Are saturated fats bad for you? Read and find out whether it is possible for men and women to eat fatty foods without risking heart and body health?
By themselves, saturated fatty acids may not be beneficial or harmful to heart health. The heart muscle needs polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. The effect of saturated fats on the human body, compared to unsaturated fats, is less useful, but it cannot be argued that they are absolutely harmful.
It is possible that some saturated fatty acids are beneficial for preventing heart disease.
What does “saturation” of fat mean?
The saturation of fatty acids (saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated) depends on the number of double bonds between atoms in the fat molecule. Saturated fatty acids are saturated with hydrogen atoms and do not have double bonds, while monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond, and polyunsaturated ones have many.
Saturated fatty acids with a straight chain are classified into a separate class, since they have their own structure.
What is saturated fat?
The different types of saturated fatty acids differ in their chain length. Saturated fatty acids are distinguished with different chain lengths: short, medium, long and very long.
Short chain saturated fatty acids are:
- Butyric acid (found in dairy products);
- Caproic acid (found in dairy products).
Saturated medium chain fatty acids are:
- Caprylic acid (coconut, palm kernel oil);
- Capric acid (coconut, palm kernel oil);
- Lauric acid (coconut, palm kernel oil).
Long chain saturated fatty acids are:
- Myristic (found in many foods);
- Palmitic (found in many foods);
- Stearic (found in many foods);
- Arachidic (peanuts), not to be confused with arachidonic acid.
Very long chain saturated fatty acids are:
- Behenic (peanuts);
- Lignoceric (peanut).
The effects of different saturated fats on the body differ, just as the effects of polyunsaturated fats Omega-3 differ from Omega-6.
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The most research on saturated fats has been on their effects on the heart, interactions with plasma cholesterol and triglycerides.
The purpose of the meta-analyzes was to clarify the effects of saturated fat consumption and to identify risks to heart health. As a result, scientists have not received evidence that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. In the course of the research, scientists were unable to confirm the connection between the consumption of saturated fat and the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease.
However, replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats will help eliminate these risks.
Saturated fats increase cholesterol levels over polyunsaturated fats. Various studies show that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats reduces blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This may lead to the conclusion that saturated fat increases these rates, when in fact they may have a neutral effect.
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Consuming large amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids is good for the heart.
Scientists have yet to confirm that high cholesterol levels cause heart problems. Although the ratio of “good” cholesterol and total cholesterol is an accurate diagnostic parameter.
Effects on the brain
In one study, replacing dietary monounsaturated fatty acids with saturated ones with vegetable oil (40% total fat, 16% selected group fat) made participants more irritable and less active.
Weight gain and loss
Studies on the appetite-suppressing hormone (neuropeptide YY) have shown that fatty foods are much more effective than protein and carbohydrates in raising the level of the neuropeptide in the blood after a meal. Note that the participants in the experiment consumed saturated fat on a par with polyunsaturated fatty acids, but in greater quantities than monounsaturated fatty acids. In other studies saturated fat was consumed in slightly higher amounts than monounsaturated fatty acids. At the same time, the level of the neuropeptide remained stable all day and only after eating increased many times.
Saturated fats are more effective than unsaturated fats at stimulating neuropeptide production. But these conclusions cannot yet be called objective.
Exploring hunger and satiety confirm that saturated fats are slightly better than unsaturated fats at suppressing appetite and satisfying hunger.
Replacing monounsaturated fatty acids with saturated ones reduces spontaneous activity, so you burn fewer calories.
Diet has a huge impact on hormones. Vegetarians have low androgen levels, as do people who prefer low-fat foods. In men, a diet low in “healthy” fats and high in fiber reduces androgen levels. A diet of 41% fat, most of which is saturated, increases testosterone. In older men, with a decrease in fatty foods, testosterone levels fall by 12%, and in younger men, with an increase in fat in food, testosterone levels can increase by 13%.
Dietary fat in general (slightly overweight in favor of saturated fat) has a positive effect on testosterone and androgen production. Fluctuations of hormones with changes in fat content in food are quite small (below 20%).