23

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Is "Saturated Fat" a helpless victim of its own moniker?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 11, 2011 at 6:51 PM

The reason it's called saturated fat is because it it fully saturated with hydrogen. But might there be a better label? What if calling it "saturated fat" has had a major influence on how people perceive what it actually is? Think about it...

Saturated Fat!!

What would most people think of? Fat sitting in a pool of grease... (as in "Saturated" with grease?) I think this is why people are so quick to accept the idea that saturated fat is terrible for you and clogs your arteries. The mental image that the name itself induces is likely not positive.

Might the world's view of the fat types be radically amended if we had chosen to name it something more understandable?

Ex:

Saturated Fat >>> Whole Stable Fat

Monounsaturated Fat >>> Stable Fat

Polyunsaturated Fat >>> Unstable Fat

Medium avatar

(2169)

on August 13, 2011
at 01:01 AM

Is it bad that BAMBAM's train of thought was completely logical to me? lol. anyway. Since we're on the subject of omega 6s and omega 3s, anybody know a way (like fitday) to track how much omega 3 vs omega 6 one ingests daily? I don't think it matters what you call them if the government is telling people which fat is good and bad.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:33 PM

I agree that stable is a positive, whereas saturated is by itself neutral but people have been brainwashed into thinking that it kills you dead.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:43 PM

I thought of "complete" but then realized people will be saying.. "Oh. That's complete fat", which could definitely cause even more confusion, so that's out.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:42 PM

Stabby - this is true. We can hang with this stuff. We care. But the vast majority of people will get glazey eyed at the names of all the fatty acids. Most people just don't care. That's why I chose to keep it simple with the 'stable' labeling. Right now, all sat fats are bunched up into one category >> sat fat. In fact, your closing sentence explains it perfectly. So I think if they are already gonna be bunched together, it may as well be a more appropriate and understandable term so people can truly know something important about the molecule.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:26 AM

call*..........

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:25 AM

On a daily basis I see more and more evidence that the USDA is intentionally killing us. People will laugh and ca me a conspiracy theorist but it's so blaringly OBVIOUS!

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:19 AM

Taking your example a step further, it goes to why people's perception of "grease"/fat is bad.

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 10:14 PM

Jack: They have managed to cloud the difference between Omega-3 and Omega-6 to the point where I think it's necessary to translate the difference. Omega 3's are in my estimation they most important fat molecule ahead of saturated fats. While saturated fats are needed to build cell membranes, omega 3's are essential for the nervous system, specifically because they make up 60% of the structure of brain cells. Omega 3's are brain fats. Omega 6's are pain fats. Hey, I kinda like that!

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 10:03 PM

Olivia: The need for an inflammatory response in the body does not justify an inflammatory diet/lifestyle, yet they set the stage in college curriculum by overemphasizing the benefit of inflammation and de-emphasizing the potential for catastrophic damage caused by an unnatural level of inflammation - full blown inflammation throughout the body.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 11, 2011
at 09:21 PM

plus one........Jack is being poisoned by Dr Davis. LOL

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:40 PM

EFA's would still be approriately labeled as unstable though, because they are. And the 'damage' done by any potential vilification of O3 would still be far less damaging than the current vilification of saturated fats in mainstream thinking.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:36 PM

"Stable" is good, although if people think "shelf stable", that may still raise the image of thick, solid fats "clogging" the arteries. Another option would be "complete fat," since it has all its hydrogen molecules. The others are all "incomplete" in some way.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:36 PM

I've never read a bio textbook that introduced inflammation in that manner. And some inflammation IS necessary and life saving in some circumstances.

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:35 PM

Jack. Textbooks always emphasize how saturated fats "pack" tighter. The suggestion there is that they form a rock solid boulder in your veins. The language is carefully crafted. When you're talking about Monsanto and trillions of dollars over time, should be easy to cherry pick effective communicators that will push your product and demonize your competition - health be damned.

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:32 PM

The food giants control classification systems though. They label all unsaturated fatty acids as "essential". Textbooks always introduce "inflammation" as some sort of life saving mechanism. They say Eskimos with high Omega-3's bleed out there noses and there is a risk in high Omega 3 intake - but not 6.

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:27 PM

There needs to be a way to not villainize EFAs.

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:25 PM

The other fat don't need to villainized.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:22 PM

yep that's true too. either way I also like the idea of calling saturated fats "stable" fat instead, because that's a descriptor that's meaningful even if you know nothing about the chemistry of fats. Either that or the solution is to force everyone to learn a little basic biochemistry :)

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:21 PM

Yes we are on the same page. I read the first part of your question, immediately thought of a new name for saturated fat, skipped to my comment box, looked up and saw that you had used "stable" to describe saturated and that's just what I was about to suggest. I laughed.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:19 PM

I had to re-read your opening sentence like 5 times to understand what you meant. Like... as in.. we are on the SAME page because you have also thought of this. +1 BB.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:17 PM

that may be true... but we will never be able to knwo for sure, because the term "saturated" is not unique to fats. saturated is used in many instances and when the common understanding of what saturated means is applied to fats, it creates an unfair connotation that doesn't correctly identify what it actually is.

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:15 PM

I should say...the USDA is pushing the most unstable fats.

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:11 PM

Saturated = Stable Mono = Mostly stable Poly = Mostly unstable Omega 3 = ? It's a poly so...

Medium avatar

(5639)

on August 11, 2011
at 06:57 PM

I like this! Alot!

  • Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

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8 Answers

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2
226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:07 PM

LOL. Get OUT of my brain, brother. Before viewing your reframing of the fats, I too thought it better to reframe saturated fat as "stable fat"...and low and behold. It's the molecular truth though. The least stable fats are the ones the USDA is pushing. On top of that they are pushing the unstable 6's at a 10:1 ratio over the 3's (for females).

Now we need a name to differentiate the 3's and assign them value as well.

But I LOVE the idea of referring to stearic acid, palmitic acid and the like as stable fatty acids.

It hurts that different food sources contain blends of all them. Agribusiness lobbyists take advantage of that in their PR campaigns.

My organic chem textbook lists corn oil as a source of Omega-3 linolenic fatty acid even though the ratio of Omega 6-linoleic in corn to Omega-3 linolenic is (according to my chem professor) something like 6:1 or 9:1 (can't remember exactly). It's easy to confuse and cloud the facts for an army of future health care professionals...never mind the consumers.

We definitely need to change the common terms applied to fats to help simplify them so that people can understand what is healthy and what is a health risk.

Great post. +1

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:15 PM

I should say...the USDA is pushing the most unstable fats.

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:11 PM

Saturated = Stable Mono = Mostly stable Poly = Mostly unstable Omega 3 = ? It's a poly so...

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:25 AM

On a daily basis I see more and more evidence that the USDA is intentionally killing us. People will laugh and ca me a conspiracy theorist but it's so blaringly OBVIOUS!

226b10cbb6b1d3530b00d2d84a2dc86e

(3313)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:21 PM

Yes we are on the same page. I read the first part of your question, immediately thought of a new name for saturated fat, skipped to my comment box, looked up and saw that you had used "stable" to describe saturated and that's just what I was about to suggest. I laughed.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:19 PM

I had to re-read your opening sentence like 5 times to understand what you meant. Like... as in.. we are on the SAME page because you have also thought of this. +1 BB.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on August 13, 2011
at 01:01 AM

Is it bad that BAMBAM's train of thought was completely logical to me? lol. anyway. Since we're on the subject of omega 6s and omega 3s, anybody know a way (like fitday) to track how much omega 3 vs omega 6 one ingests daily? I don't think it matters what you call them if the government is telling people which fat is good and bad.

65430e39d7e9e9322718d016fe668051

(2944)

on August 12, 2011
at 02:26 AM

call*..........

4
7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Not really. I think the reason those words have those connotations to begin with is because we start learning pretty much as soon as we can read that saturated fat is awful, unsaturated fat is good. If conventional dietary advice was "avoid polyunsaturated ("bad") fats and use saturated ("good") fats as much as possible" then our perception would be different.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:36 PM

"Stable" is good, although if people think "shelf stable", that may still raise the image of thick, solid fats "clogging" the arteries. Another option would be "complete fat," since it has all its hydrogen molecules. The others are all "incomplete" in some way.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:22 PM

yep that's true too. either way I also like the idea of calling saturated fats "stable" fat instead, because that's a descriptor that's meaningful even if you know nothing about the chemistry of fats. Either that or the solution is to force everyone to learn a little basic biochemistry :)

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:17 PM

that may be true... but we will never be able to knwo for sure, because the term "saturated" is not unique to fats. saturated is used in many instances and when the common understanding of what saturated means is applied to fats, it creates an unfair connotation that doesn't correctly identify what it actually is.

2
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:59 AM

I never thought a pool of grease, I thought this guy: is-

It takes a few leaps to get from saturated to a big ol' pool of grease, why not a pool saturated with bunny wabbits or glue? People think saturated fat is unhealthy because for the last handful of decades they have been bombarded with anti-saturated fat propaganda from all sides. It really is like artergycloggingsaturatedfat is one word due to the effort to make it public enemy number one, harbinger of death and doom.

The problem is that extinction of conditioning takes a long time. Apparently you still read it and have a knee-jerk "omg gonna kill me!" before your reason comes in and corrects things. That response is getting weaker and eventually you will be free of it. Ways to speed up the process:

  1. Take time every day to tell saturated fat you love it.
  2. When you sleep, cuddle with a few bricks of butter.
  3. Compose a song or piece of artwork to saturated fat.
  4. Cover yourself in cream in a sexual manner. Coconut oil is an acceptable substitute. Palm oil makes a decent one, although you will obviously be orange.

A better alternative to a fringe health community hijacking biochemical terms is to call them by their individual names: palmitic acid, stearic acid, lauric acid, etc. It's also a lot more accurate since they behave differently. I always laugh at people who look at saturated fat from beef and think that it is all the supposedly evil saturated fat. Stearic acid always seems to lower LDL in the short-term. You already know that, many people around here do, but the rest of the world is clueless.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:43 PM

I thought of "complete" but then realized people will be saying.. "Oh. That's complete fat", which could definitely cause even more confusion, so that's out.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:33 PM

I agree that stable is a positive, whereas saturated is by itself neutral but people have been brainwashed into thinking that it kills you dead.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 12, 2011
at 03:42 PM

Stabby - this is true. We can hang with this stuff. We care. But the vast majority of people will get glazey eyed at the names of all the fatty acids. Most people just don't care. That's why I chose to keep it simple with the 'stable' labeling. Right now, all sat fats are bunched up into one category >> sat fat. In fact, your closing sentence explains it perfectly. So I think if they are already gonna be bunched together, it may as well be a more appropriate and understandable term so people can truly know something important about the molecule.

2
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:17 PM

While I disagree that "saturated" has negative connotations apart from the ones conferred on it by fatphobes, I do think "stable" has excellent connotations. I'm definitely going to be using that one.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 11, 2011
at 09:21 PM

plus one........Jack is being poisoned by Dr Davis. LOL

1
0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on August 12, 2011
at 04:25 AM

I think this points to a much broader and very important part of language - metaphors. This is an area of linguistics that I find very interesting - I also know nearly nothing about it.

"Saturated" is but one term that delivers other unwanted (or wanted) connotations. For instance, in America we use a lot of mechanical metaphors to understand things - we "burn" calories as "fuel", hormone receptors work with the hormones like a "lock and key." Or war metaphors - we "fight colds and viruses" or we "battle cancer". While these metaphors offer descriptors and images that help us better understand something that is invisible and complex, they are not correct.

I think we would could do much better in understanding human health (and a lot of things) if we used our language more carefully and more accurately.

1
154d799847153f5589f99496a9bdbb71

on August 11, 2011
at 07:08 PM

This reminds me too much of the corn industry pushing to rename HFCS to Corn Sugar. I say take "saturated fat" and own it.

But let me clarify: I'm against the motivation of renaming to avoid the baggage, but I am for making the name more meaningful. Looking at my coconut oil and calling it a stable fat makes perfect sense.

0
6f4425e3c7dc0efe60da531c5d991487

on January 04, 2013
at 03:16 PM

Good observation! You're right, I believe. Not to mention, your position that language "colors" our perception puts you in very good company, indeed.

You should check out the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

0
6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on August 11, 2011
at 07:04 PM

DEFINITELY. Polyunsaturated sounds soooo much healthier than saturated.

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