Fatty Acids & Where they Live

The most common forms of fat in foods and in the body are known as triglycerides. They make up about 95% of the total fat in the body.

Triglycerides are composed of three molecules:

  • one fatty acid
  • one molecule of glycerol
  • one alcohol

What are Fatty Acids?

Fatty acids are energy-rich chemical chains that come in three forms:

       1. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: Liquid at room temperature, decrease total    blood cholesterol but maintain your HDL (healthy/good) cholesterol.

Sources include:

  • certain oils and margarines (canola, olive, peanut, sesame)
  • avocado
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, peanuts, pistachios)
  • peanut butter
  • olives
  • sesame seeds
  • tahini paste

       2. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Liquid or soft at room temperature, decrease total blood cholesterol by lowering both the LDL (lazy/bad) cholesterol and the HDL (healthy/good) cholesterol.

Sources include:

  • certain oils and margarines (corn, safflower, soybean)
  • walnuts
  • mayonnaise
  • most salad dressings
  • pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are highly polyunsaturated. They are mostly found in seafood, especially high-fat fish, such as albacore tuna, mackerel, and salmon.

       3. Saturated Fatty Acids: Solid at room temperature and increase total cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

Sources include:

  • butter
  • cheese
  • cream cheese
  • sour cream
  • cream
  • ice cream
  • whole milk
  • bacon
  • beef
  • pork
  • poultry
  • shortening/lard
  • coconut
  • coconut oil
  • palm oil/palm kernel oil
  • cocoa butter

       4. Trans Fatty Acids: A man-made fatty acid. Hydrogenation is a complex process that might be outside the scope of what I would like to include here. Basically, Instead of the three part molecule the body has been used to digesting when it approaches a fatty acid.

[What is the point of hydrogenating foods?] Many foods are processed and easy to buy, stored in a vending machine, or shelf long before you are ready to consume it. This is a great application of science and technology for food availability, but not so great for food quality as these scientists are playing with our nutrition for the sake of profit. The longer it can sit on the shelf, the longer it can stay in your body.

Perhaps food didn’t naturally last that long for a reason. Opinions aside, scientists have cultivated a process called hydrogenation and given life to something called Trans-Fats, or Trans-Fatty Acids.

The problem with this is that the molecule is unrecognizable by your body. It doesn’t know how to break it down. You may continue to eat, even though have satiated your hunger, because the receptors in your brain are not sure that you’re eating food.

Large amounts of trans-fats in the body can make one feel lethargic because these trans-fat molecules get in the way of fat being used as an energy source, which in turn creates an urge to eat for energy.

Trans-Fats are a huge contributing factor to obesity and over-eating.



Chart Source

Trans-Fat Molecule Image Source






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