Triglycerides (TGs) are the main kind of body fat. Most of the stored fat that we carry around in our bodies is composed of TGs.
TGs are also carried in our bloodstream, and high blood TGs are one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. When sugars turn into saturated fatty acids, these fatty acids are also carried by triglycerides.
A trygliceride (below) is a molecule in which the back-bone is a glycerol molecule from which each of its 3 carbon atoms carry a fatty acid. In oils found in nature, the outside carbons prefer to hold a saturated fatty acid (SaFA), whereas the middle position prefers and essential fatty acid.
This preference is, however, not 100%, and so one also finds the positions switched. The type of oil or fat helps determine which fatty acids will be found in which position. Beef fat, for instance, is made of TGs that carry mostly saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids in all positions ( it contains hardly any EFAs).
Our body burns shorter chain fatty acids such as from butter, and medium chain (16-18 carbon) saturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids for energy and metabolic functions in the body. Excessive TGs, however can cause problems. High levels of blood TGs increase our risk of heart disease.
They are produced by overeating and by high dietary intake of refined sugars (which breakdown into long-chain SaFAs), and sticky SaFAs (animal fats). Under these conditions, TG fatty acids oxidize and damage the insides of our arteries. High blood TG levels may also increase the tendency of blood cells to clump together. They can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and other degenerative diseases.
Diets high in healthy fats and rich in minerals and vitamins lessen the danger of degeneration. Antioxidant vitamins C and E, and carotene, sulphur, selenium, zinc, and manganese are important for preventing fatty acids from oxidizing. Vitamin B6 should be increased on a high fat diet. This is necessary for metablizing fatty acids.
Uda Erasmus, 'Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill'