Fat is an essential source of energy and fatty acids. It builds nerve sheaths and cell membranes and is necessary for muscle movement, blood clotting, reducing inflammation. However, not all fats are created equal. Eating "bad" fats can cause heart problems, for example. Many studies link saturated fat to cholesterol levels, though it is important to remember that cholesterol in itself is not good or bad. Understanding saturated fats can help people make informed and healthful changes to their diets.
All fats consist of a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. The length of the chain and number of hydrogen atoms defines the types of fat and whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Saturated fats do not have double bonds between the individual carbon atoms. The fat is ‘saturated’ with hydrogen molecules, and these fats are solid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats only have one carbon-to-carbon double bond. This means they have fewer hydrogen atoms than saturated fats, a structure that keeps them liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds between carbon atoms.
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