The fats They are organic substances, that is to say that their molecules are composed mainly of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. They are the classes of lipids that contain fatty acids. For example: peanuts, tuna, margarine, butter.
Here we refer to all lipids containing fatty acids. However, lipids that are in solid state at room temperature and are of animal origin are usually called “fat”, while lipids that are in liquid state at room temperature are called “oil” and that in most of them are of plant origin.
It is a very heterogeneous group, but all fats have characteristics in common:
- Insoluble in water. That is why water and substances such as oil do not mix.
- Soluble in organic solvents. Fats can be dissolved in benzene, ether, chloroform, alcohol, and other organic substances. For this reason, when cleaning kitchens, alcohol is used to remove grease from surfaces.
- They have lower density than water. Small oil bubbles float in liquids like soups and broths.
- Slippery and shiny. Much of the lipids are slippery to the touch and shiny on their surface.
Function of fats
One of the main functions of fat is to store energy. While a gram of carbohydrates or protein has 4 kilocalories, a gram of fat has 9 kilocalories. Therefore, fat is the ideal material for storing energy.
However, fats fulfill other functions, such as creating tissues that insulate from the cold, protecting organs, participating in the absorption of vitamins and the synthesis of hormones, forming cell membranes and enveloping nervous tissue.
What are essential fatty acids?
It is called “essential”To substances that the human body needs for its proper functioning and cannot produce itself. This is why you need to get them from food.
In the case of fats, there are essential fatty acids that are essential for the human body, such as linoleic, arachidonic and lonoleic. These fatty acids are obtained from vegetable oils.
What is saturation?
Fats are usually made up of one glycerin molecule and one, two, or three fatty acids. When a compound is saturated, all its atoms are joined by a single bond and there is no possibility of any other atom joining. This is what he means by saturation: the maximum number of atoms attached to the molecule has been reached. Due to their molecular structure, Saturated fats they are solid at room temperature.
In contrast, if a compound is unsaturated, the atoms are linked by more than one bond. In these cases, double or triple bonds are observed. Due to their molecular structure, unsaturated fats they are liquid at room temperature.
What is a trans fat?
When a fatty acid is unsaturated, its double or triple bonds can be broken through hydrogen atoms. Let’s imagine links as joined hands. If two carbon atoms are joined together by a double bond (the two hands of both are joined together), a hydrogen atom can be added to each: each can “shake hands” with the new hydrogen atom, and then still remain attached to the other carbon atom by the remaining bond.
This process is called hydrogenation and it is the process by which unsaturated fats become saturated. This process occurs naturally only in the milk and body fat of cows and other ruminants.
However, it is widely used in industry, as it allows oils to solidify, giving food a special texture, as well as being less vulnerable to rancidity.
Dangers of saturated fats
Although fats are essential for the functioning of the body, not all of them are beneficial.
The Saturated fats They favor the accumulation of cholesterol (low-density cholesterol or LDL) in the walls of the arteries. This accumulation hinders blood circulation, affecting all organs and tissues, including the brain.
Trans fats have all the risks of saturated fats, but they also reduce the so-called “good cholesterol”: high-density cholesterol (HDL). HDL cholesterol helps maintain the internal walls of the veins, preventing arteriosclerosis, cardiac arrest and strokes. Consuming trans fat reduces this protection.
In addition, a excessive consumption of any type of fat favors the excessive accumulation of adipose tissue (fats) in the body. Although we all need the reserve of energy that adipose tissue represents, the excess of it causes diseases such as obesity. Obesity is not only an aesthetic problem, but it is associated with circulatory, metabolic, joint, respiratory, digestive diseases and can even cause psychiatric disorders.
Infrequent consumption of saturated fat does not necessarily cause problems, unless there is a natural predisposition of the body for cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, some of the harmful effects Measured intake of saturated fat can be counteracted by lifestyle, for example by exercise.
Examples of unsaturated fats
Examples of saturated fat
|Cream ice cream
Examples of trans fats
- Some cookies
- Fried in reused oil or that exceeds 180 degrees
- Most of the fast foods
- Some pre-cooked dishes
- Cereal bars
- Industrial pastry products (muffins, cakes, etc.)