Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
Our metabolic system provides us with the energy to sustain the proper functioning of the body. This energy comes from the food we consume. Three major macronutrients contribute to the energy in the body- carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Fat is a vital nutrient that keeps us healthy and protects our tissues. Our daily diet consists of two types of fats – saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats have a chemical nature in which the carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms and do not contain double bonds between carbon atoms. Saturated fats are classically solid at room temperature.
Unsaturated fats have a chemical nature that contains one or more double or triple bonds between the carbon atoms. These fats are liquid at room temperature in oil form. They also occur in solid foods. These are further divided into monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Consisting of one carbon-to-carbon double bond, monounsaturated fats can aid in controlling blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as lowering your cholesterol levels to decrease your risk of cardiovascular ailments. Doctors recommend replacing as many saturated fats as possible with monounsaturated fats, which can be found in foods like peanut oil, canola oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Containing two or more double bonds in their chemical structures, polyunsaturated fats are important to regular body functions such as covering nerves, building cell membranes, blood clotting, inflammation, and muscle movement — but your body cannot make these fats itself, so it is recommended that you obtain your polyunsaturated fats from your diet. In addition to helping your body perform vital functions, these types of unsaturated fats lower harmful triglycerides, reduce blood pressure and increase the right kind of cholesterol. They also prevent heart conditions and lessen the effect of other health conditions like dementia and rheumatoid arthritis. You can find polyunsaturated fats in foods like fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, chia, and hemp seeds and walnut oil.
Trans fat can be made from vegetable oils through a process called hydrogenation. Trans fat is naturally found in small amounts in some animal products such as meat, whole milk, and milk products. Check the food label to find out if trans-fat is in your food choices. Trans fat can often be found in many cakes, cookies, crackers, icings, kinds of margarine, and microwave popcorn.
Saturated Vs Unsaturated Fats
Both saturated and unsaturated fats are needed for the body. Most dietary recommendations advise that a higher proportion of fat should come from unsaturated fats. They promote good cholesterol. Overconsumption of saturated fats can increase the bad cholesterol in the body which can be a risk for cardiovascular diseases. High amounts of saturated fats can increase LDL. Saturated fats would clog arteries that might increase the risk of cardiac disease, while unsaturated fats help to keep the proper body functioning.
The difference between saturated and unsaturated fat lies in the number of double bonds in the fatty acid chain. Saturated fats lack double bonds between the individual carbon atoms, while in unsaturated fats there is at least one double bond in the fatty acid chain. Saturated and unsaturated fats vary greatly in their properties. Let us explore more in detail about the differences between these two types of fat taking account of their importance, the effect on our body, and their main sources.
Saturated And Unsaturated Fats Examples
Saturated fats can be found in a variety of foods, including:
Animal meat including beef, poultry, pork
Certain plant oils such as palm kernel or coconut oil
Dairy products including cheese, butter, and milk
Processed meats including bologna, sausages, hot dogs, and bacon
Pre-packaged snacks including crackers, chips, cookies, and pastries
Foods Containing Unsaturated Fats include:
Plant oils such as canola, vegetable, or plant oil
Certain fish like salmon, tuna, and anchovy, which contain omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids
1. Which is healthier saturated and unsaturated fats?
Unsaturated fats are considered to be the 'healthier' fats and they're vital to be included as part of a healthy diet in the body. These fats aid in reducing the risk of high blood cholesterol levels and they also have several other benefits in wellbeing when they substitute the saturated fats in the diet.
2. Is butter unsaturated fat?
Butter is known to contain a good quantity of saturated fat, which is a type of fat that is usually found in foods such as meat and dairy products. In fact, statistics show that about 63% of the fat in butter is saturated fat, while 26% is monounsaturated fat and 4% is polyunsaturated fat.