Acid (AA)
  • in omega-3 familty: Alpha-linolenic Acid --converted-- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

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