The Function of Fats in Our Life

The Function of Fats in Our Life

Fats along with proteins and carbohydrates, are one of the three nutrients used as energy sources by the body. The energy produced by fats is 9 calories per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates each provide 4 calories per gram. Total fat; the sum of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help reduce blood cholesterol when substituted for saturated fats in the diet. A slang term for obese or adipose. In chemistry, a compound formed from chemicals called fatty acids. These fats are greasy, solid materials found in animal tissues and Fats are the major component of the flabby material of a body, commonly known as blubber.

As strange as it sounds, eating fat can actually help you lose weight. Not only that, your memory and your immune system will benefit from eating fat. It is an extremely bad idea to eliminate fat completely from your diet. “Good” fats are absolutely essential. These good fats come from things like Enova Oil, canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, flax seed, almonds, walnuts and cold-water fish. Eating the right kind of fat and getting rid of the wrong kind is what is needed.

Key Functions of Fat

We need some fat – it makes up part of our brains, it protects some of our joints and it provides reserves for when we’re sick – but it slips down so effortlessly, it’s easy to overindulge.

  • Fat provides needed energy.  It is difficult to eat the large amounts of food in a very low fat diet to get all the energy you need.
  • Fat is needed so your body can absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, S, E, K, and prevent deficiencies of these vitamins.
  • Provides back-up energy if blood sugar supplies run out (after 4-6 hours without food).
  • Provides insulation under the skin from the cold and the heat.
  • Protects organs and bones from shock and provides support for organs.
  • Fat surrounds and insulates nerve fibers to help transmit nerve impulses.
  • Fat is part of every cell membrane in the body.  It helps transport nutrients and metabolites across cell membranes.
  • Your body uses fat to make a variety of other building blocks needed for everything from hormones to immune function.  

What happens if we don’t have enough fat?

  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Hair loss
  • Low body weight
  • Cold intolerance
  • Bruising
  • Poor growth
  • Lower resistance to infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Loss of menstruation

Food Sources of Fat

High intakes of fat contribute to becoming overweight; being overweight increases the chance of developing a number of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

  Not only do we need to restrict the amount of fat, but we also need to consider what type of fat is restricted, as different types of fat have different effects on blood cholesterol levels and heart health.

Food contains a mixture of three types of fat; polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats.  One type of fat usually dominates in a food for example, butter is mainly saturated fat and olive oil is mainly monounsaturated.  All fats contain approximately the same amount of kilojoules or energy and if eaten in large amounts will lead weight gain.  

  • Polyunsaturated Fats – lowers blood cholesterol and encourages heart health – Good food sources are; Vegetable oils such as safflower, soy bean, sunflower, corn, Wheat germ, wholegrain cereals and breads, Polyunsaturated margarines, Fish oils, naturally present in fish, Seeds and most nuts.
  • Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat found mainly in oily fish (eg salmon, mackerel, sardines, herrings), canola oil, flaxseed oil (linseed oil) and walnut oil. These fats help to reduce blood clotting, blood pressure and blood fat levels. 
  • Monounsaturated Fats – do not raise blood cholesterol and encourages heart health – Good food source are; Avocados, peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter, Olive oil, olives and olive oil-based margarines, Canola oil and monounsaturated table spread, Almond and hazelnuts.
  • Saturated Fats – raise blood cholesterol and promote heart disease – These are the ones to reduce or avoid Major food sources are; Dairy fats such as butter, clarified butter, cultured butter, butter/margarine mix, Milk homogenised or full cream, Hard cheeses, cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream and cream, Meat fats such as lard, dripping, suet, beef tallow and chefade, White visible fat on beef, mutton, lamb, pork, poultry, Processed meat, e.g. luncheon, salami, most sausages, tinned corned beef, fatty mince pies and pates, Tropical oils such as coconut, coconut cream, palm oil and kremelta.
  • Trans Fats are the other type of fat that can raise your cholesterol level just like saturated fats – Trans fats can be formed when vegetable fats are processed in certain ways.  Some polyunsaturated fats are converted to trans fats when vegetable oils are chemically harden to make it spreadable such as margarine.  This process is called ‘hydrogenation’. These fats may be found listed in the food ingredients on packaged foods as vegetable fat, baking margarine and vegetable shortening.  Foods containing this fat include pastries, biscuits, crackers, muesli bars, commercial cakes and muffins.  

Daily Usage of Fats

We all need some fat in our diets. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to have a fat-free diet as most foods, even fruit and veg, provide small amounts of fat. As well as providing the body with a concentrated source of energy, certain components of fat are essential parts of our body cells and are needed to make hormones. Fat also helps to insulate our body and small amounts around the major organs have a protective effect. Several vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) are also fat-soluble and tend to be found in foods with a high fat content. Very low fat intakes mean that intakes of these vitamins, in turn, are often extremely low, too.

The Department of Health recommends that no more than a third of calories come from this nutrient, while most weight loss plans rarely recommend less than 20% of calories come from fat.

Nutritional Safety

Some people do not do well if their diet is too high in fat, regardless of what type. They will develop a slow metabolism, constipation, lethargy, and skewed cholesterol levels if they eat too much fat. These people do best with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods.

Very few fats are bad in and of themselves. Trans fat is an oil that has been chemically manipulated to be more solid. It has been found to be particularly harmful to the arteries and is not recommended at any level in the diet. The lower the better on this one!

Usually it is the proportion of fat that is the problem. Recently it has been found that a diet with too much omega-6 fat and not enough omega-3 fat leads to inflammation and suppression of the immune system. So balancing these fats is very important.

Too much fat in your diet puts you at risk for Obesity,Coronary Artery Disease ,High Cholesterol, Myocardial Infarction and Hypertension.

My next article entitled “The Function of Vitamin A in our Life” will examine the role of Vitamin A in good nutrition.

See you on the Beaches of the World,