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Fixing C15:0 Deficiencies Helps Slow Aging

What’s the Difference Between Saturated vs Unsaturated Fatty Acids?

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights

It’s been a strange couple of decades in terms of deciding what is healthy and what isn’t. First, fat was okay; then, it was the enemy. Then carbs were the enemy, and so on. If you’re feeling lost, it’s no wonder why.

Nutrition guidelines are supposed to help us determine how to stay as healthy as possible, but sometimes, even our best efforts can go awry. As science and research evolves, we often realize the measures we had taken to avoid certain health and dietary pitfalls caused us to end up worse off than before. 

Such is the case with fat. We’ll discuss why fat got a bad rap, the difference between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, and what you need to know about having both in your diet. 

What’s So Bad About Fat?

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you probably lived in a fat-free household. In the late 1970s, heart disease among Americans had become the number one killer. Researchers hypothesized that dietary fats were to blame, so the government issued dietary guidelines for millions of Americans, advising them to avoid all fat. 

At the same time, more people were dying of heart disease, and an interesting turn of events was taking place at the grocery store. Convenience foods, like frozen dinners, pre-packaged snacks, cereals, and cakes, were becoming the weary working family’s helper. 

The problem with convenience foods was (and is) that they are typically high in sodium, preservatives, and refined carbohydrates. When dietary guidelines said, no more fat, convenience foods simply removed the fat and replaced it with sugar. 

While the new dietary guidelines were supposed to help us avoid heart disease and live longer, it didn’t work. By the late 1990s, we were sicker than ever. Cases of childhood obesity and diabetes were on the rise, and our waistlines expanded as rapidly as our medical bills. 

Metabolic syndrome became the classic American condition, characterized by:

  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Excess weight around the midsection

These conditions combine to place a person at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke, and the rise of their presence in the American diet came with a much lower total fat intake than we’d had in previous decades. The evidence was clear: avoiding fat wasn’t helping us avoid heart disease or live more healthfully. 

The Difference Between Fats

The truth is, not all fat is bad. Some fats, in fact, are essential for our body to function properly. 

The omega fats (omega 3 and omega 6) were discovered by a husband and wife team in the 1920s. Their research showed that our bodies need omega fatty acids, but can’t make some of them (ALA) on their own. As such, we have to get them from the foods we eat. 

Omega fatty acids are essential for keeping our cells healthy and functioning, but there’s also been much debate as to the exact amounts of the omega fatty acids we need. In fact, too much omega-6 can cause a spike in blood pressure. 

In addition, omega-3 supplements often come with side effects that make them a little less desirable for some people — a fishy aftertaste, thinning of the blood, and possible gastrointestinal discomfort are just a few common experiences. 

So, which fats are good and which fats are bad? Let’s take a look at the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats. We’ll also give a brief overview of trans fats and what role they play in your dietary fat intake. 

Trans Fats

Of all the fats, trans fats are the most detrimental to your health. There are some naturally-occurring trans fats, but most are artificial. 

Naturally occurring trans fats are created in the digestive tracts of some animals. As a result, some animal products (like milk, meat, or butter) may contain trace amounts of these fats. 

Most trans fats are artificial. They were created by companies to increase the shelf life of prepackaged products. These fats are created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils (like corn oil or soybean oil) to make them solids. When these are solidified, they make products more shelf-stable. They’re also commonly found in fried foods. 

The American Heart Association recommends avoiding trans fats or lowering your intake of them as much as possible. These fats raise LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDLcholesterol levels. Trans fatsfood sources include fried foods and many prepackaged snacks, cakes, chips, and foods.

In the past, foods high in trans fats also included shortening and margarine, but as the awareness of these hydrogenated oils and their negative health outcomes have spread in the past decade, manufacturers have worked to reformulate their products to reduce or even eliminate trans fats completely. 

Of all the fats we’ll cover, these are the ones you’d most definitely want to avoid in your diet.

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. They include oils like olive, peanut, and vegetable oil. Unsaturated fats have one or more double or triple bonds between their carbon molecules. 

Unsaturated fats can be broken down into two categories.

  • Monounsaturated fats. These fats contain only one double bond in their molecular structure. Olive oil is an example of monounsaturated fat. 
  • Polyunsaturated fats. These fats contain two or more double bonds in their molecular structure. Sunflower oil is an example of polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated in molecular structure. 

Unsaturated fats have been considered the “good” fats that are okay to have in our diets. Consumed correctly, they can help improve cholesterol and support heart health. 

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are fat molecules that don’t have double bonds between carbon molecules. These fat molecules are “saturated” with hydrogen molecules, which prevents those double bonds. 

Among fats, saturated fats initially got the worst rap, and it’s easy to understand why. Some saturated fats are linked to an increase in bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, inflammation, heart disease, and type II diabetes. But there’s a caveat: not allsaturated fats are bad and recent evidence supports that some are beneficial and even essential for maintaining our health and wellness. 

Just like how unsaturated fats are broken down into two different groups (mono and polyunsaturated fats), saturated fats can be broken down into two separate groups, too:

  • Even-chain saturated fatty acids. Even-chain saturated fatty acids have an even number of carbon atoms. Even-chain saturated fatty acids are associated with the negative health markers that make us avoid saturated fat like increased risk for heart disease, inflammation and type II diabetes. Even-chain saturated fatty acids are found in red meat, full fat dairy, and palm oil. 
  • Odd-chain saturated fatty acids. Odd-chain saturated fatty acids have an odd number of carbon atoms in their molecular structure and are actually associated with positive health markers like balanced immunity, heart health, healthier metabolism, red blood cell health, and liver health. 

Odd-chain saturated fatty acids can be found in the same foods as even-chain saturated fatty acids, which makes it difficult to get the good saturated fatty acids without the bad. 

Considering not saturated fatty acids are bad, it raises the question of how we get more of the good odd-chain saturated fatty acids and less of the bad even chain saturated fats into our diets. 

What About Cholesterol? 

It’s hard to have a conversation about fats without simultaneously talking about cholesterol. The two seem to go hand in hand. For years you’ve probably heard that the more saturated fat you consume, the worse your cholesterol. But now that we have more information about the different types of saturated fats, we can make better decisions. 

Cholesterol readings can be broken down into three parts.

  1. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is known as your “bad” cholesterol. It’s the number on your lipid panel your doctor wants to lower. Ideally, LDL cholesterol should be lower than 100 mg/dL.
  2. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is known as your “good” cholesterol. A measurement of over 40 mg/dL is considered within a healthy range.
  3. Triglycerides.Triglycerides are basically fats in the bloodstream. Higher levels of triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The normal range for triglycerides is less than 150 mg/dL.

Your cholesterol reading can help your healthcare provider determine your risk of developing certain cardiovascular diseases. If you’ve had a lipid panel that was out of the normal range, your doctor may have advised some changes to your diet, including avoiding certain types of fats.

We now know that not all saturated fats are created equal. The bad, even-chain saturated fats are linked to increased heart disease, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes, while the good, odd-chain saturated fats are linked to improvements in our metabolic, heart, liver and immune health.

Fats and Your Weight

By now, most of us understand that eating fat won’t make us overweight, but the type of fats we eat does play a role in our waistlines. 

Weight gain happens as a result of excess calorie consumption and not enough physical activity to make up for the excess calories. The source of the calories (whether they come from fats, carbohydrates, or protein) matters less in terms of your risk factor for becoming overweight. 

However, triglyceride levels become higher when you consume excess dietary fat that the body doesn’t need. Triglycerides are generally used for fuel, but if your cells don’t need the fuel, the excess gets stored in adipose tissue. 

Being overweight places you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. A heart-healthy weight is considered having a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9

There are numerous health benefits of keeping your weight in this range, including:

  • Decreased risk of obesity
  • Lower risk of developing coronary heart disease
  • Less likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Healthier blood pressure levels

Losing weight can be a challenge, but choosing a low-fat diet isn’t necessarily the option that will help you achieve your goals. Choosing healthy fats can help keep your belly full and help you stay successful on your weight loss journey.

Should You Eat More Saturated Fat?

We’ll admit, that’s a loaded question. Because saturated fatty acids (both odd-chain and even- chain) are often found in the same foods, getting the good, odd-chain saturated fatty acids without the bad even-chain saturated fatty acids can be challenging. In fact, you might decide to just avoid saturated fats altogether. 

However, a growing body of research suggests that a newly discovered as essential odd-chain saturated fatty acid called C15:0 is a key nutrient that our bodies need to maintain our health. Additionally, C15:0 is the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered since the omegas, over 90 years ago.† 

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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How We Know C15:0 is Important for Our Health

It all started by improving the health and longevity of dolphins. Thats right, dolphins! Researchers discovered that a population of dolphins fed a diet with higher levels of C15:0 had less age-related illness than a population of dolphins receiving a diet involving C15:0-deficient fish.† 

This discovery led them to study how C15:0 could benefit the human body. After many years of research and a growing body of peer-reviewed scientific publications, science supports that C15:0 can improve our cellular and whole body health. Here's how:†* 

  • C15:0 helps protect cells by digging into cell membranes and strengthening cell walls, keeping them sturdy and protecting them from damage and external stressors. 
  • C15:0 bolsters mitochondrial function, which naturally declines with age. When the mitochondria in our cells begins to slow down, our cellular function slows, and processes in our bodies slow, too. C15:0 supports mitochondrial function, improving it by up to 45%. 
  • C15:0 even supports mind and body health, binding to receptors in the brain and body that control immunity, mood, sleep, and appetite. Interaction with these receptors (called PPARs) can help you maintain a healthy weight, regulate your mood, sleep better, and bring your immunity back into balance. 

It gets better. Science supports that C15:0 can reverse cellular aging. 

Here’s a closer look at what C15:0 does inside your cells:*

  • Clears damaged cells. Damaged cells can create congestion and cause systems to experience dysfunction. By activating the enzyme AMPK, a housekeeping enzyme in your cells, C15:0 helps clear away the damage to keep things tidy. 
  • Regulating a healthy inflammatory response. When we experience inflammation, proinflammatory cytokines are present. These molecules are some of the key drivers in aging, especially in our cells. C15:0 calms and lowers these molecules, helping to balance the body’s inflammatory response.
  • Repairing energy pathways. By repairing damaged mitochondria and increasing their ability to function correctly, C15:0 helps restore the energy pathways our cells rely on.
  • Increasing cellular energy output. ATP is the energy currency of your cells. The mitochondria make ATP and shuttle it to other organelles inside the cell so they can carry out their functions. In some studies, C15:0 increased ATP levels by 350%.
  • Restores balance in the body. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps bring back homeostasis to functions like glucose uptake (important for blood sugar regulation) and immunity. 

These benefits might make you reconsider your daily dietary intake of odd-chains saturated fatty acids, but there’s just one problem: it’s hard to get the good without the bad. 

We need the good odd-chain saturated fatty acids, but how can we get them without eating the bad, even-chain saturated fatty acids? Because C15:0 is only found in trace amounts of full fat dairy products, like whole milk and butter, it’s to eat enough of those foods to get the C15:0 you need without eating a lot of even-chain saturated fats. 

The solution is FA15™

FA15™ is the pure powder and vegan-friendly form of C15:0 that is free from hitchhiking even-chain saturated fatty acids. FA15™ is currently only available in a supplement form, called fatty15.

Fatty15 is the only supplement to offer you the healthy, essential odd-chain saturated fatty acids your body needs, without any of the even-chain fatty acids you don’t, in a convenient daily capsule.

Unlike other fatty acid supplements you may have taken (like fish oil) fatty15 has zero odor or aftertaste and won’t leave you burping up the evidence of your supplement. 

Fatty15 was found to be much safer for our cells than omega-3 fish oils, which are prone to oxidation and going rancid in the bottle and in our bodies. In fact the only known side effect of taking fatty15 is decreased snacking between meals (though we think it’s more of a benefit than a side effect, especially if you’re counting your daily calories to watch your weight). 

The Bottom Line

Not all fats are bad. In fact, there are even some saturated fats that are essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Odd-chain saturated fatty acid helps your body by protecting you at a cellular level, strengthening your cells and keeping them functioning properly, so your body functions better. 

You can get all the odd-chain saturated fatty acid you need by taking a once-a-day vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, award-winning, supplement called fatty15. 

Fatty15 is the only supplement that contains FA15™ , the pure powder form of C15:0. Taking fatty15 is a great way to increase your health, add good fats to your diet, and give your cells a fighting chance to thrive as you age.* 

Sources:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Types of Fat | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Facts about fat - NHS

Trans Fats | American Heart Association

Aim for a Healthy Weight | NHLBI, NIH

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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