Saturated fat is a type of fat in which the fatty acid chains have all single bonds, while Unsaturated fatty acid chains contain one or more double bonds. Unsaturated fats are defined by their chemical structure. Those that are visible as in oils, and spread like are liquid or soft at room temperature are classified as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Different types of unsaturated fatty acids may have different health benefits, but unsaturated fats are generally healthier than saturated fats.
How do saturated and unsaturated fats affect the body?
If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, it’s best to reduce your overall fat intake and swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats. There’s good evidence that replacing saturated fats with some unsaturated fats can help to lower your cholesterol level.
But if you don’t get enough fat in your diet, still you may notice symptoms such as dry rashes, hair loss, a weaker immune system, and issues related to vitamin deficiencies. So to help maintain good health, most of the fats you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fat is a type of dietary fat. It is one of the healthy fats, along with polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, but start to harden when chilled. Monounsaturated fats are also found in eggs and chicken.
Polyunsaturated fat is found in plant and animal foods, such as salmon, vegetable oils, and some nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats can be divided into 2 groups: omega-3s and omega-6 fats. Two polyunsaturated fatty acids are regarded as ‘essential’ because the body can’t make them – they must come from food. The 2 essential fatty acids are alpha linolenic acid (an omega 3 fat) and linoleic acid (an omega 6 fat). Polyunsaturated fats are used as building blocks in the membranes that surround all the cells of your body and contribute to the structure of the brain. Omega 3 fats, especially those found in seafood, are vital to help control inflammatory reactions in the body.
But all fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. What makes one fat different from another is the length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms connected to the carbon atoms. Seemingly slight differences in structure translate into crucial differences in form and function.
The worst type of dietary fat is the kind known as trans fat. It is a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid. Trans fats have no known health benefits and that there is no safe level of consumption.
Hydrogenation converts liquid vegetable oils into solid or semi-solid fats, such as those present in margarine. Changing the degree of saturation of the fat changes some important physical properties, such as the melting range, which is why liquid oils become semi-solid.