Bio-chemistry Blog Know Your Food

The Truth About Fats

To set things straight, I would like to preface this by saying that eating fats do not make you fat. This might be a bit scary to read so hold on to your stuffed animal tight:
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Jumpscare Warning!! 
**consuming foods that are rich in fat does not equate to storing more fat in the body. Period.** 
Imagine a food group, necessary for survival and functioning properly, being hated on for decades. Fats are a macronutrient that have gotten a bad rep, for what
Our ancestors relied on fats for having long term energy to survive and continue hunting and whatever else they did. When food was scarce, having foods higher in energy was key to be able to run away from wild animals. Or hunt them. 
As with everything in nature, too much of anything is bad. Working excessively without taking time for yourself will lead to burnout and more stress. Even working out too much is going to lead to fatigue and a lot of other health complications. This applies, perhaps even more, to food. Consuming too much of any food, no matter how healthy it is, will lead to an imbalance and it denies our bodies the proper ratio of macro nutrients they need.
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When eating cashews, arguably the best nut ever right before macadamia nuts, I feel fuller much faster than I would by any other food. Adding in a source of fat in your meal can help you feel full and satiated, but what is it in fats that makes them like that? That’s what we’re going to be looking at! 
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You might have heard of Omega-3 fats and unsaturated and saturated fats and this fat and that fat. If not, don’t worry, because that’s what this post is for. 
The main difference between all the fats lie in their chemical structure.
It would take quite a lot of writing and a slouched back to cover every single type of fat that we get from food. And knowing each one does not have too big of a return on investment. So this isn’t going to be your biology class and I’m not a teacher simply reading off notes from a slideshow. 
Fat molecules are made of long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms
 The main types of fats which are commonly found in food are: 
Saturated Fats
“Saturated” refers to the carbon chains that are drenched in hydrogen atoms. By drench, I mean that the carbon atoms in the fat hold the maximum number of hydrogen atoms possible
In a saturated fatty acid, one carbon atom is connected to two hydrogen atoms. Except for the last carbon atom, which is bonded to three hydrogen atoms
Every carbon atom is connected by a single bond, which is why the molecule is tightly packed together
– This creates a straight and rigid structure, and having a tight structure means you need more energy to break the bonds apart
Because of that increased need in energy (heat), saturated fats have a high melting point, where it takes a higher temperature for the solid state of a substance to turn into a liquid
Unsaturated Fats
1. ****: 
– Just as the name suggests, unsaturated fats are probably the opposite of saturated fats, and because they’re the opposite, unsaturated fats are not heavily drenched in hydrogen atoms
– Instead of hydrogen atoms, the bonds in unsaturated fats are **double bonds**
– These double bonds give the fatty molecules a bent shape
– Unsaturated fats have a low melting point (again, opposite of saturated fats), which means that they are liquid at room temperature
– **Because of their fluidity, unsaturated fats are considered good for us because they help our blood flow smoothly**
– “Unsaturated fats” is also a broader term for both **monounsaturated fats** and **polyunsaturated fats**
    – Monounsaturated fats have one double bond between the carbon atoms, while polyunsaturated fats have multiple bonds. Foods that have monounsaturated fats are olive oil and avocados. You’ve never seen olive oil being solid, right?
    – Within polyunsaturated fats, there are a few more sub categories of fats, like **omega-3** and **omega-6 fatty acids**. Our body doesn’t produce these omegas, so we have to get them through food.
    – **Omega  3**
        – When we think about what our brains are made up of, we don’t think of fat, right? Think again! Approximately 60% of our brains are made up of fat! The brain relies on fats like omega 3 to develop and function properly. You might remember from any science class that cells have a *lipid bilayer*. Lipids = fats. The adult brain has an estimated amount of 86 billion neurons (brain cells)! Think about all the lipid (fat) bilayers! These bilayers are made up of phospholipids. Omega 3 fatty acids, such as **DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)** make up a significant amount of these phospholipids.
        – Alright going back to what Omega-3 fatty acids do for us. Because they make up such a large portion of our brain, they’re super important for cognitive functions like memory, paying attention, and learning. But they don’t just affect our brains. Omega-3s impact different organs in our body, like our heart. In studies, **they’ve been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and decreasing the level of triglycerides (a type of fat found in our blood).**
        – That was a lot of science which you don’t really have to memorize (again, I’m not a teacher), but it is interesting to know what’s really in the food we eat. Getting to the main point: Eat your Omega-3s!!!! I can’t overstate thing enough, maybe I can. Promise me you will. Say “I promise”.
    – ******************Omega – 6******************
        – Omega 6 is like a cousin of Omega 3, but he starts to get annoying when you spend too much time with him
        – Omega 6s are ********similar******** to omega 3s because they both are made up of long carbon chains, which technically everything is. But that’s where it ends. From here on out, Omega 6s and 3s go their own way ***cue cowboy sheriff music***
        – Like I said before, our brains need a lot of fat to be working properly, and Omega 6s are another one of those fat, but they’re not the ************IT fat************
        – **Arachidonic acid (ARA)** is a type of Omega-6 which makes up the cell membranes in our brain
        – Quick detour, but we’ll get back in a second, more like an hour but who’s counting. Longer than usual but not too long paragraph warning!! Skip if low attention span is present.
        – Synaptic plasticity is the brains ability to change and adapt connections. Synapses are like bridges between neurons and these bridges get stronger through practice. Synaptic plasticity is happening all the time, even as you’re reading this right now! Your brain is always forming new connections and strengthening existing ones based on your experiences and the things you learn.
        – Longer than usual but not too long paragraph over
        – ARA, along with other Omega-6s, regulate the strength of synapses and the release of neurotransmitters at synapses.
        – Omega-6s are so very important for keeping a healthy brain and reducing inflammation in the body. BUT It is important to note that consuming too many Omega-6s can lead to an excess of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules called **prostaglandins** and **leukotrienes**.
        – These pro-inflammatory molecules can lead to tissue damage, impaired organ function, and contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Basically a lot of bad things that’s going to make living life harder than it is now.
1. **Trans Fats**:
– Imagine being such a criminal that you’re banned in *43* different countries. Say hello to trans fats.
– Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that forms from a process called **hydrogenation**, where the shelf life of processed foods is increased
– Trans fats have detrimental effects on heart health, as they raise bad cholesterol levels while lowering the good cholesterol. Makes sense why so many countries don’t want their people having it.
– The name “trans fats” comes from the fact that their double bonds are in a trans configuration. As I mentioned earlier, the carbon atoms in unsaturated fats are connected by double bonds.
    – These can be in a cis or trans configuration.
    – In a cis configuration, the two hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double bond
    – In a trans configuration, the hydrogen atoms are on opposite sides of the double bond.
    – This structural difference is what makes trans fat act the way they do in our bodies.
– Trans fats do occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, but only in small amounts
– A major source of trans fats is from hydrogenated oils (vegetable oil, palm oil, etc.) and it’s used a lot in processed and packaged foods. Fried foods, baked goods, snacks, margarine, are all part of the trans fat family. You can see why places like Denmark, Switzerland, Hungary, and Canada have either limited or banned the use of trans fats in their food products.
### Okay?? What foods do I even eat to get all these mono poly whatever I already forgot types of fats?
– Foods that have moderate to high amounts of Omega-3s:
    – Walnuts
    – Chia seeds
    – Hemp seeds
    – Flax seeds
    – Seaweed
    – Soybeans
    – Edamame
    – Pumpkin seeds
– Foods that hold moderate to high amounts of Omega-6s:
    – Sunflower seeds
    – Sesame seeds (tahini!!)
    – Hemp seeds (yes they have both Omega-3s and Omega-6s)
    – Pine nuts
    – Almonds
    – Avocado
    – Corn
    – Pistachios

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