Image 1- Saturated fatty acid caprylic acid (Tuscany Diet, 2021) alongside the key for the interpretation of images 1 and 2.
Image 2- Unsaturated fatty acid caproleic acid, exhibits cis configuration on carbon 9 (Tuscany Diet, 2009).

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. 

Boundless General Microbiology. (2020, December). Lipid Molecules.

Lunn, J., & Theobald, H. E. (2006, August). The health effects of dietary unsaturated fatty acids. 



  1. Abstract: This steam project gives an in depth cover of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. For the visual this project has a 3d representation of saturated fatty acid caprylic acid and unsaturated fatty acid caproleic acid. The visual shows the differences in bonds and elements in the two fatty acids. The main objective this project covers is “identify carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids by their structure”. The paper part of the project talks about how the saturated fatty acids only contain single bonds on the carbon chain while the unsaturated fatty acids contain double bonds on the carbon chain. The paper then goes in depth on how saturated fatty acids are bad for the body and how we should try to replace saturated fatty acids in our diet with unsaturated fatty acids. It is suggested to consume unsaturated fatty acids because they help lower cholesterol levels and also may play a role in limiting heart disease. In the paper it goes over how it is not know how unsaturated fatty acids help with limiting heart disease but we know that it works cause the results show that these lower cholesterol and also helping cognitive brain efficiency. The paper then concludes that the role of fatty acids in the body is highly overlooked and needs to be taught more to help with dietary supplement and with healthy life style choices. Lastly the paper states that eating dietary fats help prevent plaque buildup, cardiovascular disease, and can impact brain functioning.

    Jaidin Allen McQuain

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