The fat you choose to use in cooking can make the difference between a meal that supports health and a meal that throws off free radicals (thought to be a primary cause of the degeneration we refer to as aging). The higher the cooking heat, the more likely you are to be bombarded with free radicals, set off by breaks in fatty acid chains. There are only a few fats that can defy oxidation and its cousin, rancidity. What’s the determining factor? It’s the stability of the fatty acid chain.
- Saturated fats are the most stable fats because their fatty acid chains are short or medium in length and they contain no double bonds between the atoms of the chains, making those chains secure and stable.
- Monounsaturated fats are long chain fatty acids, but because they have only one double bond in between the atoms of their fatty acid chains, they are able to remain fairly stable.
- Polyunsaturated fats are long chain fats with two or more double bonds between their atoms, making them the least stable of all.
Before we go farther, please note this is not a ‘good’ fat verses ‘bad’ fat article. All naturally-occurring fats are good fats when used correctly, and there is no need for competition.