Saturated vs Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are composed of unbranched carbon chains with a carboxyl group at one end. They comprise of various components in the body including phospholipids, triglycerides, diglycerides, monoglyceride, and sterol esters. Most common fatty acids have the chain length of 16 to 18 number of carbons. Based on the chemical structure of the fatty acid chain, there are two types of fatty acids present in the body; namely, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Simple fats are mainly composed of glyceride and fatty acids. The most common simple fat is the triglyceride, made up of glyceride and three fatty acids.
What are Saturated Fatty Acids?
Saturated fatty acids consist of unbranched carbon chains with no double bonds in it. These fatty acids constitute to form saturated fats. The saturated fats are abundant in meats, animal fat, whole milk, butter, coconut oil, and palm oils. These fats are present as solid at room temperature. Saturated fats increase the blood cholesterol levels, hence raise the risks associated with LDL cholesterol.
What are Unsaturated Fatty Acids?
Unsaturated fatty acids have carbon chains with one or more C=C bonds. These fatty acids constitute to form unsaturated fats. The main sources of unsaturated fats are mostly found in plants. There are two types of fatty acids based on their number of C=C bonds; namely (a) monounsaturated fatty acids, which contain only one C=C double bond along the fatty acid chain and are found in canola, peanut, olive, avocado and cashews, and (b) polyunsaturated fatty acids, which contain two or more C=C double bonds and are found in fish, almonds and pecans. Unsaturated fatty acids are called healthy fatty acids as they decrease the LDL cholesterol levels, thus reduce the risk associated with bad cholesterol.
What is the difference between Saturated and Unsaturated Fatty Acids?
• Saturated fatty acids form saturated fats, while unsaturated fatty acids form unsaturated fats.
• Saturated fatty acids have no double C=C double bonds in the fatty acid chain, and thus the saturated fatty acids have the maximum number of hydrogen atoms. However,unsaturated fatty acids have one or more points of unsaturation, where hydrogen atoms are missing in the chain.
• The sources of saturated fatty acids are animal fat, coconut oil, palm oil, whereas those of unsaturated fatty acids are most vegetable oils and fish oil.
• Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fatty acids are liquids at room temperature.
• The shelf life of saturated fatty acids much higher than that of unsaturated fatty acids.
• Unlike the unsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids are soluble in vitamins.
• Saturated fats increase the serum cholesterol, whereas unsaturated fats decrease the serum total and LDL cholesterol.