The reason it's called saturated fat is because it it fully saturated with hydrogen. But might there be a better label? What if calling it "saturated fat" has had a major influence on how people perceive what it actually is? Think about it...
What would most people think of? Fat sitting in a pool of grease... (as in "Saturated" with grease?) I think this is why people are so quick to accept the idea that saturated fat is terrible for you and clogs your arteries. The mental image that the name itself induces is likely not positive.
Might the world's view of the fat types be radically amended if we had chosen to name it something more understandable?
Saturated Fat >>> Whole Stable Fat
Monounsaturated Fat >>> Stable Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat >>> Unstable Fat
LOL. Get OUT of my brain, brother. Before viewing your reframing of the fats, I too thought it better to reframe saturated fat as "stable fat"...and low and behold. It's the molecular truth though. The least stable fats are the ones the USDA is pushing. On top of that they are pushing the unstable 6's at a 10:1 ratio over the 3's (for females).
Now we need a name to differentiate the 3's and assign them value as well.
But I LOVE the idea of referring to stearic acid, palmitic acid and the like as stable fatty acids.
It hurts that different food sources contain blends of all them. Agribusiness lobbyists take advantage of that in their PR campaigns.
My organic chem textbook lists corn oil as a source of Omega-3 linolenic fatty acid even though the ratio of Omega 6-linoleic in corn to Omega-3 linolenic is (according to my chem professor) something like 6:1 or 9:1 (can't remember exactly). It's easy to confuse and cloud the facts for an army of future health care professionals...never mind the consumers.
We definitely need to change the common terms applied to fats to help simplify them so that people can understand what is healthy and what is a health risk.
Great post. +1
Not really. I think the reason those words have those connotations to begin with is because we start learning pretty much as soon as we can read that saturated fat is awful, unsaturated fat is good. If conventional dietary advice was "avoid polyunsaturated ("bad") fats and use saturated ("good") fats as much as possible" then our perception would be different.
While I disagree that "saturated" has negative connotations apart from the ones conferred on it by fatphobes, I do think "stable" has excellent connotations. I'm definitely going to be using that one.
I never thought a pool of grease, I thought this guy:
It takes a few leaps to get from saturated to a big ol' pool of grease, why not a pool saturated with bunny wabbits or glue? People think saturated fat is unhealthy because for the last handful of decades they have been bombarded with anti-saturated fat propaganda from all sides. It really is like artergycloggingsaturatedfat is one word due to the effort to make it public enemy number one, harbinger of death and doom.
The problem is that extinction of conditioning takes a long time. Apparently you still read it and have a knee-jerk "omg gonna kill me!" before your reason comes in and corrects things. That response is getting weaker and eventually you will be free of it. Ways to speed up the process:
A better alternative to a fringe health community hijacking biochemical terms is to call them by their individual names: palmitic acid, stearic acid, lauric acid, etc. It's also a lot more accurate since they behave differently. I always laugh at people who look at saturated fat from beef and think that it is all the supposedly evil saturated fat. Stearic acid always seems to lower LDL in the short-term. You already know that, many people around here do, but the rest of the world is clueless.
This reminds me too much of the corn industry pushing to rename HFCS to Corn Sugar. I say take "saturated fat" and own it.
But let me clarify: I'm against the motivation of renaming to avoid the baggage, but I am for making the name more meaningful. Looking at my coconut oil and calling it a stable fat makes perfect sense.
I think this points to a much broader and very important part of language - metaphors. This is an area of linguistics that I find very interesting - I also know nearly nothing about it.
"Saturated" is but one term that delivers other unwanted (or wanted) connotations. For instance, in America we use a lot of mechanical metaphors to understand things - we "burn" calories as "fuel", hormone receptors work with the hormones like a "lock and key." Or war metaphors - we "fight colds and viruses" or we "battle cancer". While these metaphors offer descriptors and images that help us better understand something that is invisible and complex, they are not correct.
I think we would could do much better in understanding human health (and a lot of things) if we used our language more carefully and more accurately.
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