Tuesday 7 December 2021



Most people understand that too much fat in the diet, especially certain kinds of fat, imposes health risks, but may be surprised to know that too little does, too. Fats belong to a group of organic compounds called lipids. They provide a more concentrated source of energy and slightly more than twice calorie content than carbohydrates. In addition to providing energy, fats are essential for the functioning and structure of body tissues and are a necessary part of cell membranes (cell walls). They contain essential fatty acids and act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The fat stored in body tissues provides energy when one cannot eat, as may occur during some illness.

Dietary fat is found in both animal and plant products- Animal fats consist of a larger content of saturated fats while plant derived fats are normally in the form of oils and contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They perform many essential functions in the body, but uncertainties exist as to the types and the amount of fat that we should eat. The healthy fat focused issues of fat include; the heart friendly fat and the negative risks ones.

Main categories of fatty acids

Saturated fatty acids are usually solid at room temperature and are obtained from animal fats and their products, e.g. meat, poultry, egg yolks, whole milk, whole milk cheeses, cream, ice cream, and butter. Although with the exception of plant oils such as chocolate, coconut, palm oil, and palm kernel oils which also contains some saturated fats. They contribute to a range of heart diseases and help raise the bad cholesterol. 

Trans trans-fatty acids alter blood cholesterol the same way some saturated fats do: they raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and, at high intakes and lower  HDL (good cholesterol). Trans-fatty acids also appear to increase inflammation and insulin resistance. Limiting the intake of trans-fatty acids can improve blood cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Both saturated and trans fats contribute to heart disease, obesity, high blood cholesterol and other health problems. The major source of Trans Fatty Acids in the diet is from baked goods and foods eaten in restaurants.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids: the two major polyunsaturated fatty acids  are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They have a vital role in the immune response, blood clotting, and inflammation. They are important in neural development of the fetus and infant. Omega-3 fatty acids have been reported to help lower the risk of heart disease. Omega-6 (linoleic acid) has a cholesterol-lowering effect. Foods containing polyunsaturated fats include cooking oils made from sunflower, safflower, or sesame seeds, corn or soybeans; soft margarines whose major ingredient is liquid vegetable oil; and fish. Foods containing high proportions of polyunsaturated fats are usually soft or oily.

Monounsaturated fats. These lipids generally from plant sources and are found in nuts, avocado, canola, corn oil, safflower oil, olive, and peanut oil. They lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (“bad cholesterol”) in the blood and have no effect on high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) (“good cholesterol”).

Tips to make a healthier fat choice

  •  Use small amounts of vegetable oils in place of solid fats.
  • Use butter or stick margarine sparingly; select soft margarines instead of hard margarines.
  •  Use fruit butters, reduced-kcalorie margarines, or butter replacers instead of butter
  •  Use low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise and salad dressing instead of regular.
  •  Limit use of lard and meat fat.
  •  Limit use of products made with coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and palm oil (read labels on bakery goods, processed foods, , and non dairy creamers).
  • Reduce use of hydrogenated shortenings and stick margarines and products that contain them (read labels on crackers, cookies, and other commercially prepared baked goods); use vegetable oils instead
  • Choose soft fat because the softer a fat is, the more unsaturated it is

Fats are an essential part of a healthful diet but, for optimal health, the total amount and type of fat consumed need careful attention. When choosing oils, alternate among the various types of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to obtain the benefits different oils offer.



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