Is Polyunsaturated Fat Even Necessary in Our Diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 18, 2012 at 7:15 AM

Are polyunsaturated fats necessary in our diet at all? I am having difficulty researching this and sorting through all of the BS which gets planted on all of the pages of results. I am sorry if this is a dumb question LOL but I have been so busy and I have been spending a large amount of time also researching many other topics. I just want to eat some hemp butter: I have three tablespoons of Olive Oil a day and I wanted to add some hemp seeds to my diet since they lack phytic acid and trypsin inhibitors. Their Omega ratio is 3:1 with Poly being in the majority. But Olive Oil has a much higher ratio in favor of Mono. I was dumb thinking that Omega- 3 is good from vegetable sources because it was uncooked but now I remembered something I read a long time ago how DHA and EPA are made so I will be adding more grass-fed fat and fish to my diet. But I still want to eat about three servings of hemp seed a day and I won't have any other source of Poly except for Olive Oil and meat.

Is three servings of hemp seed too high? I would eat more fatty meat but I want a balance with cooked fat and uncooked fat and of course my wallet. Thank you for anyone who has any advice or who has tried to help.



on January 18, 2012
at 05:11 PM

How can you grow any hemp if you eat the seeds?

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5 Answers



on January 18, 2012
at 07:45 AM

Eat pastured egg yolks...

Yes we need PUFAs:


Current reviews and textbooks call the omega-6 linoleic acid and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid "essential fatty acids" (EFA) and cite the EFA requirement as one to four percent of calories. Research suggests, however, that the omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA) and the omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the only fatty acids that are truly essential.


Two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) PUFA, are essential for the vertebrate body, because they cannot be formed de novo and need to be ingested from the diet.



on January 18, 2012
at 09:09 AM

You don't really need all that much polyunsaturated fat. The general paleo take on things is that you should limit it, and in particular omega-6 PUFA, and even more in particular rancid omega-6 PUFA.

Eric is right to the best of my knowledge about the EFAs (essential fatty acids) and the classic take on them (linoleic + ALA) and the more sophisticated take on them (AA + DHA).

The one article you can read to get all of this under your belt is this one, by Chris Masterjohn:

"Precious yet Perilous."

Hmm, that one should really have a subtitle. No matter. Read it and all will be clear. He talks about just how small the requirement for the EFAs is -- but also addresses the question of whether or not additional EFAs can be healthy.

As for that hemp seed, I don't quite see why you would need it. I think the general consensus these days is eat your pastured meat and your pastured egg yolks and make sure to get some wild-caught fish. There are probably some benefits to supplementing omega-threes for some people, or maybe most, but to be honest I'm not the best person to ask about omega-3 supplementation because I just do the everything-pastured-plus-occasional-sushi-and-salmon-and-oysters route.


on January 23, 2012
at 08:07 AM

I don't think we know for sure that polyunsaturated fats are essential. Ray Peat has some discussion on this. http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fats-degeneration3.shtml

Even if polyunsaturated fats are essential, there's considerable controversy as to the upper limit of what can be considered a safe intake. www.theiem.org/documents/ISSFAL2010DinnerDebateReport.pdf

Dr. Bill Lands suggests that more than one or two percent of total caloric intake of polyunsaturated fats might be the safe upper limit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgU3cNppzO0

However this matter is eventually decided, it's clear that excessive omega-6 consumption is a global trend. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2003-09-28/news/0309270148_1_overweight-or-obese-women-were-overweight-south-africa

Interestingly, the edible oils industry has bred seed oils that are lower in omega-6s. http://www.foodandbeveragepeople.com/cm/news/saturated_fats



on January 18, 2012
at 11:58 AM

Yes, there are essential polyunsaturated fats.

Paleo likes to minimize processed, refined, oxidized fats. That's why seed oils are out, hell of a lot of processing necessary to get oil out of a seed or "vegetables". Additionally, seed oils also have god-awful ratios of omega-3s to omega-6s. Those are definitely some reasons to avoid seed oils, but PUFAs?

You can the idea that any and all PUFAs are just the devil. I'm not so sure that PUFA-hate is warranted. Pork and chicken do have 10% PUFAs as a proportion of fat. Salmon is 33% of fats are PUFA. Raw avocados have 12% fats as PUFA. Those are natural, whole sources, unprocessed, unrefined. Their ratios (aside from Salmon) are biased towards omega-6s. However, there's simply no comparison in PUFA quality between refined seed oil and unprocessed animal fat.

Not eating seed oils, you'd be hard-pressed to break even 10% PUFA total in your diet. With a couple percent of those being omega-3, you'd have a very appropriate ratio.



on January 18, 2012
at 08:03 AM

Yes, I believe that PUFA are necessary, just not in large quantities. Sorry no source ATM

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