The Chemistry Of Fat In Our Bodies

Talking about fat, did you know that there is chemistry behind the fat in our body too? Yes, this is true, there is chemistry involved behind fats as well. Let us find out more about the chemistry of fat in our bodies.

Most of us are health conscious. Almost every celebrity, magazine, newspaper or television channel are promoting fitness by losing fat and keeping our weight in check. But did you know there is a link between chemistry and fats in our body?

The modern obsession with fats and cholesterol is due to a greater understanding of the role of a group of bio-chemicals known as Lipids. Fats and oils are one type of lipids that are triglyceride molecules and are based on glycerol, which is an organic molecule made up of a chain of three carbon atoms with a hydroxyl (OH) group. Each hydroxyl group in glycerol connects to a long chain molecule known as a fatty acid. This results in a three-tailed molecule, which is called as a triglyceride. During the formation of triglycerides, the resultant fat molecules are totally hydrophobic, i.e. they do not dissolve in water. The human body stores these fats because they are a good source of energy.

Saturated, unsaturated fats and oils refer to the bonding between the carbons and hydrogen in the long chain of the fatty acids. Fats derived from animals have chains that are all bonded with single bonds where all the carbon atoms have hydrogen atoms attached. These are called saturated fats. Since the chains all line up nicely, they are usually solid even at room temperature.

Cis and Trans fats are prefixes that are often seen on nutritional information on food packets. They relate to the shape of the carbon-carbon double bond. If the hydrogen is bonded to the same side of the double bond then it is a cis-bond. If they are bonded to the opposite sides then it is a trans-bond.

Compared to trans-bonds, cis-bonds are easier for the body to break down and are found abundantly in natural vegetable oils. If the oil is heated, they transform into trans-bonds. Oil that has been continually heated and re-heated has a lot of trans-bonds. This is why food cooked in deep fat fryers contains more trans-bonds than those cooked in a frying pan.

So, the next time you hear about fat, don’t blindly believe that all fats are bad. Some are beneficial and almost vital for our body! Just ensure you are consuming the right ones.