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What’s The Difference Between Saturated Fat And Trans Fat?

Fat is the major source of energy for the body and helps in the absorption of nutrients like minerals and vitamins. People often have misconceptions related to fats that they only tend to increase body weight and lead to various chronic diseases. However, not all fat types have side effects- some are beneficial too.

There are basically two types of fat: healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats are divided into three subtypes, omega-3, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat while unhealthy fats include saturated and trans fat.

Though saturated and trans fats come under the list of unhealthy fats, they are differentiated in their own ways.

Here is the list of differences between the two of them. Take a look.

What Is Saturated Fat?

Saturated fat is a form of dietary fat that is solid at room temperature. All fat-containing foods contain a mixture of different fat types. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products, but some plant-based food items like coconut, coconut oil and palm oil also contain saturated fats. Other food items like fried foods and prepackaged foods are also packed with saturated fat.

Saturated fat is considered to be unhealthy as it tends to increase amounts of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also termed as 'bad cholesterol' in the body. This may lead to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. [1]

However, the best thing about saturated fat is, along with increasing LDL levels, it also increases levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL or 'good cholesterol' levels.

If people completely replace saturated fat with refined carbs, the levels of good cholesterol may also go down and the levels of total cholesterol (combination of LDL and HDL) in the body will be raised. Therefore, the overall impact is similar to that of eating too much saturated fat. [2]

Saturated fat is unhealthy only when consumed in higher amounts. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends, a person should get less than 10 per cent of calories every day from saturated fat.

What Is Trans Fat?

Trans fat is a type of unhealthy fat simply made by the process of hydrogenation, which involves heating liquid vegetable oils to solid fats in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst.

Some meat products like beef and lamb and dairy products naturally contain small amounts of trans fat. However, processed foods like frozen pizza, doughnuts, fried chicken and stick margarine, which are rich in trans fat are harmful for human health, as they only tend to increase levels of bad cholesterol in the body.

Partially hydrogenated oils like vegetable oils are great for frying quick foods as they can reach a high heating point and can survive heating without breaking down.

Trans fat is not good for the heart and blood vessels and along with raising cholesterol levels, it may cause inflammation and insulin resistance in the body, leading to conditions like obesity and diabetes. [3]

Healthy Alternatives To Unhealthy Fats

  • Olive oil, corn oil and canola oil instead of coconut and palm oil. [4]
  • Skim milk instead of whole milk.
  • Low-fat meat products like chicken breast and ground mutton instead of red meat.
  • Baked, steamed and boiled foods instead of fried foods.
  • Sugar alternatives like jaggery and honey instead of regular sugar.

To Conclude

Include foods containing monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and small amounts of saturated fat in your diet and avoid trans fat products like fried and processed foods.

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