For those of you unfamiliar with the shorthand notation of organic compounds, chemists tend to leave off the hydrogens and draw the carbon chains as zigzags. For example, the four empty vertices on the butyric acid molecule below are carbons, and each carbon has enough hydrogens attached to it to reach four bonds total.
Here are some saturated fats:
Acetic acid (HC2H3O2)
Health benefits of acetic acid include reducing the glycemic index of foods and possibly increasing mineral absorption.
Butyric acid (HC4H7O2)
Lauric acid (HC12H23O2)
Palmitic acid (HC16H31O2)
Palmitic acid is the primary form of saturated fat found in nature. It is also the human body's preferred storage fat, and the body will convert half of dietary carbohydrate in excess of 40% of calories to palmitic acid, while also increasing glucose metabolism to burn more glucose and less fat than on a diet containing 40% carbohydrate. Interestingly, this means that above 40% carbohydrate, eating an isocaloric amount of beef tallow will mean that your cells see the same amount of saturated fat as if you ate pure carbohydrate, since beef tallow is about 50% saturated fat. If you eat the beef tallow, you will also get a significant amount of stearic and oleic acids, which are health-promoting. (Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat, so it will be discussed in an upcoming post about monounsaturated fats.)
Compared to carbohydrate, palmitic acid increases total cholesterol, while maintaining the same ratio of total to HDL cholesterol.
Stearic acid (HC18H35O2)
Grass-fed beef has a more favorable lipid profile than grain-fed beef. Among the benefits are more stearic acid and less palmitic acid. Shea butter is also rich in stearic acid.
Disclaimer: none of these images is my own work. Where required, I have attributed them to their authors by means of links beneath the images.