The World Around Us

Chemicals in Food

What’s the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats?

The terms saturated and unsaturated refer directly the to the chemistry definition of unsaturation. Unsaturated fats contain carbon-carbon double bonds (units of unsaturation), while saturated fats have only completely saturated carbon chains. Saturated fats (like butter and lard) stack together well in the solid state, so they are generally solid at room temperature. The double bonds in unsaturated fats disrupt this lattice in the solid state, making these types of fats (like olive oil and vegetable oil) liquid at room temperature.


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