Table 4—

Composition of some common dietary fatty acids and typical food sources

Fatty acid (common name)Chemical notationAmount found in U.S. diet (g/day)
Food sources
MenWomen
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
 Linoleic acids18:2, n-614.710.4Vegetable oil, nuts, seeds
 α-linolenic acid18:3, n-31.61.1Flaxseed oil (linseed oil), canola oil, soybean oil, walnuts
 Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)*20:5, n-3 0.1 (based on EPA and DHA together)
Fish and fish oil, plankton
 Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)*22:6, n-3Fish and fish oil, oceanic algae, plankton
Monounsaturated fatty acids
 Oleic acid18:1, n-9 (cis form)31.020.8Olive oil, soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, almonds, cashews, pecans, avocado, peanuts, peanut butter
 Elaidic acid18:1 n-9 (trans form)4.21.8Solid margarines, shortenings, salad dressing, processed food containing partially hydrogenated oil
Saturated fatty acids
 Lauric acid12:00.90.7Meats, poultry, butterfat in butter, nonskim milk or yogurt, cheese, ice cream, egg yolks
 Myristic acid14:02.71.9Dairy products, food made with coconut oil
 Palmitic acid16:01.711.6Dairy products, meat, processed grain products
 Stearic acid18:08.15.4Dairy products, meat, processed grain products, chocolate
  • *

    * Both DHA and EPA can be synthesized from α-linolenic acid. Adapted from Sega-Isaacson CJ, Carello E, Wylie-Rosett J: Dietary fats and diabetes mellitus. Is there a food fat? Current Diabetes Reports 1:161–169, 2001