Classification Of Fats

The fats we get from food come in the form of triglycerides with three fatty acids attached to an alcohol glycerol. Fats are classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated based on the number of double bonds between the carbon atoms in the fatty acid chains.

In saturated fats, there are no double bonds between the carbon atoms. These kinds of fats are generally solid at room temperature, turning into a liquid when heated. They are found in meat, eggs, and dairy but also in coconut, cocoa butter, and palm oil.

Monosaturated fats have one set of carbon atoms that are linked to each other by a double bond. These kinds of fats tend to be solid when refrigerated and turn into a liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated oils include  olive, canola and peanut. The most importat monounsaturated fat present in Olive Oil is Oleic Acid included in omega 9 group.

Finally, polyunsaturated fats have more than one set of carbon atoms bonded to each other by a double bond. Primarily vegetable and fish oils polyunsaturated fats stay liquid at both room temperature and in the refrigerator. Oils in this category include corn, cottonseed, safflower, and sunflower.

 

In addition, there are essential fatty acids (EFAs) which are omega 6 or linoleic acid and omega 3, alpha linoleic acid. Our body cannot make these fats itself, and that is why they are called “essential”, so we must obtain them from an outside source. Approximately 20% of the fatty acids contained in Olive Oil is linoleic and 1% is alpha linoleic.

There are also artificially created saturated fats formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to normally unsaturated fats. The process makes them more solid and prolongs their shelf-life, which is desirable in many industries, such as margarine and baked goods productions. These fats are called “trans”. Artificial trans fats have been linked to several negative health effects, including cardiovascular disease, and it is believed they function in the body more like saturated than unsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats are known to be the healthiest. They are much more stable than other oils and are not prone to be damaged by heat. The Olive Oil is the one with the biggest amount of these kinds of fatty acids, then we can say that it is the healthiest fat.

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