Fats: All You Need To Know

Fats are a macronutrient that has been the topic of discussion when it comes to dieting, weight loss and health, especially cardiovascular health. They are many misconceptions about fats and health but thankfully studies are shedding more light on this food group and the best way to make them part of the diet. Fats are found naturally in many foods and food products and are also added in cooking and salads as they make food softer and better testing. This article explores fats and how to best utilize them.

Composition Of Fatty Acids

Fats are consist of three fatty acids and one glycerol molecule and so are scientifically referred to as triglycerides. Fats are divided into two main groups that are saturated and unsaturated fats. An easy way to distinguish the two is by the state at room temperature as saturated fats are solid at room temperature while unsaturated fats are liquid.

Fats have the most calories per gram of any food group and can provide more than double the energy compared to carbohydrates and proteins. This said, fat is not the body’s go-to source of energy but acts more like a reserve of energy with the exception of muscle tissue which breaks them down for energy needs. The liver is key when it comes to fats as it has the ability to metalize them and acts as an important regulator for fat content in the body.

Functions of Triglycerides

Fats are crucial for the body as they provide the building block to almost every cell membrane. They are also essential for hormonal health enabling the body’s different components to communicate. Fats are needed for digestion of very important vitamins including vitamins A, D, E and K that are necessary for brain, hormonal, skin, cell, tissue and nail health.

Fats also provide protection to important organs as they form insulation around them and the adipose layer beneath the skin is essential for temperature control. Fat is also slowly absorbed in the stomach, meaning it can help individuals feel fuller for longer and control appetite.

Sources of Fatty Acids

Fats are found in just about every food group and can be categorized as saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fat. Sources of saturated fats include fatty meat, full-fat milk, cheese, butter, cream, deep-fried fast foods, coconut and palm oil.

Monosaturated fats can be found in avocado, nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds (including peanut and other nut butters), canola oil and olive oil while sources of polyunsaturated fats are fish, seafood, polyunsaturated margarine, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn or soy oils, nuts such as walnuts and Brazil nuts, and seeds. Trans fats can be found in baked products such as pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and buns.

Advice on Fats and Health

The amount of fats that can be consumed safely will be determined by factors like age, fitness levels and goals, digestion, genetics and level of activity. It is advised to avoid trans fats and saturated fats as they raise bad blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases