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The FAT Project




Authors: Ed, Nick, Christina, Rob, Katarina



A research project designed to educate and inform individuals about different kinds of fat, their effect on people, and their purpose in our day-to-day lives.


Quick Navigation:




 “Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells.”



About Cholesterol in General

     Cholesterol occurs naturally in humans and other animals. Most of it is produced by the body (the liver and other cells make 75%); the rest is taken in through food (25%). Cholesterol is used to create cell membranes in all animal cells. It is used by the liver to create digestive acids (bile). Cholesterol is also used to create female and male sex hormones. An animal’s cell membrane is the casing around a cell. (Plants also have cell walls over their cell membranes, made of cellulose (Glucose chain) and therefore more rigid)

Cholesterol is a natural part of the body, however too much of it leads to a high risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. An elevated level of blood cholesterol is called Hypercholesterolemia. [1][21][22]

 Chemistry of Cholesterol

     Being a lipid, Cholesterol has a similar chemical composition as fats. However, Cholesterol is a steroid, its  Hydrocarbon Chain (chain made of carbons and hydrogens) is bent into four rings. The rings are normally arranged in Three 6carbon rings and One 5carbon ring. It is also characterized by an alcohol group, making it a sterol. (Chole – Sterol) [1][2]




Sbrools, wikipedia.org  (The alcohol group in red) |  Cholesterol - upload.wkimedia.org


Molecules with polar parts like the hydroxl group in cholesterol normally dissolve. However since cholesterol has a large section that is mainly hydrogens and carbons (nonpolar), Cholesterol cannot fully mix in the blood. Cholesterol must first be combined with a protein within the liver, creating a Lipoprotein. Lipoproteins then carry cholesterol through the blood. [24]

Good and Bad Cholesterol

     Blood cholesterol is often broken up in to two groups, Good and Bad cholesterol.



Bad Cholesterol

The bad cholesterol is LDL, Low Density Lipoprotein. The good cholesterol is referred to as HDL, or High Density Lipoprotein. LDL is considered ‘Bad’ cholesterol because it may clog arteries, increasing one’s risk for heart attack and stroke. Buildup of LDL and other substances inside artery walls creates plaque, a hard substance that narrows and hardens arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis. Clots resulting from narrowed arteries cause heart attacks and strokes.

http://www.americanheart.org/images/ImagePicker/25061-inter-full.jpg --- used without permission T.T


Eating saturated or Trans fats, or dietary cholesterol will increase blood LDL. Some people inherit the tendency for their body to produce more cholesterol than normal.



Good Cholesterol

Good Cholesterol, HDL, makes up about 25 – 33 percent of the body’s total cholesterol. HDL is called good cholesterol because it is speculated to remove plaque from arteries and carry excess cholesterol back to the liver. Low levels of this type of Cholesterol factors into a higher risk of heart disease. [22][23]

Cheerios and Cholesterol

     Cheerios.com claims that Cheerios cereal will lower cholesterol because:

  • People who eat cheerios do not eat as much fat or cholesterol during the day.
  • Soluble fiber in a lowfat diet reduce cholesterol
  • “Cheerio Man” = Soluble fiber from whole grain oats ‘form a gel in your digestive system, which may bind cholesterol and take it out of the body.’


Soluble fiber works against cholesterol (specifically bad cholesterol) by reducing your intestine’s absorption of it. According to Mayoclinic.com, 10 grams of soluble fiber a day from foods such as oats and oatmeal will reduce total, and LDL cholesterol. [25]


Cholesterol Treatments


Lipitor is a cholesterol reducing drug that  works by subsiding the bad cholesterol in the body. Lipitor is a statin, which is a classification of a drug that helps reduce levels of fat, which include triglycerides and cholesterol. The body makes cholesterol by producing enzymes, and lipitor blocks the cholesterol producing statins in the liver. This has been proven to reduce the "bad" type of cholesterol from 30 - 60%.





Fat As a Whole:

     Fats consist of a carboxyl group compound (-COOH) on one end and a couple, generally 3, hydrocarbon chains.  Below is a diagram of a fat molecule. The first two hydrocarbon chains are saturated, meaning that they are filled up with all of the hydrogens they can possibly hold. The bottom hydrocarbon chain is unsaturated, meaning that there is room for more hydrogens in it.


Types of Fats:


Saturated Fat is fat that is filled with as many hydrogens as it can hold, meaning that they are hydrogenated. The hydrocarbon chains have no double bonds, and do not bend at any point. These kind of fats are found in dairy products as well as animal fat. Saturated fat is harmful to your body because it raises LDL (bad cholesterol) and depletes HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.


Unsaturated Fat is fat with one or more double bonds in its hydrocarbon chains, leaving bond space where more hydrogens could fit. This causes a bend in the chain. They are found in plant oils, fish, nuts and seeds. Unsaturated fats do exactly the opposite of what saturated fats do, by lowering LDL and increasing HDL in the bloodstream. This helps lower your overall cholesterol level. Monounsaturated Fats are unsaturated fats with only one double bond, or "kink," in the hydrocarbon chain, whereas Polyunsaturated Fats have multiple kinks.


     Trans Fats, or trans fatty acids, are found in margarine, shortening and some cooking oils, called partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. They are also found in small quantities in dairy products and animal fat. Trans fats are generally considered to be the most unhealthy of fats because they do exactly what saturated fat does to a greater extent. They are the result of hydrogenation, a process that take vegetable oil and hydrogen gas and puts them under pressure, along with a metal catalyst, most often nickel. This causes the liquid fat in the vegetable oil to become hydrogenated, that is, have its double bonds filled with hydrogens. As a result, the fat is no longer a liquid, but a solid at room temperature. This also destroys all of the essential fatty acids, like Omega-3 and Omega-6. Trans fats are also used in packaged products to increase shelf life and are present in many fast food products.


  Body Mass Index (BMI) and Obesity 



BMI is used as a tool for people to know if they are at risk for health problems because of weight. It helps determine risks in heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It also can be used as a warning for people who are slighty overweight.  


BMI is a guide that helps others determine someone's fat in relation to height. It does not measure how much fat there is in the body, but it compares height in relation to weight. We use it as an outline because there are many inconsistencies with this system. If someone has heavier bones or more muscle mass, according to this system they would be overweight.






Obese and Overweight

     Obesity and overweight are two commonly used terms to describe a weight which is higher than average. Being overweight describes a body mass index (BMI) which can range from 25.0 - 29.0, once a weight has exceeded this amount, one is considered to be obese. Generally, one with a BMI of 30.0 or above is obese. Once a weight is considered to be overweight or even obese, serious health risks begin to emerge.


There are many reasons for people to be overweight or suffer from obesity. One new epidemic has been fat additions. Fat addiction has been a recent issue in the United States. As obesity has proved to be a growing issue, fat addition has been doing the same. A fat addition can be blamed on opioids, a chemical in the brain which is also reponsible for many drug and alcohol addictions as well. Once consuming foods with high fat concentration, opioids are released from the brain. In some, more opioids are released with foods and fatty foods in particular, which therefore cause an addition.



Relationship Between Child & Adult Obesity

     In a review done by Michael Goran, a PhD Professor of Preventative Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, he concluded that higher levels of BMI (body mass index) could predict overweight later in life. Information from several studies showed that the probability of being overweight at 35 years of age for children with BMI in the 85th to 95th percentiles increased with increasing age. Goran decided that the "persistence of pediatric obesity into adulthood increases according to the age at which obesity is initially present."

     Likewise in a Japanese study, approximately 1/3 of obese children grew into obese adults. The risk of adult obesity in both an obese and non-obese child is still great as long as one parent is obese. These studies may provide evidence for genetic contribution to obesity, but most likely points to a family life where there is a lack of physical activity and an increase of food supply and caloric intake.

Effects of Fat


Why Fat Tastes Good


According to Richard Mattes, professor of foods and nutrition, people can taste fat, which means the ability to do so is the sixth basic taste sense.  This would be in addition to the other five tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.



Why Fat is Unhealthy


     Fat is bad for people because when a person intakes a high amount of fat, it can increase both the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver and the amount of cholesterol in your blood.  Saturated fats are worse than unsaturated and will lead to higher cholesterol amounts. 

     The bad fats are saturated and trans fats.  They increase the risk of certain diseases.  Whereas the good fats—monousaturated and polyunsaturated—lower the risk.

The Necessity of Fat

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition dietary fat is necessary for the absorption of nutrients from fruits and vegetables.  Avoiding fats can lead to chronic diseases. Fats play a major role in the functioning of the body.  They waterproof the skin, insulate the body, provide an energy store, build cell membranes, they are a major component of many hormones, and they maintainn some of the major systems within the body.




Fat in Food



Fish Oil

Fish contain unsaturated fatty acids that are healthy and not as bad for you as red meat.  Fish oil is a dietary source of omega-3 fatty acid.  Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid.  These acids can help prevent heart disease, maintain optimum blood pressure and cholesterol levels and give almost immediate relief from joint pain, migraines, and depression. It is also used for improving brain development and memory functioning.


Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids


Butter and Margarine


What's the difference?



     Butter is made from cream, and by law, has a "butterfat" content of anywhere from 80-85%. The remaining 20% is water, milk solids, and salt. Churned butter is almost entirely made up of saturated fat and natural cholesterol. Margarine is made from vegetable oil, typically made from corn oil or soybean oil. At room temperature, vegetable oils are unsaturated liquids.

     But, through a process colled hydrogenation (adding hydrogens to the oil), it becomes a saturated solid at room temperature. After this process, margarine contains no cholesterol and little saturated fat. Margarine, like butter, is made up of 80% fat, but has additional additives such as vitamins, salt, artificial coloring, and preservatives. Butter and margarine also differ in shelf life.

     Butter must be kept refridgerated to stay fresh for several days, whereas margarine, although needing to be refridgerated, can stay fresh for a longer period of time.




Hydrogenation in margarine (adding hydrogens to the oil)


Purpose of Margarine

     Margarine has a healthier effect on the body than butter does. Margarine contains no cholesterol and very little saturated fats. In cardiovascular disease, both of these things can be harmful. High levels of cholesterol can lead to hardening of the arteries, heart disease, strokes, and other cardiovascular health issues. Foods with saturated fats raise the level of cholesterol, leading to the those same problems. The majority of saturated fats come from animal sources, including dairy products. By replacing butter, a dairy product, with a similarly-tasting margarine, it reduces these risks.


The product of too much cholesterol



[1] The Biology Textbook (proper citation later...)

[2] About.com Chemistry -Steroid definition- http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryglossary/a/steroiddef.htm

[3] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070730.wltrans30/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/home

[4] http://www.umm.edu/features/transfats.htm

[5] http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=63033

[6] http://cholesterol.about.com/cs/faq/f/difference.htm

[7] http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/558hydrogenation.html

[8] http://www.ochef.com/1154.htm

[9] http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-butter-and-margarine.htm

[10] http://www.webexhibits.org/butter/margarine.html

[11] http://www.mamashealth.com/cholest.asp

[12] http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3045790

[13] http://www.unu.edu/unupress/food2/uid09e/uid09e0z.htm

[14] http://www.omega-3.us/

[15] http://news.uns.purdue.edu/UNS/html4ever/011203.Mattes.taste.html

[16] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1124.aspx?CategoryID=51&SubCategoryID=167

[17] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fish-oil/NS_patient-fishoil

[18] http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/

[19] http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v9/n11s/full/oby2001125a.html

[20] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9302300?dopt=Abstract&holding=npg

[21] http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3046103

[22] http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3046105

[23] http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=180

[24] http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/chd/why1.htm

[25] http://www.scientificpsychic.com/fitness/fattyacids.html

[26] http://biology.clc.uc.edu/graphics/bio104/fat.jpg

[27] http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=532

[28] http://labrador.eu/peripheral_vascular_disease_en.html

[29] http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=532#polymono

[30] http://www.transfatfree.com/pages/art_hydrogenation.htm

[31] http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/defining.htm


Comments (3)

Ekong said

at 10:04 pm on Jan 21, 2009

Cholesterol is a steroid

Ekong said

at 10:45 pm on Jan 22, 2009

after everyone finishes, I could try putting links to each section. link Fats would link to the Fats section, etc

ncanavan@... said

at 11:35 am on Jan 27, 2009

wiki is done. victory

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