Saturated Fats: What NOT to Eat

It has long been known that consumption of saturated fatty acids, as opposed to unsaturated fatty acids, is bad for ones health due to their significant contributions to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and development of type 2 diabetes.

As a short introduction, saturated versus unsaturated with respect to organic compounds like fatty acids refers to the absence (saturated) or presence (unsaturated) of double bonded carbon atoms (written as -C=C-). A carbon can form four bonds with four up to four different atoms. In fats, these other atoms are hydrogens (H) and carbons (C). When the C of a fatty acid is bonded to 3 H, or 2 H and 2 C it is said to be saturated.

The most abundant saturated fatty acid found in the circulation of humans is palmitic acid. This fatty acid contains 16 carbon atoms all of which are fully saturated. Much research has shown that diets rich in saturated fats contributes to the developement of a range of disorders, including type 2 diabetes (T2D). Recently it has been shown that high levels of palmitic acid (also written as palmitate) activate an inflammation pathway, that when activated in the cells of the pancreas that secrete insulin (the beta cells), result in beta cell death. This beta cell death significantly contributes to reduced insulin production and secretion contributing to the overall decline in insulin sensitivity seen associated with obesity and resulting in T2D. This work was recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism:

  • http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2012.01.023

  • So foods one SHOULD NOT eat due to high levels of palmitic acid:

    #1 palm oil, 41,000mg per 100gm
    #2 shortening
    #3 butter (unsalted is worse than salted!!!)
    #4 lard

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