What you need to know about Fat

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The name — fat — may make it sound like something you shouldn’t eat. But fat is an important part of a healthy diet. Fat is one of the macronutrients in human nutrition. Aside from providing energy, it also has other key functions such as aiding the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and producing hormones. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding this nutrient is that eating fat will make you fat. Fat does not make you fat, excess calories do! But more of that later.

There are many types of fats, some good and some bad. Too much fat, especially the bad kind, can cause serious health complaints such as obesity, higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These in turn lead to a greater risk of heart disease.
Like amino acids in protein, fat contains essential fatty acids (EFAs).  These EFAs are, as their name suggests, essential to good health and likely to help the heart and immune system.  The human body cannot make its own (synthesize) these EFA’s and therefore must get them from food sources.

Types of Fat


Saturated and Unsaturated

The two main types of fat are saturated and unsaturated fats.   Unsaturated fats are generally considered better for us than saturated fats. The difference between the two fats is their chemical makeup and therefore different behaviors inside the body.

Saturated fats can increase bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in human blood and are often called the “bad fats.” Saturated fats are found in animal products.
Unsaturated fats are referred to as the good or healthy ones. They are found mostly in vegetable products and are healthy because they tend to lower the bad cholesterols (LDL) while raising levels of good cholesterols (HDL). Sources include vegetable oils (olive & canola oil), nuts, seeds and seafood (salmon, tuna, shrimp).

Hydrogenated or Trans Fat

Hydrogenated Fat or Trans Fat is manufactured fat used in processed foods.  It contains some qualities desirable to food manufacturers, but is perhaps the unhealthiest of fats. It is found in fast food.  It increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood.  Consume as little as possible of fats of this kind.



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