Fats are necessary for a healthy diet. On the fatfree diets, those who possessed enough will power to remain fat free for any length of time developed a variety of health problems including low energy, difficulty in concentration, depression, weight gain and mineral deficiencies.
Fats are irreplaceable energy assets to the body. Fats provide 9kcal of energy per gram consumed making them a more concentrated form of energy than carbs and proteins.All the excess carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are stored as fat reserve in the form of triglycerides. When the body is out of glucose for energy it uses stored triglycerides as alternative energy.
At the cellular level fats are the building blocks of cell membranes. Cell membranes protect the cell and its components from spilling into the extra cellular environment.
At the organ level fat provides protection and structure to our internal organs and protects them from damaging shocks and trauma.
A fascinating new study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that dietary fat is necessary for the absorption of nutrients from fruits and vegetables. In the study, people who consumed salads with fat-free salad dressing absorbed far less of the helpful phytonutrients and vitamins from spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots than those who consumed their salads with a salad dressing containing fat.
Also, eating a meal containing fat makes it flavorful and helps slow down the digestive process and make us feel full for a longer period of time.
Fats are vital for our hormone production. Sexual hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are made from cholesterol. They also help regulate our body’s temperature. Brown fat conforms to the spinal colon, neck and the body. Every time weconsume excess calories it gets activated and raises our body temperature to burn fatfaster.
Benefits of Mono, Poly, Saturated and Essential Fats
A molecule of any fat is made up of a molecule of glycerol and three fatty acids. This composition is named triglyceride. This is why triglycerides make up 95 % of the fats in foods and in our bodies. Fatty acids which are a component of triglycerides are classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Saturated Fats have tendency to be solid at room temperature, because the molecules are dense and stick to each other. This makes them stable; and protects them from oxidation and from going rancid. They are found in animal fat, dairy products as in milk, cheese, butter and yogurt, coconut oil and palm oil.
Short and medium chain saturated fatty acids have antimicrobial characteristics, thus enhancing the attributes of the immune system and protecting the digestive tract against viruses, unfriendly bacteria and fungus. Besides, the short and medium chain saturated fatty acids do not burden the digestive system; because they are readily available for absorption by the body for rapid energy.
According to Fallon and Enig(2007). a diet rich in saturated fat which should be at least 50% of the dietary fat; protects the liver, enhance the immune system, prevents heart disease, helps the body’s tissues use essential fatty acids efficiently and play a vital role in the health of the body’s bones.
Monounsaturated fats have tendency to be liquid at room temperature. They are relativelystable, they don’t go rancid easily. They move a little faster in the body. They digest easily. They are found in olive oil, avocado, almonds, and cashews. Our body produces monounsaturated fats from saturated fat.
According to Beale and Clark (2005).health benefits of monounsaturated fats aboundand include the following:
- They help reduce insulin resistance.
- They lower blood level of LDL without affecting the level of HDL.
- They are more chemically stable fats and, as such, may help in protecting against certain cancers, such as breast cancer and colon cancer.
- They help support the immune system.
- They don’t produce inflammatory prostaglandins in the body like some fats, so they are protective and help with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and heart disease.
- In the right amount, they help you lose weight.
Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at all time. They are very volatile, they go rancid easily. They need special handling. The two polyunsaturated fats found in our food are linoleic acid or omega 6 and linolenic acid or omega 3. Our body cannot produce these fats, so they are called essential fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in sunflower seeds oil, soy oil, canola oil, and corn oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish oil like salmon, sardines, anchovies, and in flax seeds and chia seeds.
According to Blaylock (2006) the N-6 fats (omega 6) play a major role in how cells work. They areessential in small amounts. N-3 oils (omega 3) offer a cornucopia of healthy benefits well beyond any known pharmaceutical drugs in terms of efficacy and safety. Because they modulate immune inflammatory reactions in the body, the N-3 oils, especially DHA, can play a major role in preventing and treating a wide array of diseases, such as diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, vaccine reactions, atherosclerosis (heart attacks and strokes), cancer, stomach ulcers, and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS). In addition, they aid in weight loss and improve brain function.
Quality of the Source and Impact on Health
Concerning fat and oils, the quality of the source has a tremendous impact on health. Fat in raw milk from grazing cows are rich in omega 3, but fat in regular milk has negligible amounts of omega 3. Free roaming and grass fed animal fats are much healthier, nutritious and beneficial to the body than corn fed, nature deprived, indoor living animal fats. These animal fats are filled with antibiotics, pesticides, insecticides, sex and growth hormones and many other toxic chemicals.
The oils that are cold pressed, unheated, unrefined and unadulterated are safe and provide nutritional benefits to the body. While the oils that are extracted using chemicals, which are filtered and pasteurized contain tremendous amounts of free radicals and cause chronic inflammation once in the body. Also hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils; because of their high amount of trans-fat have been linked directly in many studies to atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
the Opposing Research on Fat, Cholesterol, and Heart Health
Halford (2004). explains that back in 1913 a Russian scientist, Dr. Anitschkov, thought he had the answer. He found that feeding cholesterol (an animal fat) to rabbits induced heart disease. Halford (2004).adds that what he failed to realize was that rabbits, being vegetarians, have no means of dealing with this animal fat. When researchers discovered that the fatty deposits in the arteries of people with heart disease contained high amounts of cholesterol, the conclusion was made that these plaques were the result of high cholesterol in the blood, which may have been caused by excess cholesterol in the diet. This myth was dismantled by a study done in 1975; a research team headed by Dr. Alfin-Slater from the University of California decided to test the cholesterol theory. They selected 50 healthy individuals with normal blood cholesterol levels. Half of them were fed 2 eggs per day (in addition to the other cholesterol-rich foods they were already eating as part of their normal diet) for 8 weeks. The other half were fed 1 extra egg per day for 4 weeks, then 2 extra eggs per day for the next4 weeks. The results showed no change in blood cholesterol (Halford, 2004).