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Can any Good Come from PUFA Consumption?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 04, 2010 at 1:26 AM

Numerous studies have documented that consumption of PUFAs tends to lower serum cholesterol levels. My question is how/why does that happen and can any good come of it?

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 10, 2010
at 05:24 AM

Ooh, interesting. Thank you. If such is the case, one would expect PUFA cholesterol lowering to be more of a short term thing-something to look for the studies will be the length of the study.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:54 PM

I think that tons of omega 6 balanced by tons of omega 3 is better than just tons of omega 6 without the 3. But indeed, neither situation is acceptable.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:41 AM

Yeah, you wouldn't want to balance an overdose of n-6 with an additional overdose of n-3.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:40 AM

I'm also talking about repair after body-building workouts since (I think) it prompts a cortisol reaction.

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 05, 2010
at 11:33 PM

Then you'd have to go back to my first question - the test subjects could have had lots of good cholesterol, and now their numbers have dropped but it's due to forming small dense LDL instead... Only the scientists could tell us that. Beyond that, there's still a huge margin for individualisation when it comes to how our bodies respond, so studies tend to be inconclusive...

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on October 05, 2010
at 04:25 PM

Gotta agree with Stabby here, mostly based on Dr. Harris: "PaNu suggests we prefer SFA and MUFAs , then minimize overall PUFAs with a ratio appropriate to the EM2. A ratio of O-6:O-3 close to 2:1 is desirable, which suggests complete avoidance of mechanically extracted vegetable oils high in O-6, and if necessary, compensatory supplementation with O-3s via fish or fish oil." http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/6/22/fats-and-oils.html

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 05, 2010
at 03:44 AM

They are feeding people 'healthy' grain oils and those people are getting lower levels of cholesterol. They are saying this means grain oils are healthy. My question, what is really going on with this? (no I am not talking about O3 intake)

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 05, 2010
at 03:42 AM

I've actually seen a sprained ankle swelling compared as similr with other kinds of inflammation. The mechanism is the same and so is the cause, which is injury and an attempt by the body to heal it. For an ankle, one would assume that you will try your best not to sprain it or overuse it again for a while, but for arteries, the mechanism of injury is not as well understood and possibly not as easy to avoid (yes we can improve diet, but there are probably other issues like stress, age, etc)

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 05, 2010
at 02:26 AM

I guess then the next question would be - what kind of PUFAs? I know that an imbalance of O3:O6(:O9?) is inflammatory, which would prompt the creation of more cholesterol fix-its... So a drop in cholesterol may just suggest a lowered need for such band-aids.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 04, 2010
at 08:59 PM

Oh okay. I mean reduce them and balance them. Obviously if we have 5g of omega 6 we would be better off with 5g of omega 3, but we don't really want to have much more than we have to. But it is still good to get more saturated and monounsaturated fat even if we're getting a little extra PUFA in the process because saturated fats are protective against inflammation and beneficial in many aspects. Within that context of lots of fat we just want to be sticking to the lower omega 6 sources most of the time.

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on October 04, 2010
at 08:14 PM

@Scott - I don't think muscular inflammation, or swelling from a sprained ankle for ex, are the same things as arterial inflammation. There's a difference between having low cholesterol due to lack of inflammation and having high inflammation but lowering cholesterol with diet and/or drugs. People think it's the LDL causing heart disease (CVD) but the increased LDL is the body's way of trying to repair damage caused by inflammation! Check out the UCLA article I posted below that deals with low cholesterol and heart attacks.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 04, 2010
at 07:02 PM

I suppose that damage could even be from appropriate exercise, right? E.g. repairing and building muscle, etc.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 04, 2010
at 07:02 PM

I guess the question, then, is whether the goal should be to maximally reduce one's PUFA intake or balance the n-3/n-6 ratio - or some combination?

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on October 04, 2010
at 06:24 PM

As far as I understand it, high Cholesterol is the bodies response to inflamamtion; so that the cholesterol can get to work repairing damage. If there is a good balance of omega 3 to omega 6 then surely the omega 3 will be reducing inflammation - thus reducing the body's need to produce more cholesterol - so lower serum cholesterol could be a sign that all is well rather than a reason to worry?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 04, 2010
at 03:51 PM

I never said we must avoid them all. Only that it is best to reduce them as much as possible. Complete straw man.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 04, 2010
at 05:43 AM

Seems a little strong. You *can't* avoid them since they're in all the foods we eat - SAD *or* paleo - so the goal is to improve the balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 (not Omega minus 3 as one of those articles called it). Was there another article - besides raypeat - that said the PUFAs are not essential? Also, in one way we never stop "growing" because we're constantly replacing tissue.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 04, 2010
at 05:30 AM

Just to clarify, I am not trying to say we should eat PUFAs. What I am saying is I think the fact that PUFAs lower cholesterol is very interesting. And that we do not know for sure that every single thing PUFAs do is always 100% bad. I don't plan to eat a bunch of PUFAs personally, by I am in interested in the science behind how cholesterol is and is not formed, what it does, and how PUFAs effect our metabolism. The fact that PUFAs lower cholesterol is a very interesting one. How/why do they do that? To answer that correctly is to understand the whole process better.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 04, 2010
at 05:26 AM

Yeah, very low cholesterol seems quite deleterious. However, PUFAs seem to lower it from whereever it is, high or low. I don't particularly buy into the lower is better theory myself as I don't think LDL is the direct cause of probs, just a symptom. HOwever, I think that the fact that PUFAs lower cholesterol is a clue, somehow, as to how both PUFAs and cholesterol are working in the system. That is why I think this is a very important question. What are the PUFAs doing that alters the system and creates lower cholesterol?

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4 Answers

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3
3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on October 04, 2010
at 07:49 PM

Why PUFA lowers serum cholesterol:

"Along with saturated fats, cholesterol in the cell membrane gives our cells necessary stiffness and stability. When the diet contains an excess of polyunsaturated fatty acids, these replace saturated fatty acids in the cell membrane, so that the cell walls actually become flabby. When this happens, cholesterol from the blood is "driven" into the tissues to give them structural integrity. This is why serum cholesterol levels may go down temporarily when we replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated oils in the diet."

http://www.health-report.co.uk/saturated_fats_health_benefits.htm

Keep in mind, the question about PUFA lowering cholesterol presumes that "low" cholesterol is a good thing. I often reference UCLA's study from 2000 - 2006 that found about 73% of heart attack victims that were admitted to their hospital had "normal" cholesterol levels, and 50% had "optimal" cholesterol levels http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/majority-of-hospitalized-heart-75668.aspx

If a person has "high" cholesterol, it's often a sign of inflammation. But reducing LDL would be like limiting your body's ability to heal a cut... the ability to make a scab on your arm isn't the problem, it's the cut.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 10, 2010
at 05:24 AM

Ooh, interesting. Thank you. If such is the case, one would expect PUFA cholesterol lowering to be more of a short term thing-something to look for the studies will be the length of the study.

2
1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 04, 2010
at 03:29 AM

What type of cholesterol though? It's better to have a lot of big, fluffy LDL than a smaller amount of small, dense LDL... Most of my reading suggest that it's about quality, not quantity.

And when it is about quantity, the studies seem to suggest that having quite low cholesterol numbers is more closely associated with reduced longevity/all cause mortality than higher levels.

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 05, 2010
at 11:33 PM

Then you'd have to go back to my first question - the test subjects could have had lots of good cholesterol, and now their numbers have dropped but it's due to forming small dense LDL instead... Only the scientists could tell us that. Beyond that, there's still a huge margin for individualisation when it comes to how our bodies respond, so studies tend to be inconclusive...

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 05, 2010
at 03:44 AM

They are feeding people 'healthy' grain oils and those people are getting lower levels of cholesterol. They are saying this means grain oils are healthy. My question, what is really going on with this? (no I am not talking about O3 intake)

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 04, 2010
at 05:26 AM

Yeah, very low cholesterol seems quite deleterious. However, PUFAs seem to lower it from whereever it is, high or low. I don't particularly buy into the lower is better theory myself as I don't think LDL is the direct cause of probs, just a symptom. HOwever, I think that the fact that PUFAs lower cholesterol is a clue, somehow, as to how both PUFAs and cholesterol are working in the system. That is why I think this is a very important question. What are the PUFAs doing that alters the system and creates lower cholesterol?

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01

on October 05, 2010
at 02:26 AM

I guess then the next question would be - what kind of PUFAs? I know that an imbalance of O3:O6(:O9?) is inflammatory, which would prompt the creation of more cholesterol fix-its... So a drop in cholesterol may just suggest a lowered need for such band-aids.

1
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 04, 2010
at 03:53 AM

No absolutely not, we want as little as possible. They aren't essential nutrients, that is a lie. They are essential during growth but once we are finished growing we don't need any more. Omega 3 is great if you have high omega 6 tissue concentration but neither are a good thing if you have a balance tissue concentration, so that would be the first step. There are many lies and obfuscations about polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 gets the good rep and it is certainly important to balance inflammation with enough of it, but polyunsaturates are problematic in their own right so we just want to keep them low.

Lowing cholesterol with polyunsaturates may be good or bad. Omega 3 will reduce inflammation in the presence of omega 6 and thus lower cholesterol and that is good. Omega 6 will not result in anything good, just lower HDL and smaller particle sizes, and a host of other bad things. Honestly, this fixation with lowering cholesterol needs to stop. What we want is a favorable lipid profile, which I think is seemingly high LDL, just pattern a LDL and high HDL. Those are reduced by polyunsaturates. So what I would do is to get tissue HUFAs right and get c-reactive protein down and then keep both omega 6 and omega 3 low in a 1:1 ratio. We don't want any more than we have to have to have an appetizing diet.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12548439?ordinalpos=13&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7934543 http://circres.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/84/9/1085?ijkey=a0289a6739022fe625f3e230571ad088a1f53375 (also found that linoleic acid damaged the endothelium) http://omega-6-omega-3-balance.omegaoptimize.com/ http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/12/omega-6-linoleic-acid-suppresses.html http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/unsaturatedfats.shtml

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20117361 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15618542?itool=EntrezSystems2.PEntrez.pubmrf%20.%20pu%85%208/27/2010

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 04, 2010
at 07:02 PM

I guess the question, then, is whether the goal should be to maximally reduce one's PUFA intake or balance the n-3/n-6 ratio - or some combination?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:54 PM

I think that tons of omega 6 balanced by tons of omega 3 is better than just tons of omega 6 without the 3. But indeed, neither situation is acceptable.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 04, 2010
at 03:51 PM

I never said we must avoid them all. Only that it is best to reduce them as much as possible. Complete straw man.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 04, 2010
at 05:43 AM

Seems a little strong. You *can't* avoid them since they're in all the foods we eat - SAD *or* paleo - so the goal is to improve the balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 (not Omega minus 3 as one of those articles called it). Was there another article - besides raypeat - that said the PUFAs are not essential? Also, in one way we never stop "growing" because we're constantly replacing tissue.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:41 AM

Yeah, you wouldn't want to balance an overdose of n-6 with an additional overdose of n-3.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on October 05, 2010
at 04:25 PM

Gotta agree with Stabby here, mostly based on Dr. Harris: "PaNu suggests we prefer SFA and MUFAs , then minimize overall PUFAs with a ratio appropriate to the EM2. A ratio of O-6:O-3 close to 2:1 is desirable, which suggests complete avoidance of mechanically extracted vegetable oils high in O-6, and if necessary, compensatory supplementation with O-3s via fish or fish oil." http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/6/22/fats-and-oils.html

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on October 04, 2010
at 08:59 PM

Oh okay. I mean reduce them and balance them. Obviously if we have 5g of omega 6 we would be better off with 5g of omega 3, but we don't really want to have much more than we have to. But it is still good to get more saturated and monounsaturated fat even if we're getting a little extra PUFA in the process because saturated fats are protective against inflammation and beneficial in many aspects. Within that context of lots of fat we just want to be sticking to the lower omega 6 sources most of the time.

1
5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 04, 2010
at 02:08 AM

Any good? Yes. Omega-6 and Omega-3 are both PUFAs and they're essential in that our body needs them but cannot manufacture them. I don't know about them raising or lowering serum cholesterol, though.

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on October 04, 2010
at 06:24 PM

As far as I understand it, high Cholesterol is the bodies response to inflamamtion; so that the cholesterol can get to work repairing damage. If there is a good balance of omega 3 to omega 6 then surely the omega 3 will be reducing inflammation - thus reducing the body's need to produce more cholesterol - so lower serum cholesterol could be a sign that all is well rather than a reason to worry?

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:40 AM

I'm also talking about repair after body-building workouts since (I think) it prompts a cortisol reaction.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on October 04, 2010
at 07:02 PM

I suppose that damage could even be from appropriate exercise, right? E.g. repairing and building muscle, etc.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 05, 2010
at 03:42 AM

I've actually seen a sprained ankle swelling compared as similr with other kinds of inflammation. The mechanism is the same and so is the cause, which is injury and an attempt by the body to heal it. For an ankle, one would assume that you will try your best not to sprain it or overuse it again for a while, but for arteries, the mechanism of injury is not as well understood and possibly not as easy to avoid (yes we can improve diet, but there are probably other issues like stress, age, etc)

3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on October 04, 2010
at 08:14 PM

@Scott - I don't think muscular inflammation, or swelling from a sprained ankle for ex, are the same things as arterial inflammation. There's a difference between having low cholesterol due to lack of inflammation and having high inflammation but lowering cholesterol with diet and/or drugs. People think it's the LDL causing heart disease (CVD) but the increased LDL is the body's way of trying to repair damage caused by inflammation! Check out the UCLA article I posted below that deals with low cholesterol and heart attacks.

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