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What is saturated fat?

The term "saturated" is not a reference to how densely fatty something is, but instead refers to the amount of hydrogen that is in a fat molecule.

Fat molecules are made up of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. When the open slots in a molecule are filled with hydrogen, then the fat is hydrogen saturated - or saturated, for short.

Hydrogenation is what makes oil a solid at room temperature, as in the case of margarine, and preserves it longer on store shelves.

The difference between a "saturated" or a "trans" fat refers primarily to the arrangement of the carbon and hydrogen atoms. In saturated fats, the placement makes molecules bend; in trans fat, it keeps them straight.

The health difference is much bigger than the chemical difference.

Continue Learning about Fats

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.