What are they?
Fats are also called ‘fatty acids’ or ‘lipids.’ Fats in our body are made up of three molecules joined together. This three-molecule structure is called a “triglyceride”.
Most of the fat we need is made by our bodies, but there are some fats our bodies cannot make. We can only get these fats by eating them. These fats are called “essential” fats because it is essential that we get them from food. Essential fats include Omega-3 fats (found in foods such as fish and flax seed) and Omega-6 fats (found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and corn oil).
There are three main types of fat in the foods you eat:
- Unsaturated fats from plant foods.
- Saturated fats from animal foods.
- Trans fats from commercially prepared, processed foods.
Why is fat important?
A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself.
Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.
Any fat that’s not used by your body’s cells or turned into energy is converted into body fat. Likewise, unused carbohydrates and proteins are also converted into body fat.
All types of fat are high in energy. A gram of fat, whether it’s saturated or unsaturated, provides 9kcal (37kJ) of energy compared with 4kcal (17kJ) for carbohydrate and protein.
Most fats and oils contain both saturated and unsaturated fats in different proportions.
As part of a healthy diet, you should try to cut down on foods and drinks that are high in saturated fats and trans fats and replace some of them with unsaturated fats.
Let’s dig a little deeper and learn why we shouldn’t fear fat
Most of us can easily remember the era when fat was considered the number-one no-no to avoid when maintaining a healthy diet and keeping one’s weight within healthy limits.
In fact, there’s an entire generation of people out there that grew up believing the best, most effective way to shed unwanted pounds was to follow a fat-free diet to the letter.
These days, we understand that fat isn’t necessarily the enemy when it comes to maintaining a balanced diet or a healthy weight. In fact, the opposite is true. The right types of dietary fat consumed in sensible amounts are an essential part of any solid diet plan. The following are just a few of the most important reasons to overcome your fear of including small amounts of healthy fat in yours.
Fat is important for cardiovascular health
If you’re like many people, fitness and nutrition are priorities to you because they’re essential parts of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. However, keeping your heart, lungs and other related organs going strong is about a lot more than simply picking up the pace in the cardio room at the gym. Dietary fats, such as fish oil, play a particularly important role when it comes to heart health and the prevention of heart disease.
Yes, eating too much fat is bad for your heart, but so is eating to little. 20%-30% of your daily caloric intake is the appropriate amount. Lipoprotien is a substance thought by many experts tone a direct factor in the development of heart disease. The presence of the correct amount of fat in your system helps reduce dangerous lipoprotein levels and keep them in check, so make it a point to include foods high in heart-healthy fats in your diet.
Fat keeps your brain healthy and functioning
Your brain isn’t just any organ. It’s an organ that’s composed primarily of fat. Once you know that, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to cut all fat out of your diet if you’re serious about maintaining proper brain function. The consumption of saturated fat is especially important when t comes to providing your brain with the basic nourishment it needs for regeneration and maintenance.
It’s also important to realise that the neurones in your brain and throughout your nervous system are protected by a coating of myelin, a substance that’s approximately 70% fat. Quite a large portion of that fat is derived from oleic acid in particular. Healthy food sources that are high in this important compound include avocados, almonds pecans and many other nuts. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are also important for efficient brain function and include fatty fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines.
Fat helps you conquer cravings
Naturally, your body is less concerned with whether or not you model-perfect in your favourite swimsuit than it is staying adequately nourished. The fact that fat is calorie-rich and essential for proper system function is exactly why people tend to crave it in their diets. The more you deprive your body of this important macronutrient, the stronger those cravings are going to become.
A diet that’s too low in fat often leads the body to demand more food in general as a way to compensate. That could make saying “no” to that pizza or big mac a lot harder the next time you’re facing a moment of weakness. Keep cravings in check by consuming sensible amounts of healthy fats in your diet. Eating at least some healthy fat at meals can help stop cravings from being too overwhelming when they do show up.