We’ve all heard people talk about fat as the bane of existence. You can’t sit down and have a nice meal without fats joining the table, the problem that everyone wants to get away from with as little fuss as possible. But Fats are necessary for our body to function, to maintain health and to have balance in our bodies generally.
Fats are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and belong to a group of substances called lipids. Examples of lipids are oils, wax and cholesterol; in everyday life, we find lipids in the form of butter, margarine, the fat on cuts of meat, vegetable oil and olive oil.
Have you heard the saying ‘Fats don’t make you Fat, Unhealthy Fats make you Fat?’ It’s true but there are more factors that can affect weight-gain such as overconsumption of sugar, poor sleep patterns that see you bingeing in the middle of the night, work and family-related stress, the use of medications and so on.
Unhealthy Fats and Cholesterol have been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity. The fat we consume, unused by our body’s cells or to create energy, will be stored as body fat. Did you note, fats can and are also a form of energy! In fact, fat is very high in terms of its energy capabilities. A gram of fat provides 9kcal of energy whereas carbohydrates and protein only provide 4kcal of energy per gram but don’t start on the fried chicken burgers yet because healthy fats are what you should be after.
Examples of the healthy fats you’d want to include in your diet (nutritional regime) are Avacado, Nuts, Seeds and Butter, Cheese, Dark Chocolate, Fatty Fish, Lean Meat, Chia Seeds and Olive Oil. So you see that fats can come from both animal and plant sources.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the ‘healthy fats.’ Monounsaturated fats are no longer saturated with hydrogen atoms whereas polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more carbon double bonds. The more the double bonds there are, the less these fatty acids can pack themselves close together which means the melting point of the chemical structure is lowered.
In the UK the general guidance is to keep consumption of fats to 30 – 35% with trans fats at 5g or less per day. The best thing would be to avoid trans fats totally, but what are trans fats and why are they bad you ask?
Trans fat is an artificially created fat produced from a process called hydrogenation found in various fried foods, microwave-ready meals and baked products. This process became popular with food manufacturers because the shelve life of foods could be greatly increased due to this solidifying of liquid oils. These fats are bad for you and your families health because they raise your risk of heart attacks, stroke and type-2 diabetes. Also, they have bad effects on blood cholesterol levels as well as Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.
Consuming the right kinds of fats are healthy and essential to maintaining a healthy working body. They provide the body with energy, support cell growth, protect organs, help to keep our bodies insulated, aid us in absorbing nutrients and they also help to produce hormones. Don’t believe fats are unhealthy because we need them daily. Avoid processed fats and go for the natural unprocessed fats like those explained above to help you stay healthy, fit and strong.
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