The full story on fat
by Tobias •4 minutes read
Last updated: 18 Jan, 2023
Fat is a type of macronutrient that is essential for human health. It plays a number of important roles in the body, including providing energy, insulation, and cushioning. Once vilified in mainstream media, fat has shown a resurgence in popularity in recent years, owing to certain scientific studies as well as an increase in interest from the rich and famous.
Types of fat
There are four main types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat.
Saturated fat is found in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. It is solid at room temperature and can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease. It is recommended to limit saturated fat intake to less than 10% of daily calories.
Monounsaturated fat is found in foods such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts. It can help to lower LDL cholesterol levels and is considered to be a healthy type of fat.
Polyunsaturated fat is found in foods such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. It can also help to lower LDL cholesterol levels and is considered to be a healthy type of fat. There are two types of polyunsaturated fat: omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish and some plant sources, have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to improve brain health and may have a role in the prevention of certain mental health disorders. Omega-6 fatty acids, found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, are also important for health, but it is important to have a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Trans fat is a type of fat that is created through a process called hydrogenation, which adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Trans fat is found in foods such as fried foods, baked goods, and snack foods. It has been shown to increase LDL cholesterol levels and decrease HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease. It is recommended to avoid trans fat as much as possible.
Fat in a healthy lifestyle
In terms of weight management, fat is an important macronutrient, but it is important to choose the right types of fat and consume them in moderation. Fat is high in calories, with 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates. Consuming too much fat can lead to weight gain. It is generally recommended to consume 20-35% of daily calories from fat, depending on individual needs.
Fat is also important for supporting an active lifestyle. During exercise, the body uses fat as an energy source, particularly during low to moderate intensity activity. Consuming the right types of fat, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, can help to support energy levels and muscle function. In addition, fat is important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, D, E, and K, which are important for overall health.
There are also different types of fat-soluble vitamins, each with its own set of health benefits:
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important for vision, immune function, and the maintenance of healthy skin. It is found in animal sources such as liver, egg yolks, and dairy, as well as in plant sources such as orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for bone health and the absorption of calcium. It can be synthesized by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and it is also found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from oxidative stress. It is found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. It has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and the maintenance of healthy bones. It is found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
In addition to their role in energy metabolism and vitamin absorption, fats also play a role in hormone production and cell membrane structure. They are an important component of the cell membrane, which helps to keep the cell stable and protect it from damage. Fats also play a role in the production of hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol.
In summary, fat is an important macronutrient that plays a number of important roles in the body. It is important to choose the right types of fat and consume them in moderation to support a healthy weight and active lifestyle. By making informed choices about your fat intake, you can support your overall health and well-being.
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