Fat is essential part of our diet and nutrition and it plays a big role in the body. It is energy dense substance providing 9 calories per gram. Fat is stored as adipose tissue in the body from where energy can be used. It helps us to survive during period of prolonged physical and mental stresses, sickness and prolonged starvation. Dietary fats make food tasty they often improve the texture of food as well as flavor and smell, making food more appealing. Fat performs the following functions in the body :-
- Fat transports vitamin A , D , E , K , which are also known as fat soluble vitamins.
- Fat provides cushion to help protect vital organs like heart , kidney , liver , lungs etc. without fat organs would be more prone to damage.
- Fat act as an insulator and prevents loss of body heat.
- Fat stimulates flow of bile and emptying of gall bladder.
- Fat plays an important role during pregnancy as it helps in the production of milk and in the growth of foetus.
- Fat also lubricates the joints.
- Fat contain essential amino fatty acid( EFA’s),which are very essential for heart and immune system. human body cannot make these EFA’s on its own , and therefore has to get it from consumed fat.
- Some fatty acids like Omega 3 may provide other health benefits like cognitive processes of brain.
Fat is required not just for optimum health but for the sustenance of life itself . There are many types of fat, each one having a specific role to play in the body. These fats can be roughly divided into following categories :-
1. Saturated fats :- They are solid at room temperature like butter, animal fats (especially red meat ), whole milk and its products , coconut oil and many baked items. Long chain fatty acids are found in animal fats. They damage cardiovascular health and are hard to digest. Ghee is basically clarified butter obtained after ilk is taken through a process of curdling and heating , which has short chain of fatty acids. These are easy to digest and promote good health. As a general rule, the fats in animal are tough to digest, while the ones found in dairy products are easily absorbed.
2. Unsaturated fats :- These are fats which are liquid at room temperature ; all oils except coconut oil. Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) is found in peanuts, olives , avocados, almonds which are very important in maintaining a healthy heart. Peanut oil and rice bran oil have a strong content of MUFA and is great for skin . Poly Unsaturated Fats (PUFA) contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 which has heart protecting values. Omega 6 is found in sunflower ,safflower and soya bean oil whereas Omega 3 is found in flax seeds, walnuts and fish oil .
3. Trans Fats:- These are made by converting unsaturated fats in to saturated fats by a process called hydrogenation. Trans-fats are commonly used by restaurants ,fast food chains and companies that produce foods on large scale and for commercial purpose, as it is cheaper. Most processed food items ,store bought cakes, biscuits and fast foods such as pizza, burger , fries etc. have this kind of fat. It is rightly called “bad fat” as it increases the low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol in the body. This is the kind of fat that is best avoided.
Consuming healthy fat in healthy amounts will actually ensure proper functioning of the body and help in optimum fat burning activities. Fats , when eaten in combination with carbohydrates and protein, work at reducing the glycemic index of food. So they slowly release sugar in the blood .This leads to effective fat burning , stable blood sugar, minimized hunger and good mood. Including peanuts and cheese in the diet can often make up a mini meal by themselves. Children who don’t get enough omega-3 can develop learning disorder.
Don’t move that fat out of your diet, instead start getting good fat in the body to keep it moving and working.