Fats are organic molecules made up of carbon and hydrogen elements joined together in long chains called hydrocarbons. These molecular shapes of various fats are important, because the shapes determine how the various fats act in the body. Yet humans have likely consumed unprocessed forms of saturated fats (such as organ meats from wild game, blubber from seals and whales, milk, or coconuts) for their entire existence. Early humans (and many hunter-gatherer groups today) consumed all parts of animals — including fatty tissues such as blubber, organs, and brains along with eggs from fish, fowl, and reptiles. Since humans evolved by consuming a diet of whole foods, fat intake from mono-, poly-, and saturated sources was distributed evenly. Much of our omega-6 and saturated fat intake is from refined fat sources, not from whole foods. We need adequate fat to support metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients (such as vitamins A and D).
Fat we consume is digested and either used for energy, stored in adipose (fat) tissue, or incorporated into other body tissues and organs.
Many of our body tissues are lipid (aka fat) based, including our brains and the fatty sheath that insulates our nervous systems. For example, fat can affect signaling molecules that influence blood vessel constriction, inflammation, blood clotting, pain, airway constriction, etc. For this reason, balancing our fat intake can promote optimal functioning of our entire body.
Thus, blood levels of omega-3 fats are typically lower in plant-based eaters than in those who eat meat, so plant-based eaters should be particularly vigilant about proper fat intake.
Once everything is in order with your nutrition and lifestyle, consuming CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) might be another option. CLA resembles LA (linoleic acid) but the structure is slightly different, giving it a different effect in the body. Due to the high prevalence of animal foods and tropical oils (from processed foods) and the low prevalence of whole plant foods in the modern diet, people tend to get too much saturated fat relative to unsaturated fat, and combine these saturated fats with refined carbohydrates. Avoid industrially processed, artificially created, and factory farmed foods, which contain unhealthy fats. In it you’ll learn the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies – unique and personal – for you. As the US population migrated from the farms to the cities, but largely maintained the same diet, the frequency of heart disease increased.
Complete hydrogenation converts healthful unsaturated fats into fully saturated fats, making them entirely equivalent to regular, saturated, animal fat. In recent decades, as more has been learned about the biology of different forms of fats, the story has become much more complicated than it seemed in the 1950's.

It is less clear (and to some researchers, not clear at all) whether saturated fat is responsible for the ailments attributed to it, particularly heart disease. Although nutritional advice gradually moved toward the recommendation that we banish all fat from our diets, there is compelling evidence that some fats are good. Fat-free and low-fat prepared foods typically replace the fat with something else that tastes good to us.
Unfortunately, this is not as straightforward as reading the Nutrition Facts label on the package.
These molecules can be constructed in different ways, which creates different types of fat and their unique properties. Since our brains are fat-based, changes in fat composition can affect transmission of nervous system impulses. Therefore it’s important that we emphasize whole food fat sources in our diets, and supplement as necessary. Palm and coconut also contain medium chain fats, which can support health and optimal body composition.
Accumulated evidence on fish consumption and coronary heart disease mortality: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Fatty fish intake decreases lipids related to inflammation and insulin signaling – a lipidomics approach. Early protection against sudden death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after myocardial infarction: Time-course analysis of the results of the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto Miocardico (GISSI)-Prevenzione. Plasma phosphatidylcholine docosahexaenoic acid content and risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease: the Framingham heart study.
Meat, fish, and colorectal cancer risk: the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition. Addition of omega-3 fatty acid to maintenance medication treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive disorder.
Dose-ranging study of the effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoate in patients with ongoing depression despite apparently adequate treatment with standard drugs.
Achieving optimal essential fatty acid status in vegetarians: current knowledge and practical implications.
Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in plasma in British meat-eating, vegetarian, and vegan men. Protective effect of docosahexaenoic acid on oxidative stress-induced apoptosis of retina photoreceptors. Effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids on the composition of long-and very-long-chain polyenoic fatty acid in rat retina.
Biological safety assessment of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in a randomized clinical trial for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa.

Effect of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation on retinal function in a patient with autosomal dominant Stargardt-like retinal dystrophy. Effects of dietary polyunsaturated n-3 fatty acids on dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance in rodents and humans. Fish consumption, n-3 fatty acids, and colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.
Intake of very long chain n-3 fatty acids from fish and the incidence of heart failure: the Rotterdam Study. The preventable causes of death in the United States: Comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors. Essential fatty acids and their metabolites could function as endogenous HMG-CoA reductase and ACE enzyme inhibitors, anti-arrhythmic, anti-hypertensive, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, cytoprotective, and cardioprotective molecules. Considering the Contribution of US Agricultural Policy to the Obesity Epidemic: Overview and Opportunities. This was linked to the consumption of large amounts of animal fat -- cooking with lard, frying eggs and toast in bacon grease, etc.
These were thought to be healthier, but their cooking properties were different from those of solid animal fat.
Natural unsaturated fatty acids are in configuration that is called cis, but partial hydrogenation can flip the chemical bonds into a different configuration that is called trans. Other possibilities may not have been entirely ruled out, but it was logical, and so began the campaign against animal fat. To modify them so that they could be used in similar ways to animal fats, food chemists used -- and still used -- the process of of hydrogenation. The difference between cis and trans is that the two H atoms are on the same side of the double bond (cis), compared to being on opposite sides (trans).
Because of this chemical configuration, saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature.
In this process, hydrogen is combined with the unsaturated plant oils, converting some of the molecules into saturated fats. Therefore, a trans-fatty acid is structurally similar to a saturated fatty acid (which has no kinks, either).
These have their own health problems when consumed in large amounts, as it typical of the Western Diet. The kinks in the molecules determine whether the material is solid or liquid at room temperature.

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