Trans Fat vs Saturated Fat
Lipids or fats are the fourth major group of molecules found in plant or animal cells (Nelson and Cox, 2005). These are water insoluble and are called hydrophobic. However, they can be extracted to organic solvents such as ether, chloroform and benzene. Lipids are formed from fatty acids and alcohols through the condensation bonds. Fatty acids generally have the formula of R.COOH, and R maybe a hydrogen or alkyl group such as CH2, C2H5 etc. Fatty acids may have an even number (14 to 22) of carbon atoms (Taylor, 2003). They may have double bonds between these carbon atoms and called unsaturated acids and sometimes they do not have double bond between carbon atoms and those are called unsaturated acids. Lipids are important in energy storing, in plant and animal body. Calories that can be obtained from 1g of lipids is higher than calories from 1g of carbohydrates.
What is Saturated Fat?
Saturated fats do not have double bonds between carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain. So, these molecules are fully reduced or saturated with hydrogen bonds. Biochemically these are highly flexible molecules, which can have numerous conformations having free rotations around the C-C bonds (Nelson and Cox, 2005). Examples of the saturated fatty acids are Lauric acid, Myristic acid, Palmitic acids etc.
Saturated fats can be seen naturally in animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy product and in plant oils such as coconut oil, palm oil. Saturated fats raise the low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood stream which carries cholesterol from the liver to rest of the body. So saturated fat intaking increases lot of health problems including cardiovascular diseases.
What is Trans Fat?
Trans fatty acids are more commonly called as Trans Fat. They are produced in the process called hydrogenation. In the presence of a catalyst and the hydrogen gas, liquid vegetable oil is heated to make the Trans Fat. The cis configuration of double bonds in fatty acids is isomerized into trans configuration by technological and microbiological techniques. So, trans fats are unsaturated trans isomer fatty acids. These are partially hydrogenated oil, and they are less likely to spoil, so it increases the shelf life.
Hydrogenation converts oil into solid state. When the food is processed, partially hydrogenated fats can be formed, especially in fast foods. Trans fat also can naturally occur in beef fat and dairy fat in ruminants in small quantity. High intake of Trans fat will increase the cholesterol level of blood stream. Thus, Trans fat can affect health state than saturated fats since saturated fats increase the LDL in blood while decreasing in High Density Lipoprotein (HDL).
What is the difference between Saturated and Trans fat?
- Saturated fats do not have double bonds between carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain, while Trans Fats are trans isomers of unsaturated fatty acids. They may be polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.
- Saturated fats can be naturally seen more commonly in animal products and in plant oils, whereas more commonly trans fats are produced artificially.
- Trans fat are less likely to spoil, so it increases the shelf life, but saturated fats do not have such characteristic.
- Saturated fats increase the LDL in the blood stream and increase the cholesterol level, but trans-fat can affect the health state than saturated fats since saturated fats increase the LDL in blood while decreasing in High Density Lipoprotein (HDL).
- Trans fats can be formed during the food processing like fast foods, while saturated fats cannot.