A primer on Fat and its importance

In this modern age, more thrust is being given to totally avoid or restrict the intake of fat or be conscious of fat, primarily to avoid being obese and/or maintain the body in a trim way.

Avoiding fat altogether is not a wise solution and some sort of fat is essential for the body, is what many nutitionists and doctors prescribe.

Are fats really that harmful? What actually are they and what is their role in our body and health?

Fat is nothing but energy in a highly concentrated form. Foods having too much of fat content do contain a number of calories, and increased consumption of more fat results in accumulation of calories in excess of what we burn on a normal day out, and this excess fat content might result in obesity. In addition, higher fat content in the body leads to heart related diseases and also increases the cholesterol content in the blood.

Fearing for obesity or other ailments, one should not avoid taking fat content on a daily basis, reiterate the doctors and nutitionists. Why?

Fat is vital for the effective functioning of the body. Fatty tissues present in the body act as a storehouse for essential vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E, which are soluble in fat. Fat is essentially required to produce some hormones, stimulates the activities in the gall bladder and also ensures that the nervous system is functioning effectively. By storing fat in the form of layers beneath the skin, one can feel the warmth of the body.

There is one compelling reason why one should take some sort of fat in a daily dosage of meals to the body. The body cannot synthesize two fatty acids in the body on its own. They are nothing but linnleic acid and linolenic acid. These two acids are very essential, similar to the 24 amino acids in protein, for the body and are called as “essential fatty acids”.

Cholesterol is one of the outcomes of fat. It is nothing but a fat-based molecule whichis effectively used as a building block for hormones and cell membranes in the body. This cholesterol is found in our blood in two different forms. One is the low-density LDL cholesterol molecules, that are capable of seeping into the artery walls because of their small size and harden the arteries. The other form is the high-density HDL cholesterol molecules. As the name suggests, these HDL cholesterol molecules remain in the blood stream as they are too big to seep in to the artery walls. It is the LDL cholesterol that is harmful. HDL cholesterol molecules, to some extent, help in mopping up the LDL cholesterol molecules.

What are the types of fat and where we can get the ideal fat required for the boy?

Fats can be broadly classified into three types – saturated fat; mono- unsaturated fat; and poly-unsaturated fat.

Saturated fats are found mostly from sources of animal origin such as butter, cream and meat. Plant sources are contribute to some saturated fats and those include palm oil and coconut oil. Most of the saturated fats are considered to be unhealthy as they are perceived to increase the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood.

The two other varieties of unsaturated fats – mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fats – are relatively better than the saturated fat varieties. It is these unsaturated fats that supply the essential fatty acids to the body which cannot synthesize itself these acids.

Mono-unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avacados etc., are considered to be more stable, and also less prone to randicity. These fats help in reducing the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood and also help in increasing the level of beneficial HDL cholesterol in the blood stream.

Poly-unsaturated fats,on the hand, are found to be unstable and more prone to become rancid quickly and also lead to formation of carcinogenic chemicals. Poly-unsaturated fat is available mainly from plant sources such as corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.

With a better understanding of the fats and their relative importance, one can moderate his intake of foods that include essentially fatty acids and the calories that are created from the food consumed are effectively burned out and there is little or no excess calorie content in the body at any point of time.