Fats are crucial for proper health and the overall functioning of your body. Fats act as a source of energy and essential fats that enhance the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. They form an essential part of your diet. Your body can not absorb soluble vitamins like Vitamin A without some fats in your diet. Therefore we shall discuss some facts about fats that you should know.
There are various kinds of fats such as the saturated and the unsaturated diet. Saturated fats will normally be solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats will be liquid at room temperature. Trans fatty acids or simply the trans fats and the saturated fats can cause negative health effects like heart disease. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, will lower the risk of you getting some diseases like cancer and other heart diseases. Other kinds of fats like the mono and the polyunsaturated will raise healthy cholesterol levels as well as lower your bad cholesterol.
- How your body uses fats
As I mentioned previously, our bodies use fats to absorb the fat soluble vitamins. Fats will also supply energy to your body, insulate the body, cushion organs as well as to build your cell membranes.
- Required quantity of fats in your diet
Most adults receive fewer than 30 percent of their total calories from fats. For instance, most people who normally consume about 2000 calories a day are advised to limit their fat intake to around 65g. The American Diabetics Association (ADA) normally recommend limiting your total calories intake of the saturated fats to around 7 percent. Monounsaturated are supposed to constitute around 10 percent of your total calories intake. Only around 10 percent of your total calories intake should account for polyunsaturated fats. Try and avoid the Trans fats as much as you can.
- Foods that contain high percentage of fats
Most of the foods that we take constitute a mixture of both saturated and unsaturated fats. Try and eat the foods that are low in saturated fats and the Trans and focus more of the type of foods with high percentages of mono and polyunsaturated fats. The following list will help you better select your sources of fats.
a) Saturated fats
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Red meat
- Ice cream
- Whole milk
b) Trans fats
- Snack chips
- Deep fried foods
- Peanut butter
- Imitation cheese
c) Polyunsaturated fats
- Fish oil
- Corn oil
- Sunflower oil
- The facts about unsaturated fats
Dietary fats are either unsaturated or saturated. Unsaturated fats (both mono and polyunsaturated) are supposed to be the dominant type of fats in a diet as they significantly reduce the risk of your arteries getting clogged. While food will tend to contain a mixture of any of these fats, monounsaturated fats are the fats primarily found in;
- Nuts, cashews, peanuts and peanut butter
- Canola, olive and sesame oils
Polyunsaturated fats are found primarily in;
- Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
- Soybean oil and soybeans
- Tub margarine
- Cottonseed, Safflower oils, and corn
- Facts on Omega -3 fats
When it comes to the fats that are good for you, the sea foods come out on top. Seafood contains types of Omega-3 fats called Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Unsaturated fats are considered crucial to a child’s brain and eyesight development as well as the general heart health.
Generally, there is a link between Omega-3 fats and minor levels of blood triglycerides. In addition to this, a reduced risk of blood clots that hinder the blood flow to the brain and heart. They also help the body maintaining a healthy heartbeat among other health benefits.
Seafood normally contains pre-formed Omega 3 fats, which is the type our body prefers. Children and adults will normally make EPA and DHA from the essential alpha-linolenic acid. This acid is in foods such as flax and walnuts. However, nutritionists say that the body only converts less than 10 percent. Cold water fish such as sardines and tuna are especially rich in pre-formed Omega 3s.
- Facts on unhealthy saturated fats
When taken in excess, saturated fats are the major contributors to clogged arteries. Clogged arteries normally block the blood flow thereby increasing your chances of stroke or heart attack. When it comes to raising your blood cholesterol levels, saturated fats are usually worse than dietary cholesterol. This increases your risk capacity for stroke and other heart diseases.
Saturated fats are concentrated in dairy foods such as ice cream, cheese, and whole milk as well as in fatty meats. Animal fats are the primary source of most saturated fats in your diet. It is also not advisable to take palm, palm oil, coconut oil, kernel oil and cocoa butter as they contain highly saturated vegetable oils that are also unhealthy. Packaged foods such as milk chocolate, crackers, snack chips, and cookies mostly use these products.
- Facts on Trans fats
Just like the saturated fats, trans fats also contribute to clogged arteries. There is a link of trans fats to certain types of cancer as well such as colorectal and breast in population studies.
Harvard University researchers from the School of Public Health estimated that just by eliminating trans fats from the American diet, there would be a prevention of around a quarter of a million heart attacks and related deaths in that year. As a matter of fact, most of the trans fats we eat are as a result of hydrogenation. Hydrogenation converts oils into a firmer and tastier product with a longer shelf life. This process converts some of the unsaturated fats to saturated.
There is no dietary requirement for trans fats, but it is almost impossible to avoid them. So you can help yourself by reading the nutrition food labels, but there is a hitch.
- Facts on kids and fats
Dietary fats normally help a kid to grow physically. It also helps the child develop as it should. Fats are like fuel to the kid’s body and will help in absorbing some of the vitamins. They also act as the building blocks of hormones as well as insulating the nervous system tissue in the body.
So fat is not your enemy, but you might want to choose the right kind and amount for your kid. If you are obtaining most of your fats from lean meats and heart friendly oils, you already made friends with fats.
- Facts on reduced dairy products fats
Dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese are nutritious dietary foods. Though these foods contain high levels of calcium and vitamins, their full-fat characteristics contain saturated fats. The Australian Dietary Guidelines of 2013 advice that children of age 2+ years be encouraged to take fat milk and other dairy products in low quantities.
It is not advisable to give your child reduced fat milk or other dairy products to children below the age of 2 years. Milk is usually a primary source of energy and bodily growth during this period. As the child grows, it depends on less milk as a source of energy. You can introduce reduced fat dairy products as the source of energy.
- Facts on large intake of fats
In addition to a high intake of calories, excessive intake of fats will normally lead to an increased level of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. Add that to the fact that certain types of fats carry a significantly higher risk than others. For instance, even when taken under guidelines, trans fats contribute to a greater risk of you obtaining cardiovascular diseases.
Studies also reflect that a high intake of saturated fats can lead to an increase in the risk of obtaining type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cutting down on saturated fats intake has been known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, it has been proven to improve your vision and brain function significantly.