Monounsaturated fat

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For a discussion on how dietary fats affect cardiovascular health, see Diet and heart disease.

In biochemistry and nutrition, monounsaturated fatty acids ('MUFAs', or more plainly monounsaturated fats) are fatty acids that have one double bond in the fatty acid chain with all of the remainder carbon atoms being single-bonded. By contrast, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have more than one double bond.

Fatty acids are long-chained molecules having an alkyl group at one end and a carboxylic acid group at the other end. Fatty acid viscosity (thickness) and melting temperature increases with decreasing number of double bonds; therefore, monounsaturated fatty acids have a higher melting point than polyunsaturated fatty acids (more double bonds) and a lower melting point than saturated fatty acids (no double bonds). Monounsaturated fatty acids are liquids at room temperature and semisolid or solid when refrigerated.

Molecular description of monounsaturated fatty acids[edit]

Common monounsaturated fatty acids are palmitoleic acid (16:1 n−7), cis-vaccenic acid (18:1 n−7) and oleic acid (18:1 n−9). Palmitoleic acid has 16 carbon atoms with the first double bond occurring 7 carbon atoms away from the methyl group (and 9 carbons from the carboxyl end). It can be lengthened to the 18-carbon cis-vaccenic acid. Oleic acid has 18 carbon atoms with the first double bond occurring 9 carbon atoms away from the carboxylic acid group. The illustrations below show a molecule of oleic acid in Lewis formula and as a space-filling model.

Oleic acid's skeletal formula Oleic acid's space-filling structure

Relation to health[edit]

Allegedly, polyunsaturated fats protect against cardiovascular disease by providing more membrane fluidity than monounsaturated fats, but they are more vulnerable to lipid peroxidation (rancidity). On the other hand, some monounsaturated fatty acids (in the same way as saturated fats) may promote insulin resistance, whereas polyunsaturated fatty acids may be protective against insulin resistance.[1][2] Furthermore, the large scale KANWU study found that increasing monounsaturated fat and decreasing saturated fat intake could improve insulin sensitivity, but only when the overall fat intake of the diet was low.[3] Studies have shown that substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure. More physical activity was associated with a higher-oleic acid diet than one of a palmitic acid diet. From the study, it is shown that more monounsaturated fats lead to less anger and irritability.[4]

Foods containing monounsaturated fats reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while possibly increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.[5] However, their true ability to raise HDL is still in debate.

Levels of oleic along with other monounsaturated fatty acids in red blood cell membranes were positively associated with breast cancer risk. The saturation index (SI) of the same membranes was inversely associated with breast cancer risk. Monounsaturated fats and low SI in erythrocyte membranes are predictors of postmenopausal breast cancer. Both of these variables depend on the activity of the enzyme delta-9 desaturase (Δ9-d).[6]

In children, consumption of monounsaturated oils is associated with healthier serum lipid profiles.[7]

The Mediterranean Diet is one heavily influenced by monounsaturated fats. People in Mediterranean countries consume more total fat than Northern European countries, but most of the fat is in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish, vegetables, and certain meats like lamb, while consumption of saturated fat is minimal in comparison. The diet in Crete is fairly high in total fat (40% of total calories, almost exclusively provided by olive oil) yet affords a remarkable protection from coronary heart disease (and probably colon cancer) ,[8] but unlikely breast cancer due to a very high oleic acid content.

Natural sources[edit]

Monounsaturated fats are found in natural foods such as red meat, whole milk products, nuts and high fat fruits such as olives and avocados. Olive oil is about 75% monounsaturated fat. The high oleic variety sunflower oil contains as much as 85% monounsaturated fat. Canola oil and Cashews are both about 58% monounsaturated fat. Tallow (beef fat) is about 50% monounsaturated fat and lard is about 40% monounsaturated fat. Other sources include macadamia nut oil, grapeseed oil, groundnut oil (peanut oil), sesame oil, corn oil, popcorn, whole grain wheat, cereal, oatmeal, safflower oil, almond oil, sunflower oil, hemp oil, tea-oil Camellia, and avocado oil.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lovejoy, JC (2002). "The influence of dietary fat on insulin resistance". Current Diabetes Reports 2 (5): 435–40. doi:10.1007/s11892-002-0098-y. PMID 12643169. 
  2. ^ Satoshi Fukuchi; Hamaguchi, K; Seike, M; Himeno, K; Sakata, T; Yoshimatsu, H (June 1, 2004). "Role of Fatty Acid Composition in the Development of Metabolic Disorders in Sucrose-Induced Obese Rats". Experimental Biology and Medicine 229 (6): 486–93. PMID 15169967. 
  3. ^ Vessby B, Unsitupa M, Hermansen K, Riccardi G, Rivellese AA, Tapsell LC, Nälsén C, Berglund L, Louheranta A, Rasmussen BM, Calvert GD, Maffetone A, Pedersen E, Gustafsson IB, Storlien LH (2001). "Substituting dietary saturated for monounsaturated fat impairs insulin sensitivity in healthy men and women: The KANWU Study". Diabetologia 44 (3): 312–9. doi:10.1007/s001250051620. PMID 11317662. 
  4. ^ C Lawrence Kien, Janice Y Bunn, Connie L Tompkins, Julie A Dumas, Karen I Crain, David B Ebenstein, Timothy R Koves, Deborah M Muoio (2013). "Substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure and with changes in mood". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 97 (4): 689–697. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.051730. PMID 23446891. 
  5. ^ "You Can Control Your Cholesterol: A Guide to Low-Cholesterol Living". Merck & Co. Inc. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  6. ^ Valeria Pala, Vittorio Krogh, Paola Muti, Véronique Chajès, Elio Riboli, Andrea Micheli, Mitra Saadatian, Sabina Sieri, Franco Berrino (July 18, 2001). "Erythrocyte Membrane Fatty Acids and Subsequent Breast Cancer: a Prospective Italian Study". JNCL 93 (14): 1088–95. doi:10.1093/jnci/93.14.1088. PMID 11459870. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  7. ^ Sanchez-Bayle M, Gonzalez-Requejo A, Pelaez MJ, Morales MT, Asensio-Anton J, Anton-Pacheco E (2008). "A cross-sectional study of dietary habits and lipid profiles. The Rivas-Vaciamadrid study". Eur. J. Pediatr. 167 (2): 149–54. doi:10.1007/s00431-007-0439-6. PMID 17333272. 
  8. ^ "Mediterranean Diet". Linus Pauling Institute. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  9. ^ nutritiondata.com → Oil, vegetable, sunflower Retrieved on September 27, 2010
  10. ^ nutritiondata.com → Egg, yolk, raw, fresh Retrieved on August 24, 2009
  11. ^ "Feinberg School > Nutrition > Nutrition Fact Sheet: Lipids". Northwestern University. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. 

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