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COuld someone explain my confusion of MUFA/PUFA/SFA?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 06, 2012 at 3:25 AM

Okay, I know that PUFA is more readily oxidized than MUFA, and MUFA more so than SFA. SFA is revered because it is stable (i.e. less prone to oxidation). IN my mind, this just means that it is harder for the body to burn SFA as energy as opposed to MUFA or PUFA- you are a better fat burner when the diet is composted of mostly MUFA/PUFA over SFA.

My own n=1 experimentation would show that I feel, perform, and look better with more MUFA emphasis as opposed to SFA emphasis. Also, several studies show you MUFA and PUFA are better used as fuel for the body than SFA, which is most readily partitioned into fat storage. For example, this one: http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v11/n12/full/oby2003202a.html

I think people hear oxidation and they immediately think free radical damage. Of course you are going to generate free radicals, but those occur no matter what you're doing as long as you are burning some form of energy.

Could someone please tell me where my reasoning is going wrong?

Thanks for the help.

EDIT: don't get me wrong. I do eat saturated fat from what is in red meat, small amounts of coconut oil or butter to cook with, and the occasional bit of whipped cream. I just don't make it the majority of fat calories- which comes from beef and avocado and almonds + fish oil.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 02:51 PM

Wild animals are usually 1/3, 1/3 1/3 sat, mono, poly. Fish chicken, game meat and venison are commonly available meats that still are roughly at those levels. I dont think theres anything to support the "paleo" notion of loading with extra sat fats alone, or eating loads of beef. Then again, fish is low fat/high protein, and nuts and avocado are omega 6 high, so that still doesnt seem like an ideal balance and/or close to the majority of calories. (Sat fat btw is the prefered energy source of the liver and heart - you definately need some)....getting "the right balance" is my current quest.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on May 06, 2012
at 09:20 PM

Just for the record, most animal fats have a fair amount of MUFAs too. Butter is 30%, tallow 50%. Coconut is about the only almost completely saturated fat I eat, and in that case the MCTs are processed differently.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 06, 2012
at 07:10 PM

Yes, you can find many studies which "prove" health benefits of MUFA and/or PUFA, just like you can find many studies which "prove" the dangers of SFA...

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 06, 2012
at 06:23 AM

I was thinking about beta oxidation, too. When we talk about oxidation with regard to unsaturated fatty acids, we generally mean rancidity and "going bad." (Veg/seed oils that are toxic before they even hit the store shelves b/c of heat/pressure/exposure to air during extraction & refining). Oxidation as it refers to burning fatty acids for fuel *inside the body,* seems like a different mechanism somehow, and probably one we're evolutionarily designed for, as opposed to ingesting fats that are already oxidized.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on May 06, 2012
at 05:13 AM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13129479 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18996857 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16919541 Those are 3 more studies on the benefits of MUFA vs SFA.

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2 Answers

1
Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 06, 2012
at 07:08 PM

I don't think it's true that less prone to oxidation equals harder for the body to burn. I am not a biochemist, but I think beta oxidation of unsaturated fat requires additional enzymes which are not needed for beta oxidation of saturated fat. Can't argue with wikipedia. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_oxidation

Our bodies choose to store excess energy as SFA, so why wouldn't it be a good fuel source?

1
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on May 06, 2012
at 03:32 AM

Well...one caveat, I HATE when someone states "several studies show"....then precede to list ONE citation. Just annoying. Beyond that if you really want to delve into FFA metabolism then your gonna have to go far deeper than those three classifications seeing as there are dozens of them that all seem to have somewhat different physiological response in some sense. I'll admit to not being well versed enough to expound on each one, but I've read enough to tell you that not all Saturated, mono, or pufas react the same.

As to where you are wrong I suppose is that all those things get broken down and run through beta oxidation for energy in the end, its just how much collateral damage occurs in between storing and in the breaking down process.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 06, 2012
at 06:23 AM

I was thinking about beta oxidation, too. When we talk about oxidation with regard to unsaturated fatty acids, we generally mean rancidity and "going bad." (Veg/seed oils that are toxic before they even hit the store shelves b/c of heat/pressure/exposure to air during extraction & refining). Oxidation as it refers to burning fatty acids for fuel *inside the body,* seems like a different mechanism somehow, and probably one we're evolutionarily designed for, as opposed to ingesting fats that are already oxidized.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on May 06, 2012
at 05:13 AM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13129479 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18996857 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16919541 Those are 3 more studies on the benefits of MUFA vs SFA.

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