FATS-WHAT ARE THEY

This is one of the macro nutrients. The chemical name for fats and related compounds such as cholesterol is lipids. Liquid fats are called oils and solid fats are called fat. Fats are high energy nutrients. Gram for gram, fats have more than twice as much energy as protein and carbohydrates. 1 gram fat provides 9 Kcal. A teaspoon of oil weighs about 5g and is equivalent to 45 Kcal of energy. To maintain good health we need to reduce our total fat/oil intake to between 15-30% of our energy intake. If the average person uses about 2000kcal of energy per day, then the maximum fats that can be taken in by this person per day is 30% of 2000 kcal which is 600kcal. This translates to 600kcal/9 = 66g of fat/oil (about 5 Tablespoons). This includes hidden fats, oils added during food preparation, oils naturally present in foods like meats, whole milk, cheese etc. Some highly active individuals may need more fat/oil and the sedentary individuals will need less.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ROLE OF FAT – Positive role: – Provides a source of stored energy – Cushions the skin and organs in the body – Fat under the skin acts as an insulator, reducing heat loss – Part of cell membranes/outer layer – Essential fatty acids are components of brain and nerve cells – Adds taste to food Negative role: Too much fats may be harzadous to health – Too much of fats can make you obese – Obesity increases risk for Stroke, hypertension, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, some cancers – Excessive intakes of some types of fats may result in gradual clogging of blood vessels leading to strokes or heart attacks in the future

IS THERE ANYTHING LIKE GOOD FATS AND BAD FATS?: Yes. Fats in food may either be classified as good fats or bad fats depending on its impact on health. Good fats promote good health, while bad fats do not promote good health. Rule of thumb: Limit intake of bad fats considerably, and moderate intakes of good fats. Excess of total fats will increase risk for obesity. Test for good and bad fats: Good fats are liquid at room temperature and remain liquid when chilled. Bad fats are solid at room temperature and become harder when chilled.

MORE ABOUT GOOD FATS :These refer to oils that have a high proportion of fatty acids (building blocks of fats) that promote good health compared to the bad fatty acids. These good fatty acids are called essential fatty acids as the body cannot produce them by itself and would have to get them from food. These essential fatty acids are omega 6 (linoleic) and omega 3 (linolenic) fatty acids which are polyunsaturated fatty acids and are liquid at room temperature and remain liquid when chilled. The Omega 3 fatty acids are more beneficial than omega 6, however an oil with a good balance of omega 6 and omega 3 is recommended. The recommended balance is a ratio between 1 to 5 and 1 to 10 of omega 3 to omega 6. Omega 6 fatty acids are naturally more abundant. Getting the balance right: eat more fish and less meat. 2-3 fish meals a week is recommended. Too much of omega 3 fatty acids can also cause bleeding and strokes (bleeding type). Remember, too much of a good thing can be bad. Benefits of moderate intakes of omega 3: – Helps to relieve joint inflammation, swelling and pain – Promotes heart health: reduces risk of blood clots/reduces bad cholesterol in the blood – Promotes the formation of healthy bones by helping with the formation of vitamin D in the body – Regulates blood pressure – Regulates immune function Sources of Omega 3: Fish oils from fish Canola oil Soyabean oil Flaxseed oil Walnut oil Salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, tuna, mackerel, scallops, haddock Kale, spinach, broccoli (it is important to find out levels in our own vegetables) Sources of Omega 6 fatty acids: Sunflower oil Corn oil Safflower oil Mono unsaturated fats – another good fat These are also fats/oils that have their predominant fatty acids being those that promote good health. Examples include olive oil, peanut oil. They are liquid at room temperature and thicker when chilled. They have neutral effect on body’s synthesis of cholesterol hence supportive of heart health.

WHAT ARE BAD FATS: These are fats/oils that have the predominant fatty acids being those that do not promote good health. These are solid at room temperature and become harder when chilled. These fatty acids are concentrated in animal kind of fats such butter, beef tallow, lard, all animal fats. However some vegetable oils also have high levels. These include palm oil (though rich beta-carotene), oils derived from palm oil (palm olein), coconut oils, palm kernel oils. Bad fats are called saturated fats. High intakes of these fats increases cholesterol synthesis in the body and this gradually clog the blood vessels, causes vessels to lose elasticity, increases risk for clotting in the vessels. A blocked heart vessel may lead to heart attack. If blockage occurs in the brain it could lead to stroke.
Note: all fat or oils have a combination of saturated and unsaturated fats, depending on which one predominates fats may be classified as good or bad fat.

TRANS FATS- ANOTHER BAD FAT: These do not support good health. These come about when oils which are originally unsaturated are saturated by the addition of hydrogen atoms. This process known as hydrogenation turns oils into solid fat that can be used in products such as margarines. Note: not all margarines contain trans fats. You can tell by reading the label. If the ingredient list has hydrogenated oils listed, then surely that margarine contains trans fats. Trans fats come about during the hydrogenation process. Research shows that they are even more harmful than saturated fats in increasing cholesterol synthesis in the body and clogging the blood vessels. Baked goods do have some amounts of trans fats.