Diabetes & Fat

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Chemically, a molecule of fat is made up of three molecules of fatty acids (which are made up of chains of carbon atoms bound with hydrogen with a carboxylic acid group of atoms at one end) that are bound on a glycerol molecule (or a similar molecule made up of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen) backbone. The fatty acids can take different forms which act to alter the nature of the fat and this is where the difference between saturated and non-saturated fat occurs. Saturated fatty acids are fatty acids where all of the carbon atoms in the chain are bonded to two hydrogen atoms (and the two carbon atoms on either side of them along the chain). If a fat contains a fatty acid with a chain where one or more of the carbon atoms are only bonded to one hydrogen atom (so that it forms a double bond with one of the adjacent carbons) then it is known as an un-saturated fatty acid. The double bond between the two carbon atoms can be arranged in one of two ways; either cis (where the hydrogen atoms attached to the two carbon atoms are on the same side) or trans (where the hydrogen atoms attached to the two carbon atoms are on opposite sides). The differentiations between saturated and non-saturated fat and trans unsaturated fat is important because they are digested by your body in different ways. Saturated fats and (to a larger extent) trans fats have been found to increase cholesterol levels in your blood and therefore increase your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke if taken in large amounts in your diet. This is an especially important fact if you are a diabetic as you will already have a higher than average risk of developing heart disease. Diabetics should aim to reduce the amount of saturated fat and trans fat which means minimizing the amount of processed foods, fast foods, high fat dairy products and high fat meat. 

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