Eating lots of fat will make you unhealthy, but so does everything!
This post will help you learn more about fat so that you know what and how much to eat!
What is fat?
Fats are molecules charectarized by being HYDROPHOBIC (water-fearing).
They are used by our body to store energy; 1 gram of fat has more than twice the energy held by proteins and carbs!
That’s why they aren’t inherently bad for you, but an essential type of your diet! They don’t only store energy, but are the major components of all your cellular membranes. That quite an important thing, right?!
There are 4 types of fat: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans fat.
What are the characteristics of the 4 fat types?
The figure below gives the simplest and most accurate characteristics of the different types of fat:
Keep in mind, that single bonds allow rotation while double bonds lock the structure into kink (cis) structures that cannot form neat stacks.
That’s why unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature.
Which fats are bad, and why?
Saturated fats are unhealthy since they can form neat packs easily, and hence can form plaques that can clog your arteries and interact with cholesterol making it accumulate in your blood stream!
And the worst of them all are trans unsaturated fat. They are manufactured by partial hydrogenation (adding some hydrogen atoms) of the double bonds of the unsaturated fats.
They have double bonds, can stack well, even better than the saturated ones, and also interact badly with cholesterol!
A 2% increase of trans fat in your diet increases your risk of heart disease by 23%! Amazingly, they were first thought to be a healthy alternative to saturated fats, and now awareness is raised on completely abandoning them!
Which fats are good, and why?
Polyunsaturated fats with more than one carbon-carbon double bond may be healthier than the monounsaturated fats that have a single double bond.
Several studies have even correlated them to a decrease in colon cancer risk and to having anti-inflammatory properties.
The fact that they’re liquid makes your body better able to break them down and to use their structures to build its own membranes or to store energy.
Yet remember, moderation is key!
Take Home Message
Make sure to keep this table as a reference of the different types of fat and where to find them!
Ranim Daw, MS in Cell & Molecular Biology
April 13, 2017