The Definitive Guide to Saturated Fatty Acids

saturated fatty acidsI’ve written guides to fat in general, animal fats in particular, and edible oils as nicely. I’ve written a definitive guide to saturated fat. However what are these fat, precisely? Right this moment, I’m writing the Definitive Guide to Saturated Fatty Acids—a information to all the person fatty acids that make up the saturated fat we eat, retailer, and burn.

I received’t cowl each single saturated fatty acid in existence. A few of them don’t play any important position in human well being or weight loss program. Like cerotic acid, which seems primarily in beeswax. Or arachidic acid, which you will get by hydrogenating arachidonic acid or consuming a ton of durian. There are a number of extra that aren’t very related.

I’ll as an alternative cowl an important ones.

However First, a Phrase about Saturated Fatty Acids…

Saturated fat have all out there carbon bonds paired with hydrogen atoms, making them extremely steady and resistant to oxidation and rancidity—even when heated. That’s why our our bodies have a tendency to construct mobile membranes with a good portion of saturated fat. They supply stability and a robust basis.

Caproic Acid, Caprylic Acid and Capric Acid

I included these collectively as a result of their names come from the Latin phrase for “goat,” and all three are discovered most famously in goat milk—they run about 15% of goat milk fats. Capric acid can be present in coconut oil (10% of coconut fats) and palm oil (4% of palm fats).

The “goat” fat are what give goat milk its distinctive “goaty” odors. Come to consider it, I’ve had coconut oil that had a “funk” to it, and I guess the capric/caprylic acid was to blame. But when you will get previous the goatiness, there are advantages to these fatty acids.

Greatest sources: goat milk, coconut oil, palm oil.

Lauric Acid

One other medium-chain triglyceride, lauric acid is the first fatty acid in coconut fats (40-50% lauric acid) and palm kernel fats. It additionally seems in human breast milk (about 6.2% of complete fats).

  • Lauric acid is anti-microbial. That’s why it seems in breast milk—to assist infants push back pathogens whereas their immune techniques are nonetheless growing. And it’s in all probability why people report eliminating foot and toenail fungus by smearing their toes with coconut oil at night time.
  • Lauric acid reduces starvation. In a single study, individuals who had lauric acid shot immediately into their guts ate much less meals than the individuals who had oleic acid shot in.
  • While you eat lauric acid, a few of it’s transformed into monolaurin, a stronger compound (each coconut oil and breast milk additionally comprise some monolaurin immediately) with anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties.
  • Lauric acid is just not as immediately ketogenic because the “goaty” medium-chain triglycerides.

Greatest sources: coconut fats, palm kernel fats, breast milk.

Myristic Acid

Myristic acid is a perplexing one. Some research discover that its presence within the blood indicates metabolic issues, whereas, as you’ll see beneath, within the weight loss program it will probably have some good results and play some necessary roles.

What’s occurring? Why the discrepancies?

  1. Some within the weight loss program is manner higher than none. An excessive amount of greater than 1-2% of energy (about 10% of energy from dairy fats), and the advantages begin dropping and even reversing. Nonetheless, that “1-2%” restrict was within the context of a higher-carb weight loss program. If you happen to’re decrease carb, you’ll be able to in all probability profit from greater intakes.
  2. Myristic acid within the blood isn’t a lot “harmful” as it’s indicative of metabolic dysfunction. As an example, probably the most dependable manner to scale back blood ranges of myristic acid is to scale back your carbohydrate consumption.

Greatest sources: nutmeg butter (don’t eat that and go driving, although; nutmeg is downright psychoactive), coconut fats, palm kernel oil, milk fat, breast milk.

Stearic Acid

Stearic acid is having fun with a little bit of a renaissance currently. Individuals are mixing remoted stearic acid into clarified butter to create a “super-stearic butter.” Why?

  • Stearic acid is among the saturated fat that even SFA-phobes admit has a neutral effect on levels of cholesterol. If something it boosts HDL.
  • Dietary stearic acid appears to cause “fusing” of our mitochondria—the ability vegetation of our cells—and improve fatty acid oxidation shortly after consumption. In different phrases, it’s a potent increase to our skill to generate power.
  • Diets primarily based on both crimson meat or cheese—two meals excessive in stearic acid—improve metabolic and blood markers.

It’s getting actually robust to deny the advantages of stearic acid.

Greatest sources: cocoa butter, beef fats (steer/stearic), dairy, lard.

Palmitic Acid

Palmitic acid will get a horrible rap. In examine after examine, we discover palmitic acid doing unhealthy issues to our cells and our well being markers. And if you douse cells in pure palmitic acid, they have a tendency to undergo and even die. This seems to be actually unhealthy.

As an example, palmitic acid lowers expression of the LDL receptor gene. Much less LDL receptor exercise, extra time for LDL to hang around within the bloodstream and trigger hassle. That’s not good.

Or the truth that palmitic acid is poisonous to skeletal muscle cells, impairing glucose uptake and growing insulin resistance.

Or that palmitic acid induces inflammation and disrupts insulin signaling, suggestive of diabetes. We don’t need diabetes, we don’t need coronary heart illness, and we like our muscle cells to perform, so we must always in all probability cease consuming any palmitic acid, proper?

Besides a modicum of oleic acid stimulates LDL receptor activity. And arachidonic acid, a polyunsaturated fats present in animal merchandise usually alongside palmitic acid, prevents cell toxicity. And eventually, for those who throw in a bit oleic acid alongside that “inflammatory” palmitic acid, you obliterate the inflammation.

Okay, however what about serum palmitic acid being a harbinger of metabolic dysfunction? Straightforward. While you overeat sugar and there’s nowhere to put it and you’ll’t burn it, the liver converts any additional into palmitic acid to be saved. Elevated palmitic acid is a marker of consuming too many carbohydrates (and meals basically).

Greatest sources: dairy fats, ruminant fats, palm oil.

What does all of it imply?

Despite the fact that at present’s submit was concerning the particular person saturated fatty acids, we very not often eat particular person fatty acids. As an alternative, we’re consuming fat that comprise a half dozen fatty acids or extra, or meals that comprise fat that comprise a half dozen fatty acids. We aren’t cooking with lauric acid or sprinkling pure palmitic acid within the pan. We’re consuming meals. And, as a part of the meals matrix, all of the saturated fatty acids I’ve examined have necessary and legitimate roles to play.

In order for you to keep away from palmitic acid however welcome stearic acid, guess what? You’re gonna have to craft some Frankenstein-fat. Meals that comprise stearic acid additionally comprise palmitic acid. The finest sources of lauric acid are additionally fairly excessive in stearic, palmitic, and myristic acid. And so it goes. You may’t keep away from palmitic acid and solely eat lauric and stearic acid whereas consuming precise meals.

When you have any questions, drop them down beneath.

Thanks for studying, everybody!


Wlaz P, Socala Okay, Nieoczym D, et al. Acute anticonvulsant effects of capric acid in seizure tests in mice. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2015;57:110-6.

Huang CB, Alimova Y, Myers TM, Ebersole JL. Short- and medium-chain fatty acids exhibit antimicrobial activity for oral microorganisms. Arch Oral Biol. 2011;56(7):650-4.

Feltrin KL, Little TJ, Meyer JH, et al. Comparative effects of intraduodenal infusions of lauric and oleic acids on antropyloroduodenal motility, plasma cholecystokinin and peptide YY, appetite, and energy intake in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(5):1181-7.

Intorre F, Venneria E, Finotti E, et al. Fatty acid content of serum lipid fractions and blood lipids in normolipidaemic volunteers fed two types of cheese having different fat compositions: a pilot study. Int J Meals Sci Nutr. 2013;64(2):185-93.

Gutiérrez-garcía AG, Contreras CM, Díaz-marte C. Myristic acid in amniotic fluid produces appetitive responses in human newborns. Early Hum Dev. 2017;115:32-37.

Chen X, Zhao X, Deng Y, Bu X, Ye H, Guo N. Antimicrobial potential of myristic acid against Listeria monocytogenes in milk. J Antibiot. 2019;72(5):298-305.

Prior IA, Davidson F, Salmond CE, Czochanska Z. Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau island studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981;34(8):1552-61.

Hunter JE, Zhang J, Kris-etherton PM. Cardiovascular disease risk of dietary stearic acid compared with trans, other saturated, and unsaturated fatty acids: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(1):46-63.

Thorning TK, Raziani F, Bendsen NT, Astrup A, Tholstrup T, Raben A. Diets with high-fat cheese, high-fat meat, or carbohydrate on cardiovascular risk markers in overweight postmenopausal women: a randomized crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):573-81.

Mustad VA, Ellsworth JL, Cooper AD, Kris-etherton PM, Etherton TD. Dietary linoleic acid increases and palmitic acid decreases hepatic LDL receptor protein and mRNA abundance in young pigs. J Lipid Res. 1996;37(11):2310-23.

Wen H, Gris D, Lei Y, et al. Fatty acid-induced NLRP3-ASC inflammasome activation interferes with insulin signaling. Nat Immunol. 2011;12(5):408-15.


In regards to the Creator

Mark Sisson is the founding father of Mark’s Day by day Apple, godfather to the Primal meals and life-style motion, and the New York Occasions bestselling creator of The Keto Reset Weight loss program. His newest ebook is Keto for Life, the place he discusses how he combines the keto weight loss program with a Primal life-style for optimum well being and longevity. Mark is the creator of quite a few different books as nicely, together with The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the expansion of the primal/paleo motion again in 2009. After spending three many years researching and educating of us on why meals is the important thing part to attaining and sustaining optimum wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food firm that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Entire30-friendly kitchen staples.

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