Fats are solid at room temperature and usually from an animal source. Oils are liquid at room temperature and generally from vegetables and seeds. Fats are mostly more saturate than oils.
Lipids, Fats, Oils & Fatty acids
Fats and oils contain two kinds of molecules, one glycerol, and three fatty acids. There are three fatty acids attached, so got the name triglycerides.
We used to call oils, fats, and lipids interchangeably. While fats tend to be solids and oils tend to be liquid at room temperature.
Fatty acid in the lipids are of two types; they are:
- Saturated fatty acids contain all the bonds between carbon-atoms are the single bond. Saturated fatty acids are lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, etc.
- Unsaturated fatty acids contain some of the bonds between carbon atoms are double bonds. Unsaturated fatty acids are palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, arachidonic acid, etc.
What is a saturated fatty acid?
Saturated fatty acid has no double bonds and has only one single (-C-C-) bond in the carbon chain.
Some common saturated fatty acids are
- stearic (animal fat and chocolate),
- lauric (coconut oil),
- palmitic (palm oil, animal products, and dairy), and
- myristic (coconut oil and dairy).
In saturated fats, the hydrogen atom occupies all the carbon bonds. Thus makes it more stable and straight in shape. That is why; it is solid or semisolid at room temperature. This unique composition makes it less likely to turn rancid on heated (frying). So no dangerous free radical’s formation, primary causation of heart disease and cancer.
The saturated fatty acids are in breast milk and essential for infants and toddlers. This fatty acid provides taste, consistency, and stability to the foods.
What is an unsaturated fatty acid?
Unsaturated fatty acid contains at least one double (-C=C-) bond in the carbon chain.
Unsaturated fatty acids are usually from vegetables and seeds. They are less stable and high in omega 6. When heating, its breakdown, and forms free radicals.
Unsaturated fats are of two types; they are:
- Monounsaturated fatty acids contain only one double bond (-C=C-) in the carbon chain. Examples are in olives, sesame, almonds, pecans, cashews, peanut, canola and avocados.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids contain more than one double bond (-C=C-C-C=C-) in the carbon chain. Examples are in safflower, sesame, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils.
Monounsaturated Fatty acid
Monounsaturated fatty acid has 1 double bond between 2 carbon atoms, so help to bend and liquid at room temperature. But turn into solid form when refrigerated.
Your body can make monounsaturated fatty acid from saturated fatty acid if needed. Like saturated fats, monounsaturated oils are relatively stable. It does not go rancid quickly; hence can use for cooking.
Use monounsaturated extra-virgin olive oil for salad dressing and should not use for cooking. Because olive oil is susceptible to oxidative damage when heated.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Polyunsaturated Fatty acids have more than one double bond. Thus, it remains liquid during refrigeration.
The two most common polyunsaturated fatty acids are linoleic acid and linolenic acid. The body cannot make this fatty acid; thus called essential fatty acids.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids have two subtypes
- Omega 3 and
- Omega 6.
Hydrogenation process involves heating vegetable oil along with hydrogen and heavy metal catalyst. In this way, hydrogen atoms shot (add) into the carbon chain.
The food industry uses a process called hydrogenation to manufacture Trans-fats. The hydrogenation process is by shooting hydrogen atoms into polyunsaturated vegetable oils. This hydrogenation makes it stable and straight in shape. Thus, it turns solid or semisolid at room temperature and less likely to go rancid on heated (frying).
Trans fats made from unsaturated fats are also considering as saturated fatty acid. It is human-made or modified fat, which is dangerous for your health.