What is Fat?
Fat is an essential part of our diet and nutrition, and we cannot live without it.Our bodies require small amounts of ‘good fat’ to function and help prevent disease. However, a lot of modern diets contain far more fat than the body needs. Too much fat, especially too much of the wrong type of fat, can cause serious health complaints including obesity, higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which in turn lead to a greater risk of heart disease.
Dietary fats make food tasty they often improve the texture of food as well as flavour and smell – they make food more appealing. In the UK, the Department of Health suggests that no more than 35% of total calories should come from fat. In the US, recommended fat intake is 30% of total calorie intake. In reality most Western diets derive at least 40% (and sometimes a lot more) of their energy from fats.
Types of Fat
Saturated and Unsaturated
The two main types of fat are saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are generally considered better for us than saturated fats.
The reason that unsaturated fats are better is down to the molecular structure of fat. Saturated fat molecules form regular shapes that clump together easily; unsaturated fat molecules however, form irregular shapes that cannot clump together so easily. Saturated fat is therefore more likely to stick to the sides of arteries and allow other saturated fat molecules to build up; this can gradually clog the arteries leading to higher blood pressure and making it more difficult for the heart to pump oxygen rich blood around the body.
Fats are not soluble in water (or blood) and unless this problem is addressed – usually through change in diet and increased exercise – it can lead to serious health problems such as coronary heart disease.
Benifits of Fats
1.Better Body Composition
Eating a greater proportion of your calories from fat can help you achieve optimal body composition. Your body requires a decent amount of fat
2: More Muscle
Having more beneficial fat in your diet produces muscle gain with training because it supports hormone balance and recovery from intense exercise. A higher fat diet with simultaneous carb restriction can elevate growth hormone, which inhibits muscle breakdown.
3.Reduce Cancer Risk
Eating “good” fats as part of a diet that optimizes macronutrient intake for glucose management and decreased inflammation will reduce cancer risk. Research suggests that omega brichoils promote cancer progression and metastasis, whereas monounsaturated fat, such as that found in olive has a protective effect.
4.Better Brain Function & Mood with Less Risk of Depression
Your brain is mainly made of cholesterol and fat, most of which should be essential fatty acids, in particular DHA. The precise characteristics of the lipid layer of brain neurons influences electrical properties, which dictate everything from mood to neuromuscular function to cognition.
Deficiency Symptoms of Fats
Fat-Soluble Vitamin Deficiencies
You can develop deficiencies of vitamins A, D, E and K if you don’t get enough fat in your diet because your body can only absorb these nutrients in the presence of fat. Vitamin A deficiency symptoms can include dry skin, night blindness, increased susceptibility to infections and problems with bone and tooth development. Not absorbing enough vitamin D can cause soft and weak bones, and too little vitamin K can lead to increased bleeding.
You need the essential fatty acids for keeping your skin healthy, so not getting enough fat in your diet can cause skin problems. An essential fatty acid deficiency increases the loss of water from your skin, which results in a dry, scaly rash. This type of deficiency can also make it harder for your wounds to heal.
Two types of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, are essential for brain development. Not getting enough DHA may result in learning deficits and increase the risk for certain types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The omega-6 fat arachidonic acid is also an important component of brain tissue.
EPA and DHA are also important components of the retina, so an essential fatty acid deficiency could affect your vision. DHA helps form the pigment rhodopsin, which you need for your brain to turn the light hitting your retina into the images you see. The retina can recycle and conserve DHA, however, so even low intakes of essential fatty acids may be enough to protect your vision. Getting enough omega-3 fats in your diet may help lower your risk for dry eyes and age-related macular degeneration