Unsaturated fatty acids are molecules that consist of a long, unbranched hydrocarbon chain with at least one double bond between the carbon atoms. Most of them can be synthesized by the human body, and some of them have to be ingested through food. Unsaturated fatty acids have preventive effects against diseases and have a favorable effect on complaints.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are found in olive oil or peanut oil, as well as nuts and avocados. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are u. a. contained in rapeseed and linseed oil and in high-fat fish such as herring or salmon.
Unsaturated fatty acids belong to the upper group of fatty acids. These are aliphatic monocarboxylic acids. These chemical compounds consist of an unbranched carbon chain and a terminal carboxyl chain.
Unsaturated fatty acids have a special chemical structure. They are alkenoic acids whose carbon chain has at least one double bond between two carbon atoms. Depending on the number of double bonds, their names differ: a double bond is a monounsaturated fatty acid, and many bonds are polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The names are determined by the position of the double bond in relation to the omega end. In this way, the names omega-3 (n3) fatty acid and omega-6 (n6) fatty acid are used for unsaturated fatty acids.
Unsaturated fatty acids are important for numerous internal processes in the body in addition to their quality as a high-performance energy supplier.
The organism needs them for the function of the metabolism and the elasticity of the cell membranes. Unsaturated fatty acids strengthen the immune system, lower the blood fat level and have a favorable effect on blood pressure. In most cases the human organism is able to synthesize unsaturated fatty acids itself. These are known as non-essential fatty acids. However, some of the unsaturated fatty acids must be ingested through the diet.
These are the so-called essential fatty acids. From these, hormone-like regulatory substances form in the further course, which cause internal processes. In the human body, these are alpha-linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, and linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. The most effective omega-3 fatty acids are EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid, and DHA, docosahexaenoic acid.
In science, there is growing knowledge about the positive health effects of unsaturated fatty acids. Nutritionists recommend reducing the consumption of saturated fatty acids and increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) advises healthy adults to consume 250 mg EPA and / or DHA daily. Monounsaturated fatty acids are found primarily in oleic acid.
This is a component of olive oil, rapeseed and peanut oil, nuts and avocados. Monounsaturated fatty acids are easier for the body to digest. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are u. a. contained in rapeseed and linseed oil and in high-fat fish such as herring, salmon, mackerel or tuna.
Effect as a regular part of the diet unsaturated fatty acids positive effects on human health. A number of studies are available on their effectiveness in various diseases.
In 2010, the DGE confirmed the effect of a regular intake of unsaturated fatty acids in preventing coronary heart disease with a meta-analysis of intervention studies with over 13600 participants. Furthermore, it has been shown that unsaturated fatty acids have a positive effect on various risk factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood lipid levels, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have a beneficial effect on the cholesterol level, which is cited as an indicator of heart disease. Elevated cholesterol can lead to deposits on the vessel walls, which can lead to secondary diseases.
As confirmed by study data, unsaturated fatty acids lead to a reduction in the “bad” LDL cholesterol. In the case of "good" HDL cholesterol, they slightly increase the value. The connection between food and health is also demonstrated by eating habits in the Mediterranean countries. Here the population consumes a large proportion of their food as unsaturated fatty acids. The proportion is 16 to 29 percent of the total food intake daily. Cardiovascular risk forms are reduced with this diet.
It is advisable for pregnant women to consume sufficient DHA daily, as a good supply of unsaturated fatty acids plays an important role in the development of growth and cognitive abilities in the unborn child. For other diseases such as B. in type II diabetes, cancer, asthma and Crohn's disease, a beneficial effect of unsaturated fatty acids is assumed.