Fats! What are they? Discover different types of fat you never knew existed


What is fat?
Fat is one of the six classes of foods. It is also known as lipids alongside oil. The term fat when used in culinary and by health professionals covers bother fat and oil.
What is the difference between fat and oil?
Fat is in solid form and all fats are gotten from animal sources with exception of hydrogenated fats. Examples are butter (from cow milk) and fatty cuts of meat. Fats contain carbon to carbon single bond.
Oil is a liquid form of fat which is generally sourced from plants. Examples are soy bean oil, sunflower oil and cotton seed oil etc. Oils consist of carbon to carbon double and triple bonds.
Types of fats
There are different types of fats
1. Saturated fats
2. Hydrogenated fats
3. Trans fats
4.. Unsaturated fats
1. Saturated fats
These are fats which are in solid form and are very stable. That is, they can not undergo rancidity (oxidation of fat which changes it taste and colour). This is because the bond between the carbon atoms in the structure of the fat is  a single bond and is a very strong bond.
Health effects of saturated fat
1. It increases insulin resistance, promotes the formation of type 2 Diabetes
2. It increases the level of bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein cholesterol -LDLP)
3. It leads to high rate of weight gain.
4. It can lead to cardiovascular diseases

2. Hydrogenated fats
These are fats formed by breaking down the carbon to carbon double and triple bonds present in oil to form fats with single bonds. The procedure for hydrogenating oil involves bubbling hydrogen gas through the oil in the presence of nickel catalyst. Example of hydrogenated fat is margarine.
Why oils are hydrogenated
Oil are hydrogenated to produce cheaper substitute for expensive butter.
Effects of hydrogenated fats on health
1. Clogs the arterial walls leading to arteriosclerosis
2. Increased weight gain
3. Raises bad cholesterol
4. Causes insulin resistance
3. Trans fats
These are fats formed as a result of modification of fat structure through high temperature to improve it taste and satisfy consumers cravings. It is formed usually during high temperature frying and baking.
Trans fats are seen in  baked and fried foods.
Health implications of trans fats
Studies showed that trans fats are carcinogenic in nature. Thus the consumption of food sources should be with caution.
4. Unsaturated fats
These are fats which are mainly in liquid form.  They are characterized by double and triple bonds. They are usually of plant origin. Examples are peanuts oil, corn oil, soy bean oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and  sunflower oil.
Unsaturated fats are divided into two
1. Polyunsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats contain more than one double and triple bonds. They are found in seeds, nut, cod liver oil and fish.
Polyunsaturated fats are grouped into Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
2. Monounsaturated fats
These are characterized by one double bond. They are seen in corn oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil among others.
Health benefits of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats help to promote good retinal health
Polyunsaturated fats promotes the health of the brain.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats promote weight loss
They improve insulin sensitivity
Both type of oil  good for a healthy heart.
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