The Good Kind of Fat

Polyunsaturated fats shown to prevent periodontitis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Recent research from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health indicates polyunsaturated fats may help protect gums from disease.

Intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), was inversely associated with periodontitis, a common inflammatory disease that causes the gum tissue to separate from the teeth.

N-3 fatty acids have previously been associated with better outcomes in various chronic inflammatory diseases, giving researchers hope of treating periodontitis.

The study analyzed data from 9,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative survey in which researchers found dietary intake of the PUFAs, DHA and EPA were associated with a decrease in periodontitis cases.

About 8.2 percent of the study participants were afflicted with periodontitis at the time of the study. Among those who consumed the highest amount of dietary DHA, there was an approximate 20 percent reduction in periodontitis prevalence.

Foods that contain significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats include peanut butter, avocados, nuts and fatty fish such as salmon.

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Review Date: 
February 10, 2011
Last Updated:
February 10, 2011