Some science behind the scenes

Triglycerides

Momofuku Ribeye

Triglycerides are lipids made from glycerol and fatty acids and a saturated fat consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids.  Triglycerides are obtained in our diet.  Whether something is a saturated or unsaturated fatty acid is dependent on its chemical make up – it is thus a chemical classification.  If we look at this as a hierarchy

  • Unsaturated fat - In an unsaturated fatty acid, the carbon atoms in the hydrocarbon chain are not bonded to the maximum number of other atoms.  Two or more carbon atoms have double bonds between them.  Fatty acids with one double bond are called monounsaturated fatty acids, those with two or more double bonds are called polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Monounsaturated fat
  • Polyunsaturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Omega numbering:  ω−3, ω−6, ω−7, ω−9,
  • Saturated fat  - In a saturated fatty acid, each carbon atom in the hydrocarbon chain is linked to a carbon atom on either side and also to two hydrogen atoms.

Purpose

 

Triglycerides are a concentrated source of energy.  They have more energy potential than either carbohydrates or protein, as such it is not wise to overdose.  Each gram of fat or oil yields about 38kJ, more than twice the energy of a gram of carbohydrate.  In mammals, excess fat is laid down for storage in special connective tissue called adipose tissue.  So put crudely, if you overdose on fatty acids you become obese quicker than if you overdose on sugars and carbohydrates.

When we were early man, with no central heating and an outdoor life, fatty acids were absolutely key to our survival.  As well as being a slow release form of energy, the adipose tissue we built up gave us heat insulation.  Fat is a very bad conductor of heat, as such mammals including us, tend to increase their adipose tissue in winter to reduce heat loss.

Furthermore very delicate organs such as the kidneys which are vulnerable to knocks and bumps have relatively thick layers of fat around them because the fat works as a shock absorber.

 

There is another interesting link.  Two other sorts of lipids found in the body are manufactured via enzymes from Triglycerides.  And both appear to have a major role in controlling pain relief, bliss and happiness

  • Monoglycerides  - is the term for a glyceride in which each glycerol molecule has formed an ester bond with exactly one fatty acid molecule.  They are produced in the body from enzymes acting on triglycerides ‘by the action of lipoprotein lipase’.  . 
  • Di-glycerides [diacyl-glycerol] - is the term for a glyceride consisting of two fatty acid chains covalently bonded to a glycerol molecule through ester linkages. They are produced in the body from enzymes acting on triglycerides.  They too appear to be key to pain relief and happiness [bliss].

So if you eat your dripping sandwiches and munch on your nice fatty rib eye steak, you are more likely to be a happy bunny with less pain.

Saturated fatty acids

 The following table from Wikipedia lists some of the saturated fatty acids

Common Name

Systematic Name

Lipid Numbers

Propionic acid

Propanoic acid

C3:0

Butyric acid

Butanoic acid

C4:0

Valeric acid

Pentanoic acid

C5:0

Caproic acid

Hexanoic acid

C6:0

Enanthic acid

Heptanoic acid

C7:0

Caprylic acid

Octanoic acid

C8:0

Pelargonic acid

Nonanoic acid

C9:0

Capric acid

Decanoic acid

C10:0

Undecylic acid

Undecanoic acid

C11:0

Lauric acid

Dodecanoic acid

C12:0

Tridecylic acid

Tridecanoic acid

C13:0

Myristic acid

Tetradecanoic acid

C14:0

Pentadecylic acid

Pentadecanoic acid

C15:0

Palmitic acid

Hexadecanoic acid

C16:0

Margaric acid

Heptadecanoic acid

C17:0

Stearic acid

Octadecanoic acid

C18:0

Nonadecylic acid

Nonadecanoic acid

C19:0

Arachidic acid

Eicosanoic acid

C20:0

Heneicosylic acid

Heneicosanoic acid

C21:0

Behenic acid

Docosanoic acid

C22:0

Tricosylic acid

Tricosanoic acid

C23:0

Lignoceric acid

Tetracosanoic acid

C24:0

Pentacosylic acid

Pentacosanoic acid

C25:0

Cerotic acid

Hexacosanoic acid

C26:0

Heptacosylic acid

Heptacosanoic acid

C27:0

Montanic acid

Octacosanoic acid

C28:0

Nonacosylic acid

Nonacosanoic acid

C29:0

Melissic acid

Triacontanoic acid

C30:0

Henatriacontylic acid

Henatriacontanoic acid

C31:0

Lacceroic acid

Dotriacontanoic acid

C32:0

Psyllic acid

Tritriacontanoic acid

C33:0

Geddic acid

Tetratriacontanoic acid

C34:0

Ceroplastic acid

Pentatriacontanoic acid

C35:0

Hexatriacontylic acid

Hexatriacontanoic acid

C36:0

 And here we have an example table from the same source

Saturated fat profile of common foods; Esterified fatty acids as percentage of total fat

Food

Lauric acid

Myristic acid

Palmitic acid

Stearic acid

Coconut oil

47%

18%

9%

3%

Palm oil

48%

1%

44%

5%

Butter

3%

11%

29%

13%

Ground beef

0%

4%

26%

15%

Dark chocolate

0%

1%

34%

43%

Salmon

0%

1%

29%

3%

Egg yolks

0%

0.3%

27%

10%

Cashews

2%

1%

10%

7%

Soybean oil

0%

0%

11%

4%