The Effects Of Fatty Foods And Fats - Saturated, Unsaturated, Polyunsaturated And Trans Fats - On The Human Body

About Fats

Energy is available to us through what we eat and the foods that we eat are essentially rich in carbohydrates, protein or fats. Protein and carbohydrates provide about 4 calories per gram while fats provide 9 calories per gram.

Besides being a rich source of energy, some other functions that fats carry out in the body are:

  • They help in the absorption and transportation of the fat soluble vitamins - Vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • They also protect our vital organs from harmful chemicals as fats store these chemicals if they reach harmful levels in the blood. But only till the time they are removed from the body.
  • Fats also have a role to play in cell membrane and hormone formation.
  • They are necessary for milk production and the healthy growth of a child.
  • They are needed for to develop the brain and a healthy nervous system.
  • They protect the body from the vagaries of weather.

And more...

Fats can be solid or liquid at room temperatures. All fats are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents. Fats are composed of fatty acids and glycerol.

Some Foods Rich in Fats
Some Foods Rich in Fats

Types Of Fats


Broadly, fats can be classified into 2 types :

  • Saturated Fats
  • Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are further sub divided into 3 types :

  • Monounsaturated Fats
  • Polyunsaturated Fats
  • Trans Fats

Trans fats however are a product of hydrogenation of oils and are man made. For example, margarine contains trans fats.

Classification Of Fats

Fats are classified on the basis of :

  • The length of the fatty acids.
  • Their saturation levels (Carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms).

Classification On The Basis Of The Length Of The Fatty Acids


They have been classified into 4 types on this basis :

  • Short Chain Fatty Acids - With a chain length of 4 to 6 Carbon atoms.
  • Medium Chain Fatty Acids - With a chain length of 8 to 12 Carbon atoms.
  • Long Chain Fatty Acids - With a chain length of 14 to 18 Carbon atoms.
  • Very Long Chain Fatty Acids - With a chain length of 20 to 24 Carbon atoms.

Short Chain Fatty Acids


These fats are saturated and antimicrobial. They do not need bile salts for digestion and are directly absorbed to provide energy fast. Thus these fats are not stored and hence do not increase weight. They also benefit the immune system.

Medium Chain Fatty Acids


These are also microbial in action, absorbed directly to give energy fast and thus not stored as fat. They increase the metabolism rate and hence contribute to weight loss. They too benefit the immune system.
They are found in tropical oils like coconut oil etc and butter fat.

Long Chain Fatty Acids

These can be saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. They are difficult to digest and thus are more strenous on the liver and the digestive system. They need specific digestive enzymes for easier digestion. They are stored as fat and deposit on the arteries as cholesterol.

Most common seed oils and vegetable oils are long chain fatty acids.

For example :

  • Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid found in beef and mutton tallow.
  • Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil.
  • Palmitolic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid found in animal fats.
  • Gamma linoleic acid is a poly unsaturated fatty acid found mostly in plant oils like black currant oil, primrose oil etc.

Very Long Chain Fatty Acids


These fats are highly unstable as they are highly unsaturated. Some people can make these fatty acids from the essential fatty acids they consume but some cannot. Those whose body cannot have to obtain it from animal organs, egg yolks, butter and fish oils.

Some of these fatty acids are needed for production of prostaglandins(hormones) and some play a role in maintaining healthy nerves and a healthy nervous system.

Classification Of Fats On The Basis Of Saturation


On the basis of their degree of saturation with hydrogen atoms, fats are classified as:

Palm Oil Being Produced
Palm Oil Being Produced | Source

1. Saturated Fats



These fats have all the carbon atoms attached to the hydrogen atoms. For this reason, saturated fats remain very stable on heating and do not go rancid easily. They are mostly solid at normal temperatures. Animal fats are saturated and so are some tropical oils like coconut and palm oil. These oils can be used to cook at high temperatures due to their stability.

All oils and fats from animal or vegetable sources are a combination of saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated acids.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Rich in Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Rich in Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids | Source

2. Monounsaturated Fats

The monounsaturated fats are short of just 2 hydrogen atoms and have 1 double bond. Monounsaturated fatty acids are made by the body from saturated fatty acids as they are needed by the body.

They are liquid at normal temperature and are stable so they do not oxidise or turn rancid easily. Therefore they can be used in cooking but not at high temperatures or for frying. Olive oil is best eaten as a cold salad oil.

Our main consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids is in the form of oleic acid and this is found in olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, almond oil, peanut oil, cashews, almonds, pistachios, peanuts,peanut butter, avocado.

Interestingly, almost 50% of fat in beef is monounsaturated.

Margarine Is Rich in Poly Unsaturated Fats
Margarine Is Rich in Poly Unsaturated Fats | Source

3. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids


The polyunsaturated fatty acids are short of 4 or more hydrogen atoms. Thus there are 2 or more pairs of double bonds.

The linoleic acids, Omega-6 and Omega-3 are the two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that the body does not make and thus these have to come from our food. They remain liquid even under refrigeration. They are extremely unstable and turn rancid very fast. For this very reason, polyunsaturated oils should not be heated or used in cooking.

Examples of high polyunsaturated oils are corn oil, sunflower oil, soy oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, seafood and margarine.

Evidences indicate that excess consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids increase risk to cancer. Also, commercial oils containing a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids, have a much higher proportion of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids as opposed to the ideal 1:1 ratio between the two. This disparity in the ratio can contribute to arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

Why Polyunsaturated Fats Are Harmful?


We have been led to believe that polyunsaturated fats and oils are good while saturated fats are bad. This is incorrect as can be reasoned below.

It has been found that excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils is the cause of increase in heart disease and cancer, damage to organs like the liver, lungs etc, digestive problems, issues with the immunity system, lack of proper growth and increased weight gain.

The reason for this is not difficult to see. The polyunsaturated fats are unstable and oxidize readily when heated in the presence of moisture and oxygen as during the process of cooking or processing. Oxidation creates free radicals and they react with the cell membranes, red blood cells, tissues, blood vessels, organs etc, in fact with everything in the body giving rise to various diseases and conditions like palque development in the blood vessels, tumors in organs, cancer, heart disease, etc.

As most polyunsaturated fats are in the form of Omega 6 linoleic acid with a little Omega 3 linoleic acid this creates an excess of Omega 6 and thus an imbalance in the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. This increases risk to developing blood clots, high BP, inflammations, deficient immune response, cancer etc.

Most vegetable oils in the market are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids but are overly concentrated in the Omega-6 fatty acids upsetting the critical Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.

Deficiency of Omega-3 leads to conditions like asthma, heart diseases etc. Omega-3 is needed for many cell functions and hormones' production.

Saturated Fats-They Are Good

Coconut Oil - The Healthy Saturated Fat

Benefits Of Saturated Fats


  • Saturated fatty acids are needed for the formation of cell membranes as they provide the necessary rigidness.
  • They protect the liver from toxins and alcohol. They also lower the levels of Lipoprotein A, a substance whose increased levels in the blood makes on more at risk for heart disease and strokes.
  • They are needed to fully absorb calcium for optimum bone health. A minimum of 50% of the dietary fats should be saturated for this.
  • They improve the immune system.
  • Essential fatty acids can be fully utilized only in the presence of saturated fats.
  • The microbial activity of these short and medium chain fatty acids in the digestive tract protects us.
  • Medium chain fatty acids, those found in saturated fats, like stearic and palmitic acid are beneficial for the body in times of stress.

Research indicates that of the artery clogging fats, only 26% are saturated. The rest are unsaturated with more than 50% being polyunsaturated.

Coconut oil which is a tropical vegetable oil has a very high percentage of saturated fats - over 90%. Read my hub on Benefits of coconuts at the link provided below.

These Processed Foods Contain Trans Fat
These Processed Foods Contain Trans Fat

Trans Fats


Trans fat is a man made fat that is produced when vegetable oils are partially hydrogenated by passing hydrogen gas under pressure through the vegetable oil in the presence of a catalyst like nickel or platinum for some hours.

Hydrogenation makes the oils solid, improves the shelf life, the look, feel and texture of a product.However during this process the natural components are converted into many diiferent compounds. These are trans fatty acids or trans fat.

Trans fat are found in margarine, shortening, fried foods, bakery stuff etc.

Harmful Effects Of Trans Fat

  • They increase LDL or the bad cholesterol. and lower HDL or the good cholesterol.
  • They clog the arteries, cause diabetes and increase risk of heart disease.
  • They affect the immune system negatively.
  • They give rise to reproductive problems.
  • They cause obesity.

Tip To Find Out How Much Trans Fat Exists In a Food

If the product label has shortening or partial hydrogenated oil as listed as ingredients, you can assume it contains trans fat. The higher up this ingredient is in the list, more is the trans fat.

How To Find Out How Much Trans Fat Is In A Product

Make a sum total of all the different amounts of fat like saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated provided in the list on the product label. Then read the total fat content. The difference between the two is is mostly trans fat which is all the more correct if partially hydrogenated oil is listed in the top few ingredients.


Did you have preknowledge about the information provided in this hub?

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This researched information is for educational purposes only. You are advised to take the advice and opinion of your health practitioner or medical doctor before you embark on any new health regime.

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly

More by this Author


Comments 56 comments

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Wow! I think you covered everything related to fats. This is great information. I will have to read more about coconut oil as I had heard about the health benefits before. Great hub. Many votes!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Victoria thanks for reading. I have the coconut hub link put in here as well as it is so heavy on healthy saturated fats. Thanks for all the appreciation and votes.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Rajan, this is very comprehensive and clear. You have taken the mystery out of all those complex terminology and made it very user friendly with a lot of helpful advice and clarity. It is also useful for people who think all fat is bad fat I am glad your hub clears this misconception. Voted up and awesome, my friend.


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Rajan, you da man! Thanks once again for tapping into our collective conscience regarding the wisdom of eating nutritiously. I love your work!

Multiple votes, my man!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks for the votes and appreciation. Mahalo for reading, my friend. Have I used the right Hawaiian word?


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Docmo, well I'm glad it has come out simplified. That in essence was my aim foremost, coupled with info on an issue which has troubled most of us, including me.

Thanks for showering all the appreciation. I'm thankful for your visit and comments. Thanks for the follow. I'm following you too.


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Yes, you have, Rajan! I like that!

Dhanyavaad!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

You have presented an outstanding presentation on the effects of fats. Complete and interesting. The video is informative and helpful.A great job rajan and I will share this. Your hubs are fascinating!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks so much, Audrey. Thanks for sharing it too. I appreciate your taking a look in and flooding me with such nice compliments.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very useful information. I learn many things from this hub related with fat. Thanks for writing and share with us. Rated up and have a nice weekend!

Prasetio


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Prasetio, I'm glad you found this interesting as well as informational. Thanks for reading and appreciating. You too have a wonderful weekend,my friend.,


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Your hubs on food and health are always so comprehensive, Rajan. Fats used to be so difficult for our ancestors to get -- that's why we crave. Now, of course, there's too much of it everywhere. Voting this Up and Interesting.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Aurelio, our ancestors probably had not developed a taste for a lot of fatty foods that we are used to now. This is the cause of the present day ill. Sensible eating habits will still save the day for us.

Thanks forgiving the hub a read and votes.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Interesting and useful. Your explanation is clear and will help me make the right choice of products. Thank you. Voted up.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Vellur, thanks for reading and I'm glad you liked it and will find it it useful.

Thanks for voting it too.


CloudExplorer profile image

CloudExplorer 4 years ago from New York City

This hub is sensational at teaching the benefits of Fats and the health hazards as well, I learned a great deal here Rajan, and I will be surely sharing this hub with folks elsewhere.

Your knowledge on such a subject as fat is well defined & full of useful information, now I know more about what type of fats to be aware of, and those to stay away from like trans fats, which me and my wife have been doing for about 6 months now.

Thanks for sharing this hub with us, it is something that many people hardly know about or fully comprehend today. Especially many America people who love fast foods which are all mostly full of trans fats.

Voted up and out! Bookmarked, facebooked, twitted and pinned as well.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Mike, if only we forego our preference for some foods that are very unhealthy we would be doing a great benefit to our body by way of better health. This hub is just a small effort in that direction.

I'm glad you found it useful and informative. Thanks for all the votes and shares. Your comments and visit are much appreciated.


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas

Excellent source of information Rajan. This is impressive, comprehensive and very useful. Thank you very much for publishing this.

voted up and shared


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks for the compliments, Marisa. I'm glad you liked it. Great to see you. Thanks.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

Nice fat hub. We learned this back in high school but the allure of deep-fried fast food took over. It's nice to be reminded every now and then. :)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

I agree fat filled foods do taste better but that's because we have developed a taste to such foods. Changing foods habits cannot be overnight. But with perseverance one can do it.

Thanks jpcmc. Glad you stopped by.


donabhatt profile image

donabhatt 4 years ago from Hyderabad

A great deal of useful information presented together.......A very good presentation. Voted up.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

dona, thanks for liking and commenting. And the vote too.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

My wife is a huge help when it comes to eating healthier. Although I still manage to sneak some unhealthy foods down my throat from time to time.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

jpcmc, you are a lucky man! Were it not for the women in our life we would be lost.

Appreciate your read and comments.


Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

Rajan: You out did yourself on this hub! What you could have done better is nothing! I will share this on facebook, twitter, google+ and with hub followers!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks for the compliments Angela. It was really tough and took a lot of effort to make it easy for the common reader to understand the whole issue of good and bad fats.

Thanks for appreciating the effort and sharing it all over. I'm honored.


Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

I agree with Angela, this is a PHENOMENAL hub. Very well done Rajan. I even bookmarked it for future reference. Voted up, and shared!!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

DOM, you and Angela have literally floored me with your comments. An appreciation from a woman of medicine is well ...I'm very honored!

Thank you for reading, voting, bookmarking and sharing. Very much appreciated.


CrazedNovelist profile image

CrazedNovelist 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

Well executed article. Learned some things I did not know and relearned some things I already did know. :)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Crazed Novelist, Thanks for reading and appreciating. I'm glad you found things of interest.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

Thanks for a whole lot of great information in one handy place. I read some of it twice. You have it very well laid out, so I hope I can remember some of the essential points which will do me a lot of good. The coconut oil for sure -- I want to find some of that.

And congratulations on your hubs being read 100,000 times.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Pamela. Nice to know you found the information useful. Coconut oil especially the Extra virgin one is the healthiest oil. BTW, I have a hub on the health benefits of coconuts too.

Thank you for reading and appreciating it. Thanks also for the compliments. Readers such as you have a big hand in my accomplishments.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Great hub. When I was young I had two heart attacks. I have been through all the classes the hospital has on what I should eat for the good of my heart. I know much of it has changed through the years. Your hub is a great help and reminder on what fats are good and not so good for us. I don't always eat the way I should but I try my best....Voted up.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Moonlake, If one knows about what is good to eat and what isn't it becomes easier to follow it. Maybe armed with your knowledge you can do better. A little leeway once in a while shouldn't hurt much if taken in moderation.

Thanks for giving the hub a read and I appreciate your vote.


turtle Man 3 years ago

Crazy!

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