are fats and fatty acids?
are a group of chemical compounds that contain fatty acids. Energy is stored in
the body mostly in the form of fat. Fat is also needed in the diet to supply essential
fatty acids that are substances essential for growth but not produced by the body
itself. The terms fat and fatty acids are frequently used interchangeably.
are the main types of fatty acids?
are three main types of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated
and polyunsaturated. All fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen
atoms attached to the carbon atoms. A saturated fatty acid has the maximum possible
number of hydrogen atoms attached to every carbon atom. It is therefore said to
be "saturated" with hydrogen atoms, and all of the carbons are attached to each
other with single bonds.
some fatty acids, a pair of hydrogen atoms in the middle of a chain is missing,
creating a gap that leaves two carbon atoms connected by a double bond rather
than a single bond. Because the chain has fewer hydrogen atoms, it is said to
be "unsaturated." A fatty acid with one double bond is called "monounsaturated"
because it has one gap. Fatty acids having more than one gap are called "polyunsaturated."
The fat in foods
contains a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
In foods of animal origin, a large proportion of fatty acids are saturated. In
contrast, in foods of plant origin and some seafood, a large proportion of the
fatty acids are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The structure of saturated
and unsaturated chemical bonds looks like the diagram below.
(i.e., saturated fatty acid)
(i.e., unsaturated fatty acid)
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is trans fat?
trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil--a
process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor
stability of foods containing these fats.
fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies,
snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils.
Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers
turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. A small amount
of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods.
fat behaves like saturated fat by raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad")
cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Trans
fat can be found in some of the same foods as saturated fat, such as vegetable
shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods,
baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable
fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil -- a process called hydrogenation.
Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing
these fats. Usually the hydrogen atoms at a double bond are positioned on the
same side of the carbon chain. However, partial hydrogenation reconfigures some
double bonds and the hydrogen atoms end up on different sides of the chain. This
type of configuration is called "trans" (means "across" in Latin). The
structure of a trans unsaturated chemical bond looks like the diagram below.
(i.e., trans fatty acids)
Hydrogen atoms are on opposite sides of the chain of carbon atoms
at the carbon-carbon double bond.
fat, like saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, raises the LDL cholesterol that
increases your risk for CHD. Americans consume on average 4 to 5 times as much
saturated fat as trans fat in their diets.
will I find trans fat?
Vegetable shortenings, some margarines,
crackers cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially
stated in FDA's labeling regulations, if a fat or oil ingredient is completely
hydrogenated, the name in the ingredient list will include the term "hydrogenated."
Or, if partially hydrogenated, the name in the ingredient list will include the
term "partially hydrogenated." As stated above, oil that is partially hydrogenated
is a source of trans fat.
other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when liquid oils are made
into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. However, a small amount of
trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods. Essentially,
trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil -- a process
called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability
of foods containing these fats.
saturated fat is the main dietary culprit that raises LDL, trans fat and
dietary cholesterol also contribute significantly. Trans fat can often
be found in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils such
as vegetable shortenings, some margarines (especially margarines that are harder),
crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, and baked goods.
Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, and Cholesterol Content Per Serving*
Serving Size||Total Fat g||Sat.
Fat g||%DV for Sat. Fat||Trans
Fat g||Combined Sat. & Trans
Fat g||Chol. mg||%DV
values rounded based on FDA's nutrition labeling regulations.
** Butter values
from FDA Table of Trans Values, 1/30/95.
† Values derived from 2002
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 15.
values derived from 2003 USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,
± 1995 USDA Composition Data.
All Fats the Same?
put: no. Fat is a major source of energy for the body and aids in the absorption
of vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. Both animal and plant-derived food
products contain fat, and when eaten in moderation, fat is important for proper
growth, development, and maintenance of good health. As a food ingredient, fat
provides taste, consistency, and stability and helps us feel full. In addition,
parents should be aware that fats are an especially important source of calories
and nutrients for infants and toddlers (up to 2 years of age), who have the highest
energy needs per unit of body weight of any age group.
and trans fats raise LDL (or "bad") cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby
increasing the risk of heart disease. Dietary cholesterol also contributes to
heart disease. Unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated,
do not raise LDL cholesterol and are beneficial when consumed in moderation. Therefore,
it is advisable to choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol
as part of a healthful diet.
Can I Find Trans Fat on the Food Label?
can find trans fat listed on the Nutrition Facts panel directly under the
line for saturated fat.
Keep an eye on Saturated
Fat, Trans Fat and Cholesterol!
** || Margarine, stick † |
Saturated Fat : 7g
+ Trans Fat :
Combined Amt.: 7g
Saturated Fat : 2g|
+ Trans Fat : 3g
10 % DV||Cholesterol: 0
|*Nutrient values rounded
based on FDA's nutrition labeling regulations. Calorie and cholesterol content
**Butter values from FDA Table of Trans Values,
† Values derived from 2002 USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard
Reference, Release 15.