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Importance of Fats in Human Body

Every thing about Importance of Fats in Human Body | Vahrehvah :

Fat is an essential part of our diet and nutrition that we cannot live without. Our bodies require small amounts of 'good fat' to function and help prevent diseases.  However, most of our present fancied modern diets contain a lot more fat than the body requires.

Too much fat to the body can cause serious health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels etc which leads to heart disease. Like proteins, fat is also essential to human life. Fat provides a cushion to help our vital organs as without fat our organs would be prone to damage. Fat actually acts as an insulator helping us to maintain the right body temperature.

Dietary fats make food tasty as they often improve the texture of food as well as flavour and aroma - they make food more appealing. Fat enables our body to process vitamins A, D, E and K, which are all fat-soluble and vital to good health. Although we need fat, remember that we require only small quantities of the right kind of fats to stay fit and healthy.

Types of Fat and know the right one to choose?

Firstly fats are nutrients that give your energy. Fats have 9 calories in 1 gram.

They help in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. Fats are widely divided into two type:

1)  Saturated                                 2)     Unsaturated

1.) Saturated Fats: This is also known as solid fat. This fat is mainly found in foods such as fat on meat, chicken skin, full fat dairy products, butter etc. Poultry and fish have less saturated fat than red meat. Saturated fat is also found in tropical oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol.

List of foods having saturated fats:

  • Foods made with butter, lard, ghee (oil made from butter), and margarine or shortening like cakes, cookies and other desserts have a lot of saturated fats.
  • Fatty cuts of meats and meat products such as bacon, sausages, processed meats, duck, chicken or turkey with skin etc.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Whole milk dairy products such as crème fraiche, ice cream, sour cream, cheese.
  • Coconut, coconut oil, palm oil etc.
  • Processed grain products such as cookies, cakes, muffins, pastries and sweets made with ghee.

Eating saturated fats is not a very good idea, but you can perhaps eat fewer foods that are high in saturated fat, or choose options lower in saturated fat or eat foods that are made with unsaturated fats instead of saturated. Nutritionists state that an average man should have no more than 30g saturated fat a day and an average woman should have no more than 20g saturated fat a day.

Trans Fat: This is a fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life of fat and makes the fat harder at room temperature. Harder fat makes crispier crackers and flakier pie crusts. Trans fat can raise your cholesterol hence eat as little trans fat as possible.

Trans fat foods include processed foods, cookies, snack/ junk foods such as chips and crackers, some margarine and salad dressings and foods made with shortening such as cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, breads etc and partially hydrogenated oils. Frozen dinners, fried foods including donuts, French fries, chicken nuggets are also a no as they have trans fat.

2.)  Unsaturated Fat: This is the liquid form of fat at room temperature. It is mostly in oils from plants. Eating unsaturated fat is better than saturated fat as it helps in maintaining your cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats is again divided into Monounsaturated fat and Polyunsaturated fat.

Foods that are rich in unsaturated fat include oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, sunflower, olive and vegetable oils and spreads made from these. There are various ways of eating unsaturated fats:
  • Instead of eating red meat, have oily fish such as salmon, trout or mackerel.
  • While cooking, use unsaturated oils such as olive oil, sunflower instead of butter, lard or ghee.
  • Make cakes with vegetable oil instead of butter.

Monounsaturated Fats: This fat which is available in avocado, nuts and vegetable oils such as canola, olive and peanut oil help lower your LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and keeps HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels high thus lowering the risk of heart disease.

Polyunsaturated Fats: This type of fat is mainly available in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils. Polyunsaturated fat is also the main fat found in seafood. Eating polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat may lower LDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats are of two types, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods from plants like soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed. Oily fish is the best source of omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids may help protect against coronary heart disease. A healthy diet includes 8 ounces or more of these types of fish a week, averaging 250 mg a day of these omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found mostly in liquid vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil. Omega-6 fatty acid aids in reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and high blood pressure. Total fat includes saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat.

Why is Fat important to the body (functions)?

Fat is important to our bodies because:

  1. It provides us with warmth and acts like an insulator trapping heat in our bodies.
  2. It supplies us with the most of our energy. By supplying energy, fats save proteins from being used for energy and allow them to perform their more important role of building and repairing tissues
  3. It provides a source of fat soluble vitamins A-D-E-K into the body and help in the absorption of these vitamins in the intestines.
  4. Fat surrounds and protects certain vital organs like the kidneys, glands and others.
  5. It is part of the structure of cells and tissues (cell membrane) especially in our brains.

Tips on cutting down on fat:

To cut down on fat, do follow some of these below listed tips:

  • Instead of frying or roasting, eat grilled, baked, poach or steam cooked food as this consumes less fat/ oil.
  • Trim off the visible fat and skin from the meat before cooking.
  • Eat low fat dairy products.
  • Add more of green leafy vegetables or vegetables or beans in casseroles, stews and curries instead of meats.
  • Measure the right amount of oil while cooking with a tablespoon rather than pouring it straight from the container.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet with the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats is the most important factor towards our common mantra: Be Fit. Be Cool!

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