Saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, demystified

Posted on November 19, 2013
by Tim Franks

Here is a good news. Fat is good for your health. Surprised!!!? Well yes, if you consume the right type of fat you may not suffer from heart attacks, strokes or other weight related diseases. Interestingly, fats can be health inducing substances to your body.

As I go further in the article I will provide you with short explanations on the chemistry of fats. Rather than forcing your thoughts into confusion, I will to explain it in an simple yet informative way. After reading through the article, you will be enlightened about the false rumors that you have been listening from the advertisers to sell their products.

What are saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats?

Fats are built from the molecular substances called fatty acids. When these units are observed at a molecular level, you will find them as a chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms. In every molecule, carbon atoms host spaces for four incoming attachments. When all the spaces of these atoms are filled with the other atoms it forms a saturated fat. If one of the spaces is left empty, it turns out be an unsaturated fat or mono saturated fat. However, If more than one spaces are left empty without the hydrogen atom bonding then they are called as polyunsaturated fats or many unsaturated fats. The polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats are chemically unstable whereas saturated fats exist in a stable state.

The saturated fats are mostly obtained from the plants. The vegetable oils like palm oil, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil are the forms of saturated oils which have a solid texture. In addition, saturated fats can also be found in animal products such as lard, butter, chicken, and mutton.

The unsaturated fat on the other side are always seen in liquid state at the room temperature. These substances even when kept inside the refrigerator, do not freeze into solids. Many users choose this as a best option for cooking oil as it stays in the liquid state and is easy to use.

The saturated fats consumed in excess can be harmful to the health. It is recommended to consume saturated fats not more than 10% of the total calories taken per day. Unsaturated fats are considered more healthy than the saturated fats because of the lower cholesterol and antioxidant qualities compared to the saturated fats. So is there any limit on the consumption of the unsaturated fats? Well, the answer is yes, A person per day should consume no more than 30% of total calories. (Reference:

The saturated fats are associated with the health risks related cardiovascular system. Consuming excessive saturated fats increases the content of LDL ( Low Density Lipoproteins) and VLDLs (Very Low Density Lipoproteins) and can become a cause of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. The structure of the fat is long lasting and do not break down quickly. It has a higher melting point.

Unsaturated fats are mostly considered as good fats if you are observing the cholesterol levels. And also these fats are content rich in antioxidants. Unsaturated fats are abundant in HDL (High density Lipoprotein) which naturally decreases the LDL from the body and helps to gain weight loss. The sources of HDL are Omega 3 fatty acids, fish, onions, and fiber rich grains. The type of fat is commonly found in canola oil, soybean oil, Avocado, flax, sunflower oil and red meats. This fat type exhibits the tendency to spoil quickly and has a lower melting point. It is highly rancid and exists in a liquid state.

Polyunsaturated fat (PUFAs) is mostly found in the plant foods and oils. The evidences on these fats show that it improves the blood cholesterol, decreases the heart risks, and protects the heart against irregular heartbeats. The drawback of the polyunsaturated fats is it’s oxidative nature. It gets spoiled within weeks even when stored in the refrigerator. The sources of polyunsaturated fats are sesame, olive and canola oils.

At this point you might be driven in thoughts that the saturated fat is all bad and doesn’t benefit the body. But you are steering wrong. Take a look, and understand why is it?

The fat we consume every day is mainly saturated. It comes from the fat of animals . This fat acts as a cushion against the oxidation process that happens in our body. It reduces the damages caused to the cells during the oxidation process. Unsaturated fat on the other hand has antioxidant qualities through which it directly mops up on the oxidation process that happens in the body. As a result oxidation process is regulated to the minimal levels.

But when it comes to polyunsaturated fats these are highly reactive with the oxygen because of their instability. And it has a greater risk of damaging the body cells. The increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats will trigger the oxidation in a way that can’t be subsidized by the available antioxidants in the body. In this case, it can cause health problems like diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease, allergies, and muscular degeneration.

Both saturated and unsaturated fats are critical in stabilizing our body. We need to consume them in adequate quantities to keep a balance in the body. The advice to substitute the intake of animal fats with the seed oils is completely wrong. The approach realistically endangers your health. So without any hesitation have your favorite cream, butter, nuts, and meat in dietary quantities to keep your body in balance.


Watch out for manufacturers who heat the unsaturated oil by compressing through the hydrogen to convert it into saturated oil. These oils are also called as hydrogenated oils. This oil is not good for health as it involves health risks associated with the heart and can be a reason for outburst of any kind of cancer disease. The processed foods are mainly made with hydrogenated oils and are not healthy to the body. By now you must be clear about the question of why these foods last longer? The natural food must not remain edible for a longer time. So eating this type of foods increases the trans fat of your body. So do not bargain keeping apart from your health.


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