Saturated and Unsaturated Fats: Whats the Difference?

Nurture Kids Pediatrics

Saturated and Unsaturated Fats: Whats the Difference?

As a nation, we have become terrified of the word “fat”, especially if it relates to food. Next time you are in your local grocery store, take a look at all of the products labeled “fat-free” or “low-fat”. If we have all of these foods at our fingertips without harmful fats in them why are we still struggling with obesity? Many people have rid fat completely from their diets only to add empty calories, such as carbohydrates in their diets. As a result, they are still failing to lose weight.

Facts about fat

Fat intake should be 30% of a person’s diet. But, not all fats are created equal! There are two types of fat: animal fat and vegetable fat. The difference is saturated fat is present in animal sources such as meats and unsaturated fats are present in vegetable sources. The difference is the way the atom is bonded. An unsaturated fat consists of double bonds in between the carbon atom and saturated fats do not have double bonds. These atoms hold the key as to why these two types of fats behave differently in our bodies.

What is a trans fat and why is it so bad for us?

This type of fat is found most often in commercial cooking. The process starts with a chemically processed vegetable oil that is hydrogenated, creating a saturated fat. It becomes a trans fat and no longer holds the formation of unsaturated vegetable oil.

Why would we take a perfectly good vegetable oil and alter it?

Hydrogenated oils containing trans fats are more stable and resist spoilage. Many vegetable oils, including olive oil, burns at a very low temperature. The restaurant industry uses commercial fryers that heat at very high temperatures. Hydroganted oils are more durable and able to withstand the high temperatures. The restaurant industry uses these harmful oils because they are cheaper and easier to work with.

The American Heart Association suggests using unhydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils not only increase bad cholesterol but decrease good cholesterol. The result is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, among other problems. You don’t have to avoid restaurants or foods that contain saturated fats all together. Treat yourself once in awhile; the importance is Quality, Quantity and Timing!


Learn more about the science behind health in my new book!

In my book, The Step Up Diet, I provide a step-by-step plan to help families experience what it is like to eat the right way. The Step Up Diet teaches the body and the brain to recognize what types of food are healthy to eat, and to establish a healthy eating schedule. By focusing on one step—one segment of the day—at a time, the ultimate goal becomes less overwhelming and more manageable, helping us stay on target with our goals of eating healthier in 2013.