Saturated And Unsaturated Fatty Acids - What Are They?

Saturated And Unsaturated Fatty Acids - What Are They?

by Prince Eric

Unless you live the life of a hermit or are very diet conscious, the probabilities are we will be ingesting a good deal of saturated and unsaturated fatty acid. Conventional wisdom has it that as far as food intake goes, unsaturated fatty acids are far better than saturated fatty acids. So what are saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and which food consists of saturated fat and which consists of the unsaturated? To live a healthy life we will need to learn the answers to these simple concerns.

Saturated Fat Or Fatty Acid

Initially let us take a look at saturated fat. Saturated fatty acid is a kind of fat that contains triglycerides which contain only saturated fatty acids. These fatty acids have no double bonds between the individual carbon atoms of the fatty acid chain. This leads to the chain of carbon atoms to develop into fully saturated with hydrogen atoms. Different saturated fatty acids can have distinctive number of carbon atoms, varying from 3 up to 36. Fatty acids usually have a variety of proportions of saturated and unsaturated fat. Foods that are high in saturated fat may be from animal or vegetable fats. Foods that have a high proportion of saturated fat from animal fats are:

- cream, -butter, -cheese, -ghee, -suet and -lard -as well as fatty meats.

Those Vegetable fats which have high content of saturated fats are:

-coconut oil, -palm kernel oil, -chocolate and so on.

Unsaturated Fat Or Fatty Acid

Unsaturated fat or fatty acid has no less than one double bond within the fatty acid chain. It is called monounsaturated if it consists of a single double bond and polyunsaturated if it consists of more than one double bond. The formation of double bonds eliminates the hydrogen atoms. For that reason, saturated fatty acids, which contain no double bonds has the maximum quantity of hydrogen atoms boned to the carbon. In metabolism, unsaturated fat molecules contain lesser calories than a comparable amount of saturated fat. Having said that, unsaturated fats are prone to rancidity and may trigger food poisoning. Antioxidants can protect unsaturated fat from becoming rancid. Examples of foods containing unsaturated fats are:

- avocado, -nuts and vegetable oils including canola and olive oils. -Meat products contain a mixture of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

Saturated Vs. Unsaturated Fats - Health Comparison

Now that we know what saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are, we can compare them from the wellness angle. Analysis has shown that by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fatty acids in our diets, assists in lowering cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels in blood. Having said that it is actually pertinent to note that trans-unsaturated fat really should be avoided as it enables fat molecules to form plaque deposits in our blood vessels. Although unsaturated fatty acid is thought of to be safer it must not be consumed in unlimited amounts. The US FDA has recommended that a maximum of 67 grams of unsaturated fat is the upper limit in a 2000 calorie diet. This is roughly about 30% on the daily intake of calories. The saturated fat intake has to be limited to 10% of day-to-day calorie intake and in high risk groups it is actually restricted to 7%.

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