March 08, 2010
Fat??? Is one element that is truly scaring and most of us hate to be fat or obese. Oh! It’s not the body weight (fat) that we are talking about but it’s all about the fats that we eat or use to cook our food. What is fat? Why do we need to eat fat, are few queries that most of think about?
What is fat?
Fat is actually said to be the backup source of energy to fuel your body when carbohydrates are not available. It is an essential part of the diet and provides energy, absorbs certain nutrients and also maintains the body temperature. Hence you do need to consume moderate amount of fat to support these functions. There are good fats and bad fats while good fats protect your heart and keep the body healthy, bad fats increase the risk of disease and damage your heart.
Why do we need fat?
Mostly all foods contain some amount of fat. They are a type of lipid which serves various functions in the body while cholesterol is the important component of cell membrane. Fat is stored as reserve food because it can provide more than double the amount of energy produced by carbohydrates. Nutritionists state that each gram of fat provides nine calories of energy for the body compared with four calories per gram of carbohydrates and protein.
Apart from providing energy, fat also builds healthy cells, helps the body use vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K which are fat-soluble vitamins. Fats also make hormones and provide a healthier skin.
Types of Fats:
There are four different types of fats that make up the fat in food.
Saturated Fats: These are solid fats and are solid at room temperature. It is mostly found in animal foods such as meat, eggs, milk and cheese. Saturated fats are available in tropical oils like coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter. Tropical oils are used in the making of many snacks and non-dairy foods that include whipped toppings, coffee creamers, butter, margarine or in shortening used in cakes, cookies and other desserts. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol.
Trans Fat: This fat is changed by a process called hydrogenation which makes the oil less likely to spoil. This process also increases the shelf life, makes the fat harder at room temperature and has a less greasy feel. The harder fat makes the crackers crispier and pie crusts flakier. Trans fat can raise your cholesterol level hence eat in moderate amounts. They are available in processed foods, snack foods like chips, crackers, cookies, margarine and salad dressings.
Monounsaturated fats: This fat is available in avocado, nuts and vegetable oils like canola, olive and peanut oils. Eating foods high in monounsaturated fats will help lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fats: This fat is available mainly in vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean and corn oils. Seafood is a rich source of polyunsaturated fats. Two types of polyunsaturated fats include: