Why is Saturated Fat So Bad For Us?

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat, as many know and have been told for years, is the bad type of fat. It is the fat which has been told for us for years by the scientific community which clogs arteries, causes heart attacks, and leads to strokes. But why is this? Why don't the other types of fat, such as unsaturated fat, cause the same problems that saturated fat does? Why is saturated fat the worse?

In this article, we will go over why saturated fat is so bad and why our bodies have such a difficult time dealing with this fat?

What is Saturated Fat?

So to first start off, what is saturated fat? To understand saturated fat, we have to go over the technical definiton and the chemistry of a saturated fat. (If you were a person who hated and couldn't stand chemistry, I'll try to get over this and explain this as quickly and easily as possible).

Saturated fatty acids are fatty acids composed of a long chain of carbon atoms that contains the maximum possible number of hydrogen atoms- in other words, they are saturated with hydrogen. The molecule of fatty acid is composed entirely of single bonds (except in the carboxyl group). This makes the molecule saturated. An example of a fatty acid is shown below.

Butyric acid- Saturated Fatty Acid

These fatty acids have the highest melting point and are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats are stable molecules, and as such are very unlikely to change. This is the reason our bodies struggle so much with them. Being that they are so stable and are already saturated, our bodies cannot break them down or do anything constructive with them. Yes, our brains are high in saturated fats, but eating saturated fats will not improve brain function or slow its degeneration. Our bodies are simply not capable of utilizing dietary saturated fats. At best, the body stores dietary saturated fats as body fat and at worst, the fats accumulate along arterial walls, which can cause atherosclerosis, which is hardening of the harderies. This, in turn, can lead to stroke.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are not filled completely with hydrogen atoms. These fats have 1 or more double bonds in them (among the carbon atoms). Below is an example:

Mono and polyunsaturated fats

Hydrogen atoms are eliminated where double bonds are formed. The body adds hydrogen, a process that saturates the fat. In other words, the unsaturated fat molecule is malleable and is subject to change within the body. The body can work with it and utilize it. It then integrates these self-manufactured saturated fats into our bodily structure as needed. This is why unsaturated fats are better for our bodies.

How You Can Lower the Amount of Saturated Fat That You Eat

Saturated fat is found most heavily and almost exclusively in animal and animal products. This means it is found in all types of meat, including beef, chicken, pork, and fish. It is also found in animal products, including milk, cheese, and eggs.

Therefore, if you want to decrease the amount of saturated diet, you can either decrease the amount of animal and animal products which you eat or you can decide to completely give it up and become a vegan. (This obviously would be the best option but any steps that you can take to decrease slowly is also great.)

S/P Ratio- Nutritionists have recommended a healthy ratio of saturated to polyunsaturated fats for the last fifty years of 20/80 (20% saturated to 80% polyunsaturated). This means that for best health, only 20% of the total fat we eat should be saturated fat and no higher. This is an accepted standard in the world of nutrition. The S/P ratio for most plants is ideal: 20/80, or extremely close. The proportion of saturated to polyunsaturated fatty acids in most animal foods is 80/20, the exact opposite of the ratio we require. So ideally, this shows we should be consuming mostly plant matter, if we want to eat an S/P that is near the 20/80 mark, and eat as little animal product foods. The structure of the fat we consume very profoundly affects bodily function. As the number of the S/P ratio skews toward saturated fats in the diet, we see increases in atherosclerosis and other forms of heart disease, which is the number one killer in the westernized world. It is very difficult (near impossible) to achieve a healthy S/P ratio while including products of animal origin in our diets.

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