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Unsaturated Fatty Acid

Unsaturated Fatty Acid

Unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) are fatty acids whose carbon chain contains one or more double or triple bonds, and which are capable or absorbing more hydrogen. They include the group polyunsaturates, are generally liquid at room temperature and are derived from vegetables, nuts, seeds or other sources. Examples of unsaturated fatty acids include corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and olive oil.

A small amount of highly unsaturated fatty acid is essential to animal nutrition. The body cannot desaturate a fat, such as vegetable shortening or margarine, sufficiently by its own metabolic processes to supply this essential need. Therefore, the dietary inclusion of unsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat is vital.

The three essential fatty acids (those which the body is unable to manufacture) are linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and arachidonic acid. However, these fatty acids can be synthesized from linoleic acid if sufficient intake occurs. Linoleic acid should provide about 2% of total dietary calories. Corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil are high in linoleic acid.

Unsaturated fatty acid is considered important in lowering blood cholesterol in atherosclerosis and thus may prevent heart disease. UFA is essential for normal glandular activity, especially of the adrenal glands. It is necessary for healthy skin and all mucous membranes and is a growth-promoting factor needed for many metabolic processes. It promotes the availability of calcium and phosphorous to the cells and can protect against damage by excessive radiation.

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