What Happens if the Body Is Deprived of Unsaturated Fat?
Unsaturated fats, sometimes called “healthy” fats, are necessary energy-dense macronutrients responsible for improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation and facilitating stable heart rhythms, among other functions. Categorized as either monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and peanut oil, or polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in fish and flax seeds, unsaturated fats are a part of any healthy diet. Depriving the body of unsaturated fats leads to many negative effects.
Higher Risk of Heart Disease
According to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, several studies have confirmed that men who eat fish at least once weekly are less likely to die from coronary heart disease than those who do not. Similarly, the institute reports that the rate of mortality from coronary heart disease in women with the highest intake of omega-3 unsaturated fats was significantly less than those with the lowest intake. Men and women whose unsaturated fat intake is sufficient are also less likely to die from sudden cardiac death. Because essential unsaturated fats lower blood pressure, depriving the body of these fats results in a greater risk for heart disease than if they were consumed regularly.
Higher Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
Eating polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in vegetable-based oils and nuts, rather than saturated fats is shown to improve the body’s insulin resistance, reducing the chances of developing type-2 diabetes. The close relationship between type-2 diabetes and heart disease compounds the effects of a lack of unsaturated fats, making existing diabetics extra prone to coronary heart disease if unsaturated fat intake is insufficient. A lack of sufficient unsaturated fats increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes and complicates the health of those who already have diabetes.
Decreased Cognitive Function
According to Oregon State University, the high amounts of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, in the brain make unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid intake a crucial factor in brain development and preventing cognitive decline. Animal studies have shown that depriving the brain of DHA leads to learning deficiencies, and some long-term human studies have shown that regular omega-3 fatty acid intake could lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. A deprivation of unsaturated fats could therefore decrease cognitive function in the short term and increase the likelihood of developing serious cognitive impairment in the long term.
Increased Severity of Inflammatory Response
Unsaturated fatty acids are also a component of eicosanoids, which are chemical messengers that regulate immunological and inflammatory activity in the body. Low unsaturated fat intake disrupts the balance of fatty acids in cell membranes, resulting in the development of eicosanoids that trigger inflammatory responses and constrict blood vessels. This means inflammatory responses in individuals deprived of unsaturated fats will be more severe than those in individuals with adequate intake.