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Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are unsaturated fatty acids with two or more double bonds. The double bond’s position relative to the methyl end forms the basis of PUFA classification. The most commonly used and well studied PUFAs are omega 3(n-3) and omega 6(n-6) fatty acids. The body lacks the enzymes required for the biosynthesis of some PUFAs. These essential fatty acids comprise of α-linolenic acid (omega-3 PUFA) and linoleic acid (omega-6 PUFA). These fatty acids can be elongated to long chain fatty acids but the rate of synthesis is too slow hence these PUFAs should be supplemented in the diet (EUFIC, 2012). Sources of n-6 PUFAs are safflower oil, soy and corn. N-3 PUFAs can be found in flaxseed, canola oil, soy and fish.
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Both omega 3(n-3) and omega 6(n-6) fatty acids elicit beneficial health effects. PUFAs mediate a rise in good high density lipoprotein HDL cholesterol and aid in the elimination of triacylglycerols (TAG) from blood. They also serve a protective function against cardiovascular heart disease (CVD). It has been established that omega-3 PUFAs prevent the emergence and progression of CVD. N-3 PUFAs reduce the overall mortality of myocardial infarction and instant death in CVD patients. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are important N-3 PUFA that have significant anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antihypertensive, antidepression, antiarthritis, antidepression, and antioxidant effects (Siriwardhana, Kalupana & Moustaid-Moussa, 2012).
Arachidonic acid (n-6 PUFA) is the precursor of leukotrienes and prostaglandins that are important mediators and regulators of inflammation. In studies conducted on vascular endothelial cells, n-6 PUFA mediated their anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing the proliferation of interleukins, chemokines, adhesion molecules that are all mediate the process of atherosclerosis. Elevated levels of n-6 PUFAs especially arachidonic acid have been associated with significantly low plasma levels of serum proinflammatory markers, especially antagonists of interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 receptors. The level of anti-inflammatory markers is high especially transforming growth factor-β. Overall consumption of PUFAs greatly promotes proper cognitive and neurological development in babies(William et al., 2009). PUFAs activate PPARgamma and PPAR alpha thereby promoting lipid oxidation, and also reducing insulin resistance. The latter reduces the incidence of hepatic steatosis (Rodríguez et al., 2005).
Banning the use of trans-fats in all countries all over the world will avert the adverse health effects of trans-fats. Trans-fats have been banned in several regions and health authorities have noted a positive impact on the health of citizens. The ban of trans-fats began in several regions such as New York City (Neergaard, 2012). Health authorities have reported a significant decline of the fats trans-fats which have been described as artery cloggers. This ban complements the efforts of a low calorie diet in a bid to reduce the high obesity rate in the nation. It was hailed as an important decline in heart disease for the large masses who regularly consume fast food.
Illnois is also at the forefront in banning the artery clogging trans-fats from food in movie theatres, restaurants, bakeries, cafes and schools (Eng & Deardorff, 2011). Health authorities have hailed the removal of the dietary toxin from the state’s food supply. Moreover, there is the increased benefit of increasing the consumption of healthy PUFAs. Trans-fats have been banned in Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Chicago, Denmark and Switzerland. According to Sciencedaily (2010), the ban of trans-fats in Britain has reduced the incidence of heart attacks as well as deaths. The removal of these industrial trans-fats has been hailed as an effective public health strategy for improving health. A 1% decline in the consumption of trans-fats has been postulated to prevent as many as7,000 deaths and 11,000 heart attacks in Britain.
If the use of trans-fats is not banned, consumers will continue to be at risk of obesity and chronic disease. Other proposed strategies to reduce the intake of trans-fats have proven ineffective. Aside banning, food processors have been required to label foods containing trans-fats. Restaurant owners have also been instructed to account for the source of calories in all foods served. Citizens are not likely to make informed food choices, as most people are likely to dismiss the risk posed by trans-fats as another health fad. In addition citizens lack the time, resources and even the will to research on health matters relating to the nutrient composition of foods. A central authority comprising of experts needs to undertake the research on behalf of citizens. After collection and analysis of findings, a proper response should be implemented on behalf of citizens. In most instances, foods prepared using trans-fats are cheaper processed food. Individuals looking to cut on their spending are like to overlook the risk posed by unhealthy trans-fats.
Other countries impose legislative limits on the amount of trans-fats. This is highly ineffective as research studies have established the adverse effects of trans-fats. These fats need to be eliminated from the diet as the consumption of small quantities is equally harmful to consumers. Some countries leave the responsibility to food producers. The food producers are expected to voluntarily reduce the consumption of trans-fats. This means that food producers have the prerogative to adjust the composition of trans-fats. This is highly ineffective as food producers are likely to opt for cheap trans-fats instead of more costly PUFAs. In a study conducted in the European Union, the consumption of trans-fats was reduced in countries that have imposed a total ban. The countries included Britain, Germany and France. The consumption was higher in other countries that had implemented legislative limits and those that had left the initiative to food producers. This comprised of Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary (Stender, Astrup,&Dyerberg, 2012).
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