The key difference between saturated and unsaturated fats is that saturated fats do not have double bonds between fatty acid chains while unsaturated fats have double bonds in the fatty acid chains.
Fat or lipid is an important macromolecule which contains a central glycerol molecule and three fatty acid chains linked together. There are two types of fats based on the bonds between the molecules of fatty acid chains; they are saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Saturated Fats
3. What are Unsaturated Fats
4. Similarities Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
5. Side by Side Comparison – Saturated vs Unsaturated Fats in Tabular Form
What are Saturated Fats?
Saturated fats are a type of fats that do not have double bonds between the molecules of fatty acid chains. All bonds are single bonds in these fats. Most animal-based food contains saturated fats. They are solid at room temperature and have a high melting point compared to unsaturated fats.
In addition, saturated fats are also considered as unhealthy fats since they can increase the level of cholesterol in the blood and can block the arteries, causing heart attacks and strokes. Butyric acid, palmitic acid, lauric acid, myristic acid are some examples of saturated fatty acids.
What are Unsaturated Fats?
Unsaturated fats are a type of fats that have double bonds between C atoms of the fatty acid chains. They remain as liquids at room temperature. Plant foods and fish are rich in them. They also have a low melting point. Furthermore, unsaturated fats do not raise the level of cholesterol in our blood or cause risk of cardiovascular disease. Hence, they serve as beneficial fats.
However, unsaturated fats contain do not contain a high energy content. Thus, they provide low calories. Palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, myristoleic acid, linoleic acid, and arachidonic acid are few examples of them.
What are the Similarities Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats?
- Saturated and unsaturated fats contain glycerol and fatty acids.
- Both fats present in our diets.
- Both types of fats provide energy.
What is the Difference Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats?
Saturated vs Unsaturated Fats
|Saturated Fats are a type of fats that have predominantly single bonds between molecules in the fatty acid chain||Unsaturated Fats are a type of fats that have double bonds between molecules of the fatty acid chain.|
|Solids at room temperature||Liquids at room temperature|
|Do not have double bonds between molecules||Have double bonds between molecules|
|Can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke||Beneficial for the health|
|Mainly found in animal foods such as meat and dairy product||Found in plant foods (vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds) and fish|
|May contain a high level of cholesterol||Do not contain cholesterol|
|Increase in Cholesterol|
|Increase the cholesterol level in blood||Do not increase cholesterol level in blood|
|Have a comparatively higher melting point||Have a comparatively lower melting point|
|Have somewhat high energy||Have somewhat less energy|
|Butyric acid, palmitic acid, lauric acid, myristic acid||Palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, myristoleic acid, linoleic acid, and arachidonic acid|
Summary – Saturated vs Unsaturated Fats
Overall, the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats lies in the absence and presence of the double bonds between the C atoms of fatty acid chains. Since saturated fats can increase the cholesterol level of the blood and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, they are mainly categorized as unhealthy fats. Unsaturated fats are beneficial fats found in plant-based foods and fish.
1. Sheehan, Jan. “How to Distinguish Between Saturated & Unsaturated Fats.” Healthy Eating | SF Gate, 21 Nov. 2017, Available here.
2. “Unsaturated Fat.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Apr. 2018, Available here.