Fats are important sources of dietary energy that are essential for the growth processes in the human body and also for several other functions. ‘Fat Is Bad’ was the motto of 80’s, but now it has been ascertained that certain types of fats play a crucial role in the maintenance of body.
What Is Fat?
Fats are the triesters of fatty acids and glycerol that cannot be dissolved in water. Although they are called oils, fats and lipids, oils usually refer to the fats in liquid form, fats refer to the solid form and lipids refer to both.
Most of the dietary fats are called TAG or Triacylglycerides and Triacylglycerol because there are three fatty acids bonded to a glycerol molecule. There are so many variations in this structure, which distinguish the characteristics and functions of each form from the other.
Fats make the skin and hair healthier and also maintain the body temperature. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) can be absorbed only in the presence of fats.
They keep arteries functioning by maintaining a normal level of beneficial HDL cholesterol in body. They also work as energy bank for the body storing metabolic energy in the form of adipose tissue. Moreover, they have a vital role in the construction of body cells and hormones.
Animal products like meat, milk, butter and cheese are the main sources of this fat. They can badly affect the health by raising the level of LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol and causing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease which may lead to a heart attack or stroke. So it is recommended that only 10 percent of energy intake should be from saturated fats.
These fats have a good effect on health by increasing the level of HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 10 to 20 percent of energy intake should be from these kinds of fats. Olive oil and rapeseed oil contain a large amount of monounsaturated fats. Nuts, seeds, eggs and fish also contain these fats.
There are two types of polyunsaturated fats, Omega-3s and Omega-6s. The main sources of the first one are fish and fish oils. Rapeseed oil, walnut oil, linseed oil and canola oil also contain these fats.
They can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood pressure. Omega-6 is mainly found in vegetable oils and can reduce both the LDL and HDL cholesterols. Excessive intake of these fatty acids may cause tissue damage and result in cancer and atherosclerosis.
Alpha-linolenic acid, which belongs to Omega-3 group and linolenic acid, which belongs to Omega-6 group are essential for human body.
4. Trans Fats
Trans fats can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and are found in beef, lamb, milk and cheese. The main source of these fats is partially hydrogenated oils. They are not at all good for health as they reduce the HDL cholesterol level and raise the level of LDL cholesterol.
Fatty acids are essential for the body, but they can be harmful as well. Excessive intake of saturated and trans fats can cause dangerous health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A moderate use is always recommended and animal fats especially, should be controlled strictly for the proper maintenance of our body.