Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fats Fats Fats

Fats have a bad reputation in the media.

"Fats are bad."
"Fats clog arteries. They lead to heart attacks."
"Don't eat fats when you're trying to lose weight." 

Well, guess what? Fats are essential in your body. You need to consume fats. And, guess what. Low fat diets don't help you at all. Fat is one of the macro nutrients and they are essential to life.
Here is some of the roles of fat:
  1. They are energy dense (9 calories per gram)
  2. unlimited energy storage
  3. They are a main fuel source during rest. 
  4. They transport fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. 
  5. They are important in cell membrane structure and important with nerve cell transmission.
  6. They protect internal organs and insulate. 
  7. They add flavor and texture to food. 
  8. and, they help with the feeling of being full.

One of the things we need to know is about triglycerides. They are the most common form of fat in food and our body. It is stored in the body and circulates in our blood.
Now, let's talk about the types of fat. Here's a brief overview:
Saturated fatty acids have hydrogen atoms surrounding every carbon in the chain. No double bonds.
  • meat products (hamburgers, steak, french fries)
  • dairy products
  • coconut
Monounsaturated fatty acids lack hydrogen atoms in one region. One double bond.
  • olive oil
  • canola oil
  • nuts
  Polyunsaturated fatty acids lack hydrogen atoms in multiple locations. Two or more double bonds.
  • salmon
  • flaxseed
  • seeds/nuts
  • soy
  • avocado 
Some of these foods overlap with  the types of fat  they have.

Trans fatty acids occur with hydrogenation, the addition of hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fatty acids. Hydrogen atoms are at the opposite sides of the fatty acid chain. Hydrogenation:
  • Converts liquid fats (oils) into a semi-solid (spreadable) or solid form
  • Is used to create margarine from plant oil
  • Advantages: increased shelf-life/stability; texture; spreadable product; flavor 
As it turns out, both trans fat and saturated fat are equally bad for the health. Limit the consumption of these two fats as much as possible. These two stimulate the production of cholesterol in the liver. 
Cholesterol is an essential part of the cell membrane, especially the brain and nerve cells. It is also a precursor to many hormones made in the body. As you know, you've heard of the "good" and "bad" cholesterol. 
The "bad" cholesterol is known as the LDL, low- density lipoprotein. This transports cholesterol to the cells of the body. The "good" cholesterol is known as the HDL, high-density lipoprotein. This transports excess cholesterol back to the liver and tells the liver to stop making cholesterol when it's not needed. However, if there is too much saturated fat and trans fat in the diet, it can increase the levels of LDL and lower the levels of HDL. This causes excess blood lipids (LDL) in the body, which can get stuck in the arterial walls. After that, it gets oxidized and start forming plaque. It decreases the artery's elasticity and continuous progression and obstruct blood flow, causing higher blood pressure. If it progresses, it can eventually block that whole artery and cause a stroke or heart attack. Saturated fat and trans fat are really bad for the health since it reduces the HDL, which removes excess cholesterol, preventing it from oxidizing. Now, when doctors look at blood cholesterol, they mainly look at the LDL to HDL ratio. They don't look at the total cholesterol as much. The LDL to HDL ratio should be two to one.

As it turns out, all foods have a mixture of fatty acids.
  •  Animal fat – 40-60% saturated fatty acids (SFA)
  • Plants – 80-90% mono- (MUFA) and poly-(PUFA) unsaturated fat. 
  • Most oils are a mixture of fatty acid type. Animal-based diets are higher in saturated fat, generally in meat and dairy
 The body needs its:
Essential fatty acid (EFA) is a fatty acid that cannot be synthesized in the body in amounts sufficient to meet physiological need.
  • There are 2 in humans – both are polyunsaturated fatty acids:
    • Linoleic (lin-oh-LAY-ic) acid, omega- 6
      • involved in blood clotting and blood pressure and is important in cell walls.
    • Alpha-Linolenic (lin-oh-LEN-ic) acid, omega -3
      • important regulators of inflammation, blood clotting and blood pressure, cardiac function, blood triglycerides       
          So, that's all I have to say about fats today. Did you guys learn anything new about fats?

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