My steam project is based on the objective “identify carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids by their structure”. The research in my project focuses on the structure of unsaturated fatty acids, the role they play in the diet, and their usage in the body. In my project, I made a 3D model of saturated fatty acid caprylic acid and unsaturated fatty acid caproleic acid; this demonstrates the structural differences and the molecular differences in saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.
According to Boundless General Microbiology (2020), in chains of fatty acids, the molecular structure can be either saturated or unsaturated. In saturated fatty acids, the carbon backbone has single bonds between carbon atoms in the hydrocarbon chain. With unsaturated fatty acids, there can be either one or multiple double bonds present within the hydrocarbon chain. Double bonds within unsaturated fatty acids present as a cis or trans configuration; cis configurations describe atoms on the same plane of the double bonds and trans configurations describe atoms on opposite planes of the double bond.
25%-30% of energy within the adult body should be from dietary fat, but trans-fatty acids and saturated acids should be excluded from the diet as often as possible – an increase in unsaturated fatty acids should be present as these fats are avoided (American Dietician Association, 2007). The body can synthesize most fatty acids besides two, which are labeled as essential fatty acids. These acids have to be consumed within the diet and are often found within oily fish. Although the diet can provide many sources of dietary fiber, the western diet is suggested to have lower amounts of one kind of an essential fatty acid (Lunn, 2006). Some foods that can help satisfy the recommended amount of essential fatty acids required in the diet are as followed: nonhydrogenated oil, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meats, poultry, low-fat dairy products, and fish (American Dietician Association, 2007).
So, why is it important to consume unsaturated fats? According to Lunn (2006), dietary fat plays a part in affecting the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases due to the narrowing or hardening of arteries. Replacing high levels of saturated fats in the body with unsaturated fats lowers cholesterol levels; strong evidence also supports the notion that dietary fats are helpful in curbing the development of heart disease. The mechanism by which this is done is still poorly understood, but the effects that dietary fats have on blood pressure, blood lipid concentration, the body’s inflammatory response, and the endothelial system could all aid in understanding how dietary fats aid our bodies. Brain cells have large amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids – this suggests that consuming these unsaturated fatty acids can impact cognitive functioning alongside preventing heart disease.
In conclusion, dietary fat’s role in the body is poorly understood but can be described as helpful and preventative of heart disease. This research mostly focused on the structure of unsaturated and saturated fats and their configurations, fats within the diet that provide the body with essential fatty acids, and their role in preventing fatal heart disease. Eating dietary fats help prevent plaque buildup, cardiovascular disease, and can impact brain functioning; including any of the listed foods can help your body in many different ways that are extremely beneficial to bodily functions.
American Dietician Association, Dietitians of Canada, Innis, S., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2007, September). Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: dietary fatty acids. https://europepmc.org/article/med/17936958
Boundless General Microbiology. (2020, December). Lipid Molecules. https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_and_General_Biology/Book%3A_General_Biology_(Boundless)/3%3A_Biological_Macromolecules/3.2%3A_Lipid_Molecules/3.2A%3A_Lipid_Molecules
Lunn, J., & Theobald, H. E. (2006, August). The health effects of dietary unsaturated fatty acids. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2006.00571.x
Tuscany Diet. (2021, April). LIST OF FATTY ACIDS: IUPAC AND COMMON NAMES, SHORTHANDS. https://www.tuscany-diet.net/lipids/list-of-fatty-acids/