Fats are one of the Macronurients , other two are Proteins and Carbohydrates. Fat is the major storage form of energy in the body. A moderate amount of fat is needed in the diet for good health. Fats in food come in several forms, including saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.
Almost every natural food contains some amount of fat. Both plants and animals use fats as the way to store energy. When there is not sufficient supply of food or sunlight (in case of plants), then it is needed for their growth, development and function.
We only need small quantities of good fats to stay healthy. Consuming too much fat and the wrong kind of fat can turn out to be harmful for our health. We can broadly classify fat in two types:
- Unsaturated fats
- Saturated fats
These are oils that have fatty acid chains of one or more double-bond chemical structure.
- Mono-saturated – These are fatty acids that contain one double Bond between two elements, which are present in the amino acid chain. The more double bonds within the fats, the thicker it’s viscosity. Mono-saturated fatty acids are often used in the Mediterranean.
for example, olive oil contains 80 to 85% of Mono-saturated fats.
- Poly-saturated – These fatty acids contain more than one double bond and therefore are lot thicker.
These fats are found in fish, nuts, legumes and are generally seen to be a good thing in diet. Studies have shown that they reduce the risk of heart disease and are an important part of a healthy diet.
- Trans Fats – These are often thought of as the artificial fats, created through hydrogenating plant oils, although they may occur naturally in some foods, such as milk.
They are often linked with heart risks and health issues such as heart disease, liver dysfunction, obesity and cancer. Commonly they are found in cooking oils for fast food restaurants.
Saturated fatty acids contain no double-bonds, in other words the chains are “saturated” in hydrogen. They can be found to high degrees inside animal fat. The overall consensus being that while these fatty oils are not as harmful compared to Trans fats, they have still been liked to diseases such as cancer.
We should aim to reduce the intake of saturated fats and replace them with Poly-saturated fatty oils. When considering what fats you are eating, it is wiser to always choose a healthier type. Poly-unsaturated fats have shown to be more beneficial.
Roles Of Fats In Body:
- Source of energy- Body uses the fat we eat, and fats we make from other nutrients in our bodies to provide the energy to our body.
- Transporting fat-soluble vitamins – Fat soluble vitamins are A,D, E and K. Fats transport them through bloodstream to the organs.
- Energy store – The extra calories that we consume, are stored for future use in special fat cells.
- Essential fatty acids – Dietary fats that are essential for growth development and cell functions.
- Proper functioning of nerves and brain- Fats are part of myelin- a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages. Our brains contain large amounts of essential fats
- Maintaining healthy skin and other tissues- Our body cells need fat as essential parts of cell membranes, controlling what goes in and out of our cells.
Sources Of Healthy Fats:
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole Eggs
- Fatty Fish(salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring)
- Nuts(almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts and others)
- Chia Seeds
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Dark Chocolate
- Coconut oil
- Full-Fat Yogurt