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why do we need food in our body

Everyone understands what food is? Don't they! Well - not necessarily! The food industry has made it almost impossible to really understand what is in our food and what we need to get out of it for a healthy life. So many of the chronic illnesses of modern life are linked to food and our total lack of understanding about a healthy diet. This book will help you work out what a healthy balance is and how you can get it easily. It's not about fad diets, short term fixes or unpalatable 'healthy' food. It's about understanding what food gives us, how to balance the food groups, how to change our eating habits for life when we actually know what we should be eating - and why.
Fats and oils provide a concentrated source of energy and the essential fatty acids needed for growth and health. They aid the absorption of some vitamins such as vitamin A and improve the taste of meals. Some fatty/oily foods contain important vitamins. Fats and oils contain different fat-nutrients. These include unsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids and cholesterol. Unsaturated fatty acids Two of the unsaturated fatty acids are called essential fatty acids because the body cannot make them. They are needed for building cells, especially the cells of the brain and nervous system.

Unsaturated fatty acids contain a group called omega-3 fatty acids, which help to protect the body from heart disease. Examples of foods containing mainly unsaturated fatty acids are most vegetable oils, groundnuts, soybeans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and other oilseeds, oily fishes and avocados. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are oily sea fish and some seeds and pulses such as linseed and soybeans. Saturated fatty acids Examples of foods containing mainly saturated fatty acids are butter, ghee, lard/cooking fat, whole milk, cheese, fats from meats and meat products (e. g. sausages) and poultry, red palm oil and coconuts. Trans fatty acids When vegetable oils are processed to make them harder (e. g. for use in margarine and other solid fats), some of the unsaturated fatty acids are changed into trans fatty acids. These behave like saturated fatty acids. We should eat as little of the foods containing trans fatty acids as possible. Examples of foods containing trans fatty acids are margarine and lard (shortening), fried foods, such as chips (French fries) and others, commercially fried foods, such as doughnuts, as well as baked goods, biscuits, cakes and ice creams.

Cholesterol Cholesterol is found only in animal foods but the body can make it from other fatnutrients. We need some cholesterol for our bodies to grow and function properly. There are two kinds of cholesterol in the blood. High levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) seem to reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating foods containing mainly unsaturated fatty acids tends to increase the level of good cholesterol. High levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) seem to increase the risk of heart disease. Eating foods containing mainly saturated fats tends to increase the level of bad cholesterol. Fat needs Fat needs are expressed as percent of total energy needs (see Appendix 2). The percent of total energy that should come from fat in a healthy balanced diet is: At least 20 percent up to 30 percent for women of reproductive age (15-45 years). This means the diet of a woman of reproductive age who needs approximately 2 400 kcal/day should contain about 480-720 kcal from fat or oil. This is equivalent to 53-80 g of pure oil (or about 11-16 level teaspoons). Part of the fat in a diet is not added in the kitchen at home but is hidden in foods such as meat, milk, groundnuts and oilseeds as well as fried foods.

Fat and health It is recommended that less than one-third of the fat in the diet is in the form of saturated fatty acids. Red palm oil and coconuts/coconut oil are foods rich in saturated fatty acids but, unlike other such foods, they do not seem to increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Moderate intake of coconut, for instance, seems to be acceptable, providing other foods high in saturated fats are eaten as little as possible. This is particularly true where the overall lifestyle lessens the risk of heart disease. Such a lifestyle could, for example, be one with a high physical activity level, high intake of fish, vegetables and root crops, low intake of salt and little or no use of tobacco or alcohol. Red palm oil is also a good source of other important nutrients, such as vitamin A and vitamin E. Ideally trans fatty acids should provide less than 1 percent of the total energy intake (or not more than 2 g for most adults). For many families this means they should, when possible, eat more of the foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids (e. g. foods from plants and oily sea fish), less of the foods high in saturated fatty acids, and much less of the foods high in trans fatty acids.

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