why do we need fats in our body
Why do we need to eat fat? Fat! DonБt be scared of itБб You actually
need it in your diet. б Fat doesn t directly make you fat excess calories make you fat. б ItБs about getting the right balance. Fat has had bad press, to the extent that some foods are designed and marketed as Бfat-freeБ. But it isnБt all bad. In fact, getting some fat from our diet is absolutely vital. In this section, you will find out what fats are, why we need them, what they do for us and where we find them in our foods. Why do we need fat? Virtually all natural foods contain some fat. б It is in foods because both plants and animals use fats as the most economical way to store energy. б It is needed for their growth, development and function when there is a shortage of food supply (or a shortage of sunlight in the case of plants). Certain specific dietary fats have other essential functions. We are much like other animals so we do actually need some fat from our diet to survive. б And while in general, as with most things, too much fat is bad, a certain amount is perfectly compatible with good health. What is fat for? A source of energy Б Our body uses the fat we eat, and fats we make from other nutrients in our bodies, б to provide the energy for most of our life-functions Energy store The extra calories that we consume, but do not need to use immediately, are stored for future use in special fat cells (adipose tissue) Essential fatty acids Б Dietary fats that are essential for growth development and cell functions, but cannot be made by our bodyБs processes Proper functioning of nerves and brain- fats are part of myelin- a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages.
Our brains contain large amounts of essential fats Maintaining healthy skin and other tissues. б All our body cells need to contain some fats б as essential parts of cell membranes, controlling what goes in and out of our cells Transporting fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K Forming steroid hormones Where do we find fats in our foods? The fats that we eat in our foods are mostly БtriglyceridesБ. These are made up of 3 (hence БtriБ) fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal products such as meat, cheese, milk, butter, cream and eggs. Did you know? Animals being warm-blooded incorporate some saturated fats into tissues to keep them more solid. б Cold-blooded fish, and plants, however cannot include much saturated fat because they would become too stiff. б However some oils from tropical plants such as palm oil and coconut oil do contain some saturated fats. The main unsaturated fats are monounsaturated, found particularly in foods such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, peanuts and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are mostly found in plant foods such as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, and in cold-blooded sea-foods. б In natural foods, they come protected with antioxidant vitamins. There are two main classes polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. б These include the essential fatty acids. б Oily fish (e. g. herring, salmon and mackerel) is a good source of omega-3, while omega-6 is mainly found in plant foods such as sunflower oil and rapeseed oil. Trans fats can be natural or artificial. They are mostly artificially created through a process known as hydrogenation (which involves heating and chemical structure change).
Artificial trans fats are mostly found in fast foods, fried foods and commercial baked products such as cookies and are the most unhealthy fats (even worse than saturated fats! ). Natural trans fats can be found in small amounts in milk and beef, and in quite large concentration in cheese. Now, we understand that we do actually need some fat in our diet for survival and in the end, it is all about getting the amount and the right balance! Does my body need fats? Yes, it does. Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones, too. Your body definitely needs fat. How many different fats are there? Trans fats The four types have different chemical structures and physical properties. The bad fats, saturated and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like liquid vegetable oil). Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. The bad fats, saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern. Do all fats have the same number of calories? There are nine calories in every gram of fat, regardless of what type of fat it is. Fats are more energy-dense than carbohydrates and proteins, which provide four calories per gram. Consuming high levels of calories regardless of the source can lead to weight gain or being overweight.
Consuming high levels of saturated or trans fats can also lead to heart disease and stroke. Health experts generally recommend replacing saturated fats and trans fats with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats while still maintaining a nutritionally-adequate diet. Are all foods labeled " trans fat-free" healthy foods? Not necessarily. Foods labeled 0 trans fat or cooked with trans fat-free oils may contain a lot of saturated fats, which raise your bad cholesterol levels. Trans fat-free foods may also be unhealthy in terms of their general nutrient content. For example, baked goods also tend to be high in added sugars and low in nutrients. Can fats be part of a healthy diet? Eating foods with fat is definitely part of a healthy diet. Just remember to choose foods that provide good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and balance the amount of calories you eat from all foods with the amount of calories you burn. Aim to eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts; and limits intake of sodium, sweets, sugar sweetened beverages and red meats. Doing so means that your diet will be low in both saturated fats and trans fats. Does eating more healthfully mean giving up my favorite foods? A healthy diet can include the foods you love. You don t have to avoid these treats entirely, but you do need to eat less of foods that are low in nutrition and high in calories. Last reviewed 2014. Copyright В 2018 American Heart Association, Healthy For Good, heart. org/healthyforgood
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