One type of saturated fatty acid may be good for mitochondrial health.
A new study shows a saturated fatty acid called stearic acid improved mitochondrial structure and function after oral ingestion in both healthy and diabetic people. There was also an increase in the utilization of stearic acid by the mitochondria.
Interestingly, another saturated fatty acid called palmitic acid did not improve mitochondrial health and has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer whereas stearic acid has been linked to reduced risk of those diseases.
This data seems to suggest that stearic acid activates a physiological response for lipids including fatty acid beta-oxidation, whereas palmitic acid does not. This could mean that palmitic acid may lead to fat accumulation in the body which could have adverse effects.