Fats are an essential macronutrient a human body needs to stay healthy and to sustain life. Next to glucose, fats are also a source of energy in the form of stored for the body. The vital organs inside the body are protected by fats, which serves as a cushion. Even the tissues are insulated by them. Both animals and plants provide a good source of this nutrient. However, the plants are the best source for what they have is the good fats.
Classified between saturated and unsaturated, fats have a molecule composed of hydrogen atoms. These hydrogen atoms are attached to carbon atoms within the carbon chain. Fats are said to be saturated, if all open spaces within the fat molecule are filled with hydrogenated atoms. Conversely, unsaturated fats are those which maintain 1 or 2 empty spaces that are unfilled by hydrogenated atoms on the molecule in a carbon atom chain.
From unsaturated fats come two sub-types, the polyunsaturated fats which have more than 1 empty space and the monounsaturated fats, which contain only 1 empty space. The MUFAs shall be the subject of this article.
Also called as monounsaturated fatty acids, the MUFAs are collected from plants such as the canola, olive, nuts, avocados, flaxseed, grapeseed, tea seed, and more. Indeed, fats, in the form of oils, and derived from plants are the healthy types. A look on its appearance, one could say that it will flow smoothly on whatever surface it is spread onto. When consumed into the body, MUFAs do not clog the arteries. When they are used as raw on salad dressings, they do not linger like mud or ooze would do. MUFAs spread and flow freely.
An explanation to this is the shape of their molecule curved. The curved molecule contains negative charges that rebuff one another. Since they cannot tolerate each other, they can never be unified. And so they flow. Inside a room temperature, MUFAs do not alter their state; unlike the saturated fats which turn solid, the MUFAs remain to be in liquid form.
In addition, they have a lower melting point compared to the unsaturated fats, but definitely, higher than the melting point of the polyunsaturated fats. This means that MUFAs are not ideal to use in cooking, especially when it requires higher temperature. The outcome would be useless oil as MUFAs easily get damaged. Besides salad dressings, MUFAs are used as sauce or seasonings in other foods prepared raw.
The MUFAs are further classified into various groups based on the number of carbon atoms they have, and the position of the double carbon bonds. A few examples of MUFAs are Cis-Vaccenic Acid, Oleic Acid, and Palmitoleic Acid.
In Cis-Veccenic Acid, the fats have 18 carbon atoms. Its first double carbon bond appears 7 carbon atoms away from the methyl type at the end of the chain. The Oleic Acid has its first double carbon bond to be 9 carbon atoms away from the methyl at the end of the chain, while their carbon atoms are 18. On the other hand, the Palmitoleic acid are composed of 16 carbon atoms, and their first double carbon bond appears at least 7 carbon atoms away from the methyl at the end of the chain.
Fats are not what everyone thought they were. After several clinical studies, researchers confirmed that healthy fats such as the MUFAs are beneficial to people.