Have you heard of saturated and unsaturated fats, but don’t know the difference between them? Don’t worry, now we’ll answer all your questions! Although their names can be confusing, the truth is that there is little difference between them. Both play an essential role in the normal functioning of the body, but they behave very differently.
If you want to follow a healthy and balanced diet, it is essential that you begin to distinguish between these two types of fats, since some are harmful to your health and others, on the other hand, although they should not be abused, are necessary for good health. Therefore, in this article, we will explain what saturated and unsaturated fats are, which foods contain them, how they differ and how they influence our health.
What are saturated and unsaturated fats?
Before knowing the main differences between the two, it is important to define each of them. Saturated fats are a type of fatty acid that do not have double bonds between carbon atoms, are flexible and are solid at room temperature. The vast majority of these fats are obtained from animal foods, but they are also present in vegetable foods, such as palm oil.
Their main function is to provide the body with energy, to ensure that fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K are absorbed, and to maintain the appearance of skin and hair. However, one of the consequences of its consumption is an increase in LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) and, therefore, an increase in the likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. For this reason, it is recommended that its consumption should not exceed 10% of the daily calorie intake.
Preventing cardiovascular disease starts with a healthy and balanced diet, but you can also help take care of your heart with G7 OrgonoCol‘s capsules made from red rice yeast with Monascus purpureus strain extract, grape extract and Omega-3.
Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, do have one or more double bonds in their carbon chain. This type of fat is classified as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated depending on the number of double bonds in the fatty acid. They are usually liquid and are mostly of vegetable origin.
These fatty acids have great health benefits as they help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and thus promote better heart health.
Foods with saturated and unsaturated fats
To learn how to distinguish between saturated and unsaturated fats, let’s find out which foods contain these types of fatty acids:
Some foods that contain saturated fats are:
- Beef, lamb and pork.
- Processed meat, such as sausages or cured meats.
- Fatty cheeses.
- Processed foods.
- Chicken skin.
- Coconut and palm oil
On the other hand, those foods with unsaturated fats are:
- Olive oil
- Nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios…
- Fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel…
- Vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, corn oil…
- Seeds, such as linseed, pumpkin…
- Soybeans and other soy products, such as tofu or soy beverages.
Main differences between saturated and unsaturated fats
Although they may appear to be the same, the truth is that saturated and unsaturated fats have important differences, such as:
- Saturated fats have hydrogen-carbon bonds in their molecular structure, which makes them solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, have unsaturated carbon bonds and are therefore liquid at room temperature.
- The former are of animal origin and the latter are derived from plant foods or fatty fish.
- Consuming a lot of saturated fats can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, while unsaturated fats help to lower bad cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.
- Saturated fats tend to be stored in the body, unsaturated fats, when ingested in the right amounts, are not stored.
Undoubtedly, understanding how they differ is essential for making healthier choices and following a balanced diet to help us achieve our goals, as well as learning how to keep bad cholesterol at bay.
What are trans fats? 4 consequences of their consumption
In addition to the two varieties of fats we have already discussed, there are also trans fats, a type of unsaturated fat with double bonds in the transposition. These have been created by an industrial process called hydrogenation by which solid fats are obtained.
Thanks to this hydrogenation, more stable oils are obtained, which can therefore be handled more easily. Although it is an unsaturated fat, the way it is obtained makes it unhealthy, which is why the World Health Organisation advises that only 1% of total fats should be trans fats. The reason? The way they are obtained makes them behave as if they were saturated fats rather than unsaturated fats.
Some foods rich in trans fats are the following:
- Prepared or pre-cooked meals.
- Snacks such as potato chips.
- Industrial pastries
- Ice cream
4 consequences of eating trans fats
Taking in trans fats would be similar to having an excessive intake of saturated fats and can therefore lead to the following consequences:
- It raises LDL cholesterol but also lowers the amount of HDL cholesterol.
- Raises blood pressure.
- Increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Increased body weight as it is high in calories but not satiating.
One way to prevent fats from accumulating in our bodies in the form of adipose tissue and causing diseases such as diabetes, obesity or heart disease is to practise sport regularly. But it is also important to learn to distinguish between saturated and unsaturated fats, as they behave very differently in the body. It is important to eat healthy fats (in the right amounts) for the proper functioning of our body.