Fats, or lipids, got a pretty bad rep in the 1980s and 1990s in the United States. The government realized that people were consuming more calories, and gaining more weight. Their solution was to recommend that people cut down on fat intake since fat contains 9 calories per gram while carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories per gram. The food industry took this concept and ran with it – soon everything was low-fat and fat free. The downside was that more salt and sugar(carbohydrate) were added to increase flavor and satisfaction, and did not actually change the calorie content. We were eating more carbs, and less fat, and gaining just as much weight.
Fats are absolutely essential for the human body. Only fats can carry fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. The female body requires a higher percentage of fat than the male body to survive and function properly.
Fats (or lipids) are a group of compounds that include triglycerides (fats and oils), phospholipids, and sterols.
Fat from food sources come in 4 different forms: Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, Saturated, Trans-Fat. The degree of saturation depends on the number of double bonds in its carbon chain. The more bonds, the less saturated.
Digestion of fats begin in the mouth, move to the stomach, and is completed in the small intestine. Fat has a lower thermic effect than other macronutrients as it is the easiest nutrient to convert inside the body.
A high Polyunsaturated– to-Saturated fat ratio is desirable.
A diet consisting of more that 35% of fat leads to overeating due to the lack of food volume and fiber.
Fats are required for:
- Energy storage and use
- Cellular membrane structure and function
- Precursors to hormones
- Cellular Signals
- Regulation & excretion of nutrients in cell