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Thread: animal fats vs. plant fats page

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    tracy v.'s Avatar
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    animal fats vs. plant fats

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    I am looking for research data regarding any differences in how the human body utilizes animal fat vs. plant fat in terms of absorption, assimilation, etc. Am I correct in thinking the omega 3/6 ratio might be the primary factor? If so, and if a plant source, such as chia seed, has a high omega 3 level, would the body find the plant fat as optimal as an animal fat source? I'd be delighted to read comments from this well-informed group! thank you

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    No, because omega fatty acids are polyunsaturated. While the 3:6 ratio is important, quantity-wise they should be kept low like other PUFAs.

    Also, plant fats tend to be mostly PUFAs.

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    The omega-3 thing is actually even more complicated. The omega-3s in plant sources are structurally different from the omega-3s in animal sources. You may want to look into the differences between ALA (the omega-3 fatty acid in plant sources) and DHA and EPA (the omega-3 fatty acids in animal sources). ALA can only be used by the body after it is converted to DHA or EPA, and there is are questions regarding how efficiently the body can do this.
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    tracy v.'s Avatar
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    Is the objection to plant fat then mostly because of the high ALA? Would there be any other factors to consider? thanks

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    The ALA vs DHA & EPA thing only explains the difference in their omega-3 fatty acids. Like Grumpy Caveman pointed out, plant fats are usually polyunsaturated. These PUFAs (which include both omega-6 and omega-3) can go rancid easily, promote inflammation, and may suppress the immune system. Balancing the omega-6 : omega-3 ratio is helpful, but minimizing PUFAs overall is still a good idea.

    Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are another plant fat, but those are definitely healthy. It is why olive oil (mostly MUFAs) is considered a better choice than corn oil or soybean oil (mostly PUFAs).

    Another important healthy plant fat to consider is coconut (and the other tropical oils). It is almost all saturated fat, but has a different fatty acid profile than saturated animal fats, and may provide unique benefits. In this case, the plant fat isn't necessarily better or worse, but it is different, and may be even easier for the body to utilize due to its specific molecular structure.

    Unfortunately, I don't have links to the scientific studies handy, but Google Scholar is great for finding specific articles once you know which terms to plug in.

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fats/
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/guest...tropical-oils/
    The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

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    tracy v.'s Avatar
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    That helps clarify things... what I am trying to understand is this structural difference in plant fats, and am curious about your reference to perhaps being easier for the body to utilize. Coconut oil is indeed a great food! Thanks for the tip about Google Scholar, I've not used it before. Theholla, I appreciate your taking the time to reply!

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    My pleasure! Just to clarify, it is only coconut oil that may be easier to utilize. It's really unique and interesting stuff.

    This is an article on it that is unfortunately low on citations, so you'll have to try to figure out what studies he is drawing his information from: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/coconut-oil.shtml

    Here's a bunch of interesting stuff, though you should definitely try some other search terms too: hhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=coconut+oil+medium+chain+fatty+aci ds+metabolism&as_sdt=800000000000&as_ylo=2000&as_v is=0

    I don't think there is really any general statement I would make about plant fats vs. animal fats in general, since they are each made up of so many different types of fatty acids, some good, some bad, some still a total mystery.
    The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

    You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do. - Kilgore Trout

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