Unsaturated fats are easier to metabolise due to the double-bond present in its structure, and this means that the hydrocarbon is able to undergo a series of reactions, one of which being the “addition” reaction. In order for a saturated fat to be metabolised, the body has to form an unsaturated fat, and from then break it down through the reactions of the double bond that is contained in the unsaturated fat. Saturated fat is seen as a “bad” fat because more energy is needed to break it down, whereas in unsaturated fats, much less energy is used to undergo the process of metabolism.
Saturated fats are usually derived from sources of meat of dairy. A saturated fat is any lipid which contains no carbon-carbon double bonds. Since the fatty acids in these triglycerides contain the maximum possible amount of hydrogens, due to having only carbon-carbon single bonds, they are called saturated fats, because they are literally “saturated” with hydrogen molecules. (MIMS, 2005) Because of this, the hydrocarbons chains in these fats are straight-chained, and are able to pack closely together and thus be a solid state at room temperature, and are unable to undergo an “addition reaction.” Saturated fats tend to be greasy or waxy solids, most often occurring in animals and plant tissues, SUCH AS. Saturated fats are a dominant source of energy in the human body, and are most commonly found in meat and dairy products alike. Past research has suggested that an over-consumption of saturated fats play a major role in heart disease; however it is now understood that saturated fats, within certain parameters, can be considered as a “good” fat. As well as aiding the body in the making of calcium for stronger bones, saturated fats protect the live from alcohol and other toxins, enhance the immune system, and are needed in the proper digestion of other essential fatty acids. (WiseGEEK, 2011)
Monounsaturated fatty acids are mainly derived from plants and nuts such as olives, peanuts, sunflowers and sesame in oil form. They are extremely beneficial and maintenance of a healthy body when eaten in moderation. They are able to help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, and also lower the individual’s risk of heart disease and stroke. (EasyDietForLife, 2009) Monounsaturated fatty acids contain one double bond in its structure, hence the name “unsaturated” – the carbon atoms are not fully saturated with hydrogens. As the double bond occurs at only one time in the structure of the fatty acid, it is called “mono.” Because they contain a double bond, they are unable to pack together into a solid lattice as unsaturated fats can, and therefore when they are attached to a triester of glycerol, they retain their oil form, but form a solid when chilled. As they contain a double they are able to undergo reactions that the unsaturated compound cannot. Monounsaturated fatty acids are important in the health of the human body, and research has shown that monounsaturated fat is able to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as a myriad of other benefits. They contain high levels of vitamin E, an important antioxidant in the body, and have been shown to aid in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. (AHA, 2010)
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are commonly found in plant based foods and oils such as corn, soy, sunflower and safflower, to name but a few. They feature two or more carbon-carbon double or triple bonds, which is where the name “poly” is derived from. Like monounsaturated fats, they are the “healthier” alternative to other types of fat or oil. (AHA, 2010) There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats, being omega-3 and omega-6, which are essential fatty acids, meaning the body is unable to manufacture them. Like monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fat is unable to form a solid lattice due to its many double and triple bonds, however it differ in that poly is unable to form as a solid when chilled, and this is because of the many bonds in its structure. Polyunsaturated fats are capable of lowering blood cholesterol levels, and studies have shown that both mono and polyunsaturated fats help decrease inflammation, the risk of heart disease, blood clotting, and help to regulate blood pressure. A particular type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3, are especially beneficial to maintain a healthy heart, decrease the risk of coronary and artery diseases, and aid to lower blood pressure levels. (Dolson, 2008)
Trans fats are created in a process called hydrogenation, and is used by food manufacturers to improve the stability of vegetable oils and to convert liquid oils into the solid fats needed to attain the correct consistency in foods, such as cakes and pastries. They are found in products such as deep-friend fast foods, take-aways, manufactured biscuits, cakes and pies, as mentioned above. (NSW Food Authority, 2010) They are also called “partially hydrogenated oils,” and as they feature a carbon-carbon double bond, trans fats may be mono or polyunsaturated, but never saturated. In trans fats, the chains of WHAT are on opposite sides of the occurring double bond, and as a result the chain is fixed in an approximately straight shape. Consequently, trans fats are able to form a solid lattice, and are solids at room temperature. The process of hydrogenation adds hydrogen molecules to the fats that contain double or triple bonds, therefore eliminating the carbon-carbon double bonds and form partially or completely saturated fats. (AHA, 2010) Unlike omega-3 and 6, trans fats are not essential fatty acids, and the consumption of this type of fat can increase the risk of coronary heart diseases. It does this by raising the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering the levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
Disorders associated with dietary fats and oils
There are numerous diseases and disorders which are associated with dietary fats and oils, one of which being diabetes mellitus, more commonly known as diabetes. The condition refers to the metabolic disease in which the inflicted individual has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because the cells do not respond to the insulin that is secreted. (Wikipedia, 2011) It is a chronic condition and thus far cannot be cured, but only contained with appropriate medications. Insulin is the primary hormone that regulates the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream into muscle and fats cells. Consequently, a deficiency or deformity of insulin and its receptors plays a vital role in the affliction of diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes, named type one and type two. Type one diabetes is caused by inheritance, and can be trigged by certain infections of the organs. Research suggests that there is a genetic deformity which heightens the vulnerability of type one diabetes in an individual, particularly the “HLA genotypes.” (Wikipedia, 2011) Type two diabetes is contracted and caused genetics, and lifestyle factors including the over-consumption of unsaturated and trans fats, as well as smoking and lack of exercise. As of the year 2000, a minimum of 171 million individuals suffer from diabetes, with type two being the most common, affecting 90% to 95% of America’s diabetes population, suggesting that certain changes in lifestyle factors could significantly decrease occurrence of this metabolic disease.
Part B: Critical evaluation of one article of your choice
The Truth about Fats and Oils – Lynn Keiley
In this article, the writer explains the black and white facts about the various types of fats and oils that are consumed by an individual on a daily basis. Keiley differentiates the “good” fat from the “bad,” and highlights which types have been shown and are associated with health problems. The article details the four main types of fats and oils, being saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and corrects the reader on the assumptions made by society on trans and saturated fats.
Some of the concepts Keiley informs the reader on are; the fact that saturated fats raise both good and bad cholesterol levels, whereas trans fats solely increase the bad cholesterol while simultaneously decreasing the bad cholesterol. The writer also informs the reader on the history of fats and oils, and the industry boom in the 1950s of hydrogenated products. The article is very specific to the topic at hand, and gives the reader current information on fats and oils, as well as a little background information. It can be easily understood by anyone who is willing to read it, outlining the facts and the fiction in black and white clarity. The Truth about Fats and Oils is targeted at individuals in society who do not have a clear understanding of the benefits and disadvantages of the various types of fat and oil, and the audience could be young teenage children to the elderly. Keiley keeps a generally un-biased view on all topics, blatantly stating the good and the bad. All information in the article is supported by citations and research, suggesting that the information is current and accurate.
Part C: Make an informed social comment. Linking chemistry with society?
All the different types of fats and oils behave in different ways in the human body, and the types that are consumed can have a profound impact on the individual’s short and long-term health. The impact of understanding fats and oils in society vital in the knowledge and maintenance of health in the human body. If an individual were to understand all the hidden implications and health benefits of the foods they consumed, they would be able to make a more informed decision on what they were eating and thus possibly changing their dietary choices.
Our judgement on the apparent “facts” about fats and oils are often clouded by the opinion and false judgement of society, and by error-ridden research of the past. To most individuals, the chemistry of fats and oils is unknown, and consequently the fats and oils that are being consumed are also unknown. Consequently, the fats and oils in the food do not have an impact on the individual. To a person with a dietary fat disorder however, it is a completely different story. They have to watch their intake of fats and oils extremely closely, and monitor their body’s reaction to an array of different types of foods. For example, an individual with diabetes is unable to consume overly sugary foods as their body is unable to process it as a normal individual’s could.
The reality is, all fats are beneficial towards the health of the human body, but in moderation. Over-consumption of anything, not just fats and oils, can have negative affects in the body, so it is important to keep everything in moderation. The “good” fats, or the ones that should be consumed more often than the rest, are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The “bad” fats, which should be consumed fairly irregularly, are saturated and trans fats, however it is important to note recent research suggest that these “bad” fats, in moderation, have many health benefits.
To be informed of the health benefits and risks of fats has never been so vital in society, as the rate of individuals with obesity has risen exponentially in the last decade due to the misuse and over-consumption of processed and fatty foods. A better education should be provided to the children of this generation, so next generation will not make the same lifestyle habits that have gained Australia the title of “fattest country in the world.”
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