Saturated fats are types of chemical compounds that contain triglycerides that have no double bonds. In other words, they are fats that are completely filled with hydrogen atoms that deny two carbons the opportunity to form a double bond. With this complete hydrogenation, a collection of triglycerides can form together to form saturated fats.
A saturated fat can be anywhere from three carbons long (propionic acid) up to 36 carbons long (hexatriacontanoic acid). In between these two extremes, there are saturated fatty acids that are found in a long of regular foods that are consumed every day, such as:
Where Saturated Fats Are Found
- Butyric acid – 4 Carbons
- Lauric acid – 12 Carbons
- Coconut oil, Palm oil, Breast milk
- Myristic acid – 14 Carbons
- Cow’s milk and Dairy Products
- Palmitic acid – 16 Carbons
- Palm oil and Meat
- Stearic acid – 18 Carbons
- Meat and Cocoa Butter
Health Concerns About Saturated Fats
According to different studies conducted, saturated fats are known to cause health related issues such as heart attacks and strokes. Because of this, health agencies such as the Mayo Clinic have urged individuals to cut saturated fats from their diets and instead, replace them with monounsaturated fats. A saturated fat is dangerous to consume because it is much more difficult to break down. Because of its saturation, fewer chemical reactions can be done to break it apart. This results in the fat collecting rather than being used for energy.
Other studies have suggested that there is a direct connection between saturated fats and breast cancer, prostate cancer and small intestine cancer. This information is new in comparison to other studies conducted on saturated fats. It has resulted in more of a push to cut saturated fats out of people’s diets.
For those worried about cholesterol, studies have shown that diets high in saturated fats have shown an increase in LDL (low density lipoproteins). This type of cholesterol is bad for the body because it flows freely throughout the blood vessels and can result in build ups. It can form a plaque in arteries that is known as atherosclerosis. This causes the blood vessel to be more narrow which can result in stroke and heart attack.
What Fats are Good?
The best fats to consume are unsaturated fats because chemical reactions can brea them apart much easier. It is best to stay away from saturated fats and trans-fats which have double bonds between the two carbons. Because of this, it is typically healthier to use oils that come from peanuts, corn, soy and sunflowers to name a few.