Difference Between Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

Main Difference – Trans Fat vs Saturated Fat

Trans fat and saturated fat are two types of dietary fats. In the presence of excess calories, the body makes fats. The fat that comes from animal and plant sources and serves as a macronutrient in the body is called dietary fat. Trans fat naturally occurs in some food. But, most of the trans fat is produced in the partial hydrogenation of oils during food processing. Saturated fat is mainly found in the animal food sources such as full-fat dairy products, red meat, and poultry. The main difference between trans fat and saturated fat is that trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and drops high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels in the blood whereas saturated fat raises both LDL and HDL levels in the blood.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Trans Fat
      – Definition, Sources, Role in the Body
2. What is Saturated Fat
      – Definition, Sources, Role in the Body
3. What are the Similarities Between Trans Fat and Saturated Fat
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is Difference Between Trans Fat and Saturated Fat
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Artificial Trans Fat, Cholesterol Level, Dietary Fat, High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), Hydrogenation, Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), Naturally-occurring Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat

Difference Between Trans Fat and Saturated Fat - Comparison Summary

What is Trans Fat

Trans fat refers to the fat which contains unsaturated, trans fatty acids. The two types of trans fat are naturally-occurring trans fat and artificial trans fat. Small amounts of trans fat occur in the milk and meat products and this fat is considered to be naturally-occurring trans fat. Artificial trans fat is produced by industrial processes such as partial hydrogenation of liquid oils. This type of trans fat exists as solids at room temperature. The partially hydrogenated oils are not considered as good for health. Margarine is one of the most common products of trans fat and it is shown in figure 1.

Main Difference - Trans Fat vs Saturated Fat

Figure 1: Margarine

Due to the low production cost, high shelf life, and convenience, trans fat is widely used all over the world. But, trans fat raises the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in the blood. In the meantime, it lowers the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. This may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Trans fat also decreases the cellular response to insulin. This leads to type 2 diabetes

What is Saturated Fat

Saturated fat refers to the fat which contains a high amount of fatty acid molecules without double bonds. Due to the saturation by hydrogen molecules, saturated fat is solid in nature. Saturated fat naturally occurs in meat and dietary products. Beef, lamb, poultry, butter, and cheese also contain saturated fat. Trans fat and saturated fat are shown in figure 2.

Difference Between Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

Figure 2: Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

Saturated fat elevates the levels of both LDL and HDL. LDL, also called bad cholesterol, increases the risk of the cardiovascular disease. But, HDL lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Similarities Between Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

  • Both trans fat and saturated fat are two types of dietary fats.
  • Both trans fat and saturated fat are solid at room temperature.
  • Both trans fat and saturated fat support the immune system.
  • Both trans fat and saturated fat increase the cholesterol level in the blood.
  • Both trans fat and saturated fat may cause excess weight as well as the cardiovascular disease.
  • The recommended levels of both trans fat and saturated fat is 6% of calories from the daily calorie needs.

Difference Between Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

Definition

Trans Fat: Trans fat is the fat that contains unsaturated, trans fatty acids and produced in the partial hydrogenation processes.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is the fat that contains a high amount of fatty acid molecules without double bonds.

Source

Trans Fat: Trans fat is produced in the partial hydrogenation of oils during food processing.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat naturally occurs in animal food sources such as full-fat dairy products, red meat, and poultry.

Composition

Trans Fat: Trans fat is made up of unsaturated fatty acids.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is made up of saturated fatty acids.

Role

Trans Fat: Trans fat raises LDL levels and drops HDL levels in the blood.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat raises both LDL and HDL levels in the blood.

Significance

Trans Fat: Due to the production of LDL, trans fat is directly associated with cardiovascular disease.

Saturated Fat: Due to the production of HDL, saturated fats reduce cardiovascular disease.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Trans Fat: Trans fat causes the loss of omega-3 fatty acids in tissues.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat conserves omega-3 fatty acids.

Response to Insulin

Trans Fat: Trans fat cause insulin resistance; hence, it leads to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat does not inhibit the binding of insulin with the insulin receptors.

C-reactive Protein

Trans Fat: Trans fat raises the levels of C-reactive proteins, leading to arterial inflammation.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fat does not raise the levels of C-reactive proteins.

Conclusion

Trans fat and saturated fat are the two forms of dietary fats, which are consumed by animals. Trans fat is mainly produced by the partial hydrogenation of oils. Saturated fat can be found in most meat and dairy products. Trans fat increases the LDL levels while decreasing the HDL levels. Saturated fat increases both LDL and HDL levels in the blood. The main difference between trans fat and saturated fat is the types of cholesterols increased in the blood by them. 

Reference:

1. “Trans Fat.” American Heart Association, Available here.
2. “Saturated Fat.” American Heart Association, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Margaryn 022″ By Kagor at the Ukrainian language Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Stearic acid” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia and “Elaidic-acid-2D-skeletal” By Benjah-bmm27 – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia [Combined]

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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