What Are Fats?

The best way to tell if you are overweight is to take a long, hard look in a full-length mirror. If fat is what you want to lose, don’t be fooled by fast water loss and don’t risk your health.

What are good fats and bad fats?
You have to be nude, and it’s wise to have a second, movable mirror that will allow you to see the buttocks and backs of the thighs in the full-length one. Look at your stomach, hips and thighs. Do you see extra bulges and bumps? Are there flabby places where skin hangs in thick lumps?

Height and weight don’t always tell the whole story. Muscle weighs more than fat, and there is enormous variation in the amount of muscle and fat from person to person. There is also great variation in body water among individuals.

What are fats needed for?

Fat does nothing to help the body breathe and move, but is an ideal way to store energy. Your body takes food molecules and makes three types of fat: (1) triglyceride, (2) lipoprotein and (3) cholesterol.

Triglyceride, a liquid at body temperature, is the main form in which fat is stored in fat cells till needed. When you eat more or less energy than you burn, triglyceride is carried from the liver to the fat cells or from the fat cells to the liver. Although it can exist by itself inside fat or liver cells, it is carried in the blood by the lipoproteins, special transport molecules.

Cholesterol is used to make cell walls, sex hormones and bile. The cholesterol we make in our own body is called endogenous. Fatty foods, especially, increase endogenous cholesterol. Certain foods are high in ready-made or exogenous cholesterol.

This substance increases with aging, but people with an inherited tendency toward obesity start to make too much in infancy. Progressive weight gain causes increased production of endogenous cholesterol. Weight loss, on the other hand, lowers it.

Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

Foods containing monounsaturated fats are gaining recognition for their benefits in the fight against heart disease. It is known that saturated fats will raise blood cholesterol, whereas polyunsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol.

People in Mediterranean countries, with a diet consisting largely of cereals, vegetables and olive oil, have a low incidence of heart disease. Olive oil contains mostly monounsaturated fats.

However, it seems that diets which are very low in fat or which contain mostly polyunsaturated fat will also lower HDL cholesterol. This HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease, and therefore a higher level is beneficial.

Diets containing monounsaturated fats will lower total cholesterol, but will maintain or improve the HDL cholesterol level thus giving a more desirable ratio.

Food sources of monounsaturated fats include avocado, olives, olive oil, and many nuts and seeds. Lean meat contains about equal amounts of monounsaturated and saturated fats.

A healthy diet contains a variety of foods including plenty of cereals, grains, vegetables and fruit, moderate amounts of lean meats and dairy foods, and small amounts of fats, sugars and alcohol.

People also ask

Interesting facts about fats in food

Good and Bad fats - What are Fats

Let’s use the example of fats in our diet to show how one food can have both good and bad points.

Some of the good points about fats are:

  • Fat is nature’s way of storing high concentrations of energy in the good times, for later use in the hungry times;
  • Fat is vital for many of your bodies metabolic functions, especially in women, where there are many hormones associated with fats and fat stores.
  • Fats aids in the absorption and digestion of vitamins A, D, E and K;
  • Fat is an important component of cell tissue;
  • Fat insulates the body against cold;
  • Fat is used by the body as a shock absorber, such as on the soles of your feet, and around the kidneys.

Some of the bad points about fats are:

  • High levels of fat in the diet are linked to death from heart disease, and with high levels of potentially harmful cholesterol levels; a high fat intake is linked to certain forms of cancer; and
  • Fat has more than twice the calories of carbohydrates. Excessive fat in your diet can lead to increased body fat, and obesity.

If you want to develop a sensible attitude towards eating, you should:

  • Reduce the amount of fat in your diet, but don’t eliminate fats completely;
  • Increase the amount of complex carbohydrates you eat, such as complex starches such as wholegrain flours, complex sugars such as in fruit, and high fiber foods such a vegetables;
  • Balance out the calories you eat with enough regular, low level activity to keep your body lean.

Difference between Animal Fats and Vegetable Oils

Animal fats, vegetable oils, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol. What do these terms mean?

The terms animal fats and vegetable oils refer to their sources. Vegetable oils are usually unsaturated and liquid at room temperature. (Saturation has to do with its chemical makeup). Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

If an oil is treated by hydrogenation to make it solid at room temperature, it becomes more saturated. Therefore, products like margarine made from vegetable oils, may not be unsaturated at all.

Cholesterol is a substance found in animal fats. It has been found in greater amounts than usual in the blood of people with coronary heart disease and has thus been linked with it.

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