Properties of saturated fats

Characteristics and uses of saturated fatty acids


What are saturated fatty acids or saturated fats?

Saturated fatty acids are a type of fat that is characterized by the absence of double bonds between the carbon chains, which form the fatty acid.

They have chains shorter than the other fatty acids, but also the longer ones, since they can be formed with only 4 carbons, but some waxes can contain 35.

Characteristics of saturated fatty acids

Saturated fatty acids are those that do not contain any double bonds or unsaturation in their carbon chain, so all bonds are simple or saturated.

This feature allows the binding of molecules by Van Der Waals forces, which gives a more stable structure to the molecule.

Physically this stability is manifested by the characteristic that saturated fatty acids are solid or semisolid at room temperature, such as butter.

Foods rich in saturated fatty acids

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Photo of a detail of some cookies composition. The classification of fats can be distinguished according to whether they are saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated

The most common saturated fatty acids in foods are usually those containing 14, 16 and 18 carbons, which are called myristic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid, respectively.

They are usually designated by the following nomenclature: C14: 0, C16: 0 and C18: 0.

The number that precedes the quantity of carbons, designates the amount of double bonds or unsaturations, in this case they are saturated and consequently, the value is zero.

Other less common are some waxes, which have a longer chain of 18 carbons.

Types of saturated fatty acids

Saturated fatty acids are classified according to the carbon chain length of the fatty acid. Below, there is a table of the usual saturated fatty acids:

Saturated fatty acidName of fatty acidVegetal foods containing itAnimal feed containing it
C4:0Butyric acidMilk of cow, cream of milk, butter.
C5:0Valeric acidValerian root
C6:0Caproic acidVegetable oilsGoat milk, butter and animal fats
C8:0Caprylic acidPalm seed oil and coconut oilMilk
C10:0Capric acidCoconut oilMilk, Lard
C12:0Lauric acidTropical vegetable oils, coconut oil and palm oilBreast milk
C14:0Myristic acidNutmeg, coconut, palm kernel, other tropical vegetable oilsMilk of cow, milk cream and derivatives.
C16:0Palmitic acidPalm oil, abundant in many oilsCow milk, meat, eggs, abundant in most fats.
C18:0Stearic acidCocoa butter, abundant in many oilsMeat, eggs, abundant in most fats.
C20:0Arachidic acidPeanut oilLard
C22:0Behenic acidMustard oil and some waxes
C24:0Lignoceric acidOlive oil and peanut
C26:0Ceric acidBee wax

* Related information:

Low-fat diets

Types of fats

Low fat foods

High fat foods

What is body fat?

punto rojo More information on fats.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

9 February, 2024

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