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Dietary fats- essential component for a healthy life

dietary fats

Fats, usually referred to as dietary fats, are the most vital substances in our bodies. Our forefathers were classified as “fat hunters’ ‘, because we, as homo sapiens, need fats for our survival. Nonetheless, between 720 and 811 million people were undernourished and more thsn 45 million tons of fats per year is required for consumption.  We shall study about dietary fats and the constantly changing studies on them in the piece that follows.

What are dietary fats?

Dietary lipids, sometimes referred to as dietary fats, are a type of nutrition that supports many biological activities and gives the body energy. Together with proteins and carbs, they are one of the three macronutrients that our bodies require in large amounts in order to sustain good health.

dietary fibre

Fatty acids, which are made up of numerous long chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, make up fats. The number of hydrogen atoms in the chemical structure of these fatty acids determines whether they are categorised as saturated or unsaturated. Unsaturated fatty acids include at least one double bond, while saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between their carbon atoms.

Yet it’s crucial to remember that not all dietary fats are created equal, and some are better for you than others. Unsaturated fats (such those found in nuts, seeds, seafood, and vegetable oils) have been related to a lower risk of heart disease, whereas saturated and trans fats have been connected to an increased risk of heart disease.

As a result, it’s crucial to consume dietary fats in moderation and, whenever possible, choose for healthy sources of fat.

Role of dietary fats in our body

Dietary fats have a number of vital functions in our bodies. Following are a few of the essential functions of dietary fats:

Energy source: At 9 calories per gramme, fats are a plentiful source of energy. They act as the body’s main source of energy and provide fuel when blood glucose (sugar) levels are low.

Cell membrane: The protective outer layer of cells, called the cell membrane, is made up primarily of fats. They control what enters and leaves the cell and aid in maintaining the integrity of the cell membrane.

Production of hormones: Fats are essential for the synthesis of a number of hormones, including adrenal hormones like cortisol and sex hormones like testosterone and oestrogen.

Brain growth: Several types of lipids are essential for brain growth and function because the brain is around 60% fat. Omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, are crucial for memory and cognitive function.

Vitamin absorption: Some vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble, which means that the body needs lipids in order to absorb and use them.

Insulation and protection: Fats give our bodies insulation, which keeps us warm, and they cushion and protect our organs.

Taste and satiety: Foods with fats have a better flavour and texture, which makes them more pleasurable to eat. They also aid in fostering post-meal sensations of satiety and fullness, which can aid in preventing overeating.

Types of dietary fats 

Dietary fats can be divided into four categories: trans fats, omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats, and saturated fats. Each form of fat has a unique chemical composition and nutrient profile, and depending on the quantity you consume, they may have various negative consequences on your health.

Saturated fats

They can be found in animal products including meat, cheese, and butter and are normally solid at room temperature. Certain plant-based oils, such as coconut and palm oil, also contain them. Consuming excessive amounts of saturated fat can raise blood levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise the risk of developing heart disease.

Saturated fats in foods

Saturated fats are a type of fat that are normally solid at room temperature and are present in a wide variety of foods, especially those that are derived from animals. Many typical sources of saturated fat are as follows:

  • Meats having visible fat, such as beef, hog, lamb, and other meats.
  • Sausages, bacon, salami, and other processed meats are examples.
  • Dairy goods include whole milk, cheese, butter, cream, and other high-fat dairy items.
  • Coconut oil and palm oil are tropical oils that are frequently used in baked goods and processed foods.
  • Chips, crackers, and other processed treats

Unsaturated fats

These can be found in plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils like olive and canola oil. They are liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are two further categories of unsaturated fats. When ingested in moderation, monounsaturated fats, such those in avocados and almonds, have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. In addition to being beneficial for heart and brain health, polyunsaturated fats, like those found in fatty fish like salmon, can also help decrease blood pressure.

Unsaturated fats in food

Unsaturated fats, which are different from saturated and trans fats in that they are normally liquid at room temperature, are thought to be healthier. They are present in a variety of foods, especially those that are plant-based. Unsaturated fat can be found in various places, including:

  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds rich in healthful unsaturated fats include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and others.
  • Monounsaturated fats—which are abundant in avocado—have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Fatty fish: Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other fatty fish, can help reduce inflammation in the body and lessen the risk of heart disease.
  • Vegetable oils: High in unsaturated fats, olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and other vegetable oils can be used in cooking or as a salad dressing.
  • Products made from soy: Tofu, tempeh, and other soy products are excellent sources of protein and unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fat sources can help you lower your chance of developing chronic diseases and enhance your heart health. Yet, because they still contain a lot of calories, it’s crucial to consume these fats in moderation.

Trans fat

 They are frequently present in processed foods such as fried foods, pastries, and snack foods. They are produced by hydrogenating vegetable oil, a process that transforms the oil into a solid. Trans fats can elevate LDL cholesterol and increase the chance of developing heart disease.

Trans fat in food

Trans fats are frequently used in processed foods because they can enhance the product’s texture and shelf life, but when ingested in excess, they can have harmful consequences on one’s health.

Foods that frequently contain trans fats include:

  • Foods that are fried: French fries, fried chicken, and other fried foods are frequently prepared in partly hydrogenated oils, which can produce trans fat.
  • Baked foods: Because they are prepared with partly hydrogenated vegetable oil, cookies, cakes, pastries, and other baked goods frequently contain trans fats.
  • Margarine: Although many businesses have modified their products to eliminate or reduce trans fats, some varieties of margarine still contain these fats.
  • Snack items that have been processed, such as chips, crackers, and popcorn

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat that can be found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and fatty seafood like salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids can aid in reducing inflammation in the body and are beneficial for heart and brain function.

Omega-3 fatty acids in food

Omega-3 fatty acids are frequently found in the following foods:

  • Fatty fish: The finest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid, are salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring, and others (DHA).
  • Nuts and seeds: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a form of omega-3 fatty acid that may be turned into EPA and DHA in the body, is found in foods including walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
  • Plant oils: Soybean, flaxseed, and canola oils are excellent sources of ALA.
  • Supplements: For people who don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, there are supplements made of fish oil and algae.

Evolving research on dietary fats

While it has long been believed that saturated fats are bad for you, recent research suggests that the kind of saturated fat you consume may matter more than you might have realised. For instance, according to some research, consuming saturated fat from dairy products may not be as bad for you as consuming saturated fat from other sources. Also, contrary to what was previously thought, there may be more nuance to the link between dietary intake of saturated fat and the risk of developing heart disease.

There is ample proof that trans fats are unhealthy, and numerous nations have taken action to prohibit or restrict their usage in processed foods. Nonetheless, other studies imply that naturally occurring trans fats (such as those present in dairy and animal products) might not be as harmful to health as synthetic trans fats.

While unsaturated fats are generally thought to be healthful, research is still being done to determine the exact types and how they affect our bodies. For instance, some studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids may be very helpful for lowering inflammation and enhancing brain function, whilst other studies indicate that omega-6 fatty acids (found in many vegetable oils) may have detrimental impacts on health when ingested.

Research is increasingly concentrating on general dietary patterns rather than specific nutrients or foods. For instance, a lower risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases has been linked to the Mediterranean diet, which places an emphasis on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and olive oil. Nevertheless, other research implies that the type of fats consumed—for example, those derived from whole foods as opposed to processed meals—might be more significant than the total amount of fat consumed.

It doesn’t matter how we maintain our health and fitness. But it is clear that the food we eat during the day has a big impact on how we feel. Having such foods that are nourishing and healthy enough for our body and organs is always advised.

Indians are now more committed to maintaining healthy eating habits. They are working towards living a balanced life that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise. Nonetheless, some people require assistance in keeping up a nutritious diet. We have an even better choice for those who want to speak with a dietitian. MediPocket world has board-certified dieticians from the United States that can assist Indian people with their diet plans. For the first time, Indians can have a chance to talk with a dietician from the US and have a much better diet plan for your life. Subscribe now to get consultation through MediPocket world.


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