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Should I cook saturated fats and eat unsaturated fats raw?

I already asked this question in “Diet & Fitness”.;_ylt=AsIgCkrL0BWf0vzdsmEUajzsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20080803142943AARa5SC I got a less than satisfactory response, perhaps because it got bombed off the front page fairly quickly by people asking “how to loose weight fast?”

Honestly they need to take all the “best answers” to the many variants of that question and just have one big “best answer” throwdown. And then just sticky that to the front page.

Anyways this is a good problem for all you chemists out there, so I don’t feel wrong tranplanting this.
Actually Ronald I already knew that although some saturated fats and some unsaturated fats are included in almost any food, the reliable rule of thumb is that animal fats have more saturated fat, with fish being the exception, and vegetables have more unsaturated fats, with coconut oil and palm oil being the exceptions, while trans fats do not occur naturally. This goes not just for foods that are used as cooking fats such as vegetable oils, butters, and rendered fats, but in general.

I just did what I should have done earlier by looking up the nutritional information of various foods somewhat empirically. The trans fat levels for virtually all food is too small to be mentioned (<1 gram). However I'm not really persuaded by that, because I not sure even very small amounts of trans fats should called "negligible". To my thinking the information just wasn't enough to make a comparison. The obvious exception of course is hydrogenated oils about 20% of whose fats ars trans.

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4 Responses to “Should I cook saturated fats and eat unsaturated fats raw?”

  1. mrwizard9090 said :

    how about moderation in everything?

    cooking will change the chemical structure of any fat. a lot of the changes will be based on time and temperature. the implicit health question also depends on the fats themselves.

    generally speaking, i don’t believe that cooking an unsaturated fat will saturate it, while it might unsaturate a saturated fat.

    don’t bet the heart attack on it.

  2. brokenipoduser said :

    Well, there is no concrete answer to this.

    Should i cook saturated fats? Do you buy saturated fats at the store?
    Saturated and unsaturated fats are in a lot of food types and your body needs them.

    The core answer here is that it makes no difference anyhow, saturated fats are harder for your body to break down, whether you cook them or not it makes no difference, unsaturated fats are just a nicer term to say saturated fats. fats are fats, and if you eat too much, they will in fact make you fat.

    I recommend you don’t worry about this for now, instead count your calories, 2000 calories a day ingested is what you need given you’re an office worker in average. If you’re a construction worker maybe you’ll need up to 3000 perhaps more, read the back label and avoid foods that contain too many calories or fats.

    Eat tuna, chicken breast and lentils for proteins, also egg white.

  3. RONALD E B said :

    I wonder how you will separate the unsaturated fats from the saturated. For example:
    Raw chicken fryers: 5 g saturated fatty acids and 9 grams unsaturated fatty acids per 100 g edible portion
    Round steak (beef), separable lean, raw: 2 g saturated fatty acids and 2 grams unsaturated fatty acids per 100 g edible portion
    Cheddar cheese: 18 grams saturated fatty acids and 12 grams unsaturated fatty acids per 100 grams.
    Corn oil: 10 grams saturated fatty acids and 82 grams unsaturated fatty acids per 100 grams

    Cooking has negligble effect on the saturated or unsaturated fatty acids that compose fats.

  4. Roger S said :

    The main reason humans have been cooking food for millenia is the proteins in large herbivors are slightly toxic if eaten raw. Humans evolved from apes which hunted small animals and also scavenged the kills of large preditors. These apes used stones to break the bones to get at the marrow and brains. These items are high in saturated fats and can easily be eaten raw. There is a theory this high fat diet helped the apes evolve human sized brains. Humans themselves began hunting and began to cook their food.once they had aquired a means of killing animals many times their size. Most of these items were the ancestors of cattle, cammels and large antelope. It is noteworthy that humans can still eat small animals uncooked. The other items on our ape ancestor’s menu were birds and fish, all of which can be eaten raw. Besides rats, carp and pigeons, pigs can also be eaten raw. This is because pigs are so similar to humans in terms of biochemistry. Of course we can eat each other with no need to cook ourselves, too.

    What cooking does is change the conformation of the proteins in animal tissue. Proteins have a complex, 3 dimensional structure, and cooking provides enough heat to rearrange the intramolecular bonds to deform the proteins in the muscle tissue of beef and mutton. These proteins would otherwise be toxic in large quantities. However the blood proteins of these animals are non-toxic when uncooked. The Zulu of Africa are a herding tribe which subsist largly on the milk and blood of their cattle. Heat also affects carbohydrates. Sugars decompose into grains of carbon. It is what makes carmel and bread crust brown. This adds a smoky taste which humans find appealing.

    Besides proteins and carbohydrates, foods contain fats. There are two kinds of fats, both perfectly edible to humans uncooked. (Native Americans in arctic regions eat raw seal and whale blubber as an important calorie source. Brains and bone marrow are also very high in fat). The basis of fat classification has to do with the chemical structure of the fat molecules. Fats consist of a molecule of glycerin and three fatty acids. fatty acids in turn are composed of long chains of carbon atoms linked together. Each carbon is typically linked by a single bond, but sometimes there are double bonds involved in the chain. Fats with only single bonds are termed “saturated” and those with double bonds are “unsaturated”. Saturated fats are usually from animals. Lard and suet are examples. They are solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are typically vegetable oils, like linseed oil, palm oil and olive oil. They are liquid at room temperature.

    Neither type of fat needs to be cooked to be eaten, although both are used quite a lot in cooking. One problem with unsaturated fats is oxidation. The double bonds are unstable and oxygen can cause unsaturated fats to decompose. This is one of the principals of oil painting. Linseed oil paints will harden into a kind of hard, waterproof varnish as the oil oxidizes. With vegetable oils, the oxidation imparts an unpleasant, heavy taste to unsaturated oils. This process speeds up under high heat and is why fry cooks have to constantly change their cooking oil.

    One thing vegetable oil has never been very good at is making decent biscuits and pie crusts. Lard and suet are the best choices here. Unfortunately, any animal based product is many times the price of vegetable oils. Then, around 1930, it was discovered that heating vegetable oil in an atmosphere of pure Hydrogen gas in a nickel coated cooker caused some of the double bonds to become single. This was the first “trans-fat” and was called “Crisco.” It had all the nice properties of suet in that it made great buiscuits, was wonderful for frying and didn’t get rancid.

    50 years later it was discovered that trans fats were poorly metabolized by humans. Having been made in a labratory, these “franken_fats” were essentially edible plastic. However by this point in time, trans fats were being heavily used in the food industry. “Junk food” manufacturers especially relied on them, since most snack foods are deep fat fried. Easily available, salty snack food saturated in synthetic fats and high calorie soft drinks high in corn syrup added a lot of Sodium and extra calories to the western diet. The result was obesity, heart disease, diabetes, strokes and hypertension.

    Humans are fortunate by being “super omnivores” able to eat just about anything. The major lifestyle change is the automobile and which meant a lot less walking. This, coupled with unhealthy, processed foods is the major cause of dietary indused illnesses. The best way to loose weight is simply exercise more and eat less. try and cook your own food, instead of relying on something “processed”. Yes, it is convienient, but everyone eventually suffers the consequences of laziness.

    IMHO: It is said an Englishman’s dog eats better than his masters. The British are not renouned for their cooking. The Americans then took sloppy British cooking and mechanized it. Too bad the French didn’t colonize the east coast first.


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