What You Need to Know About Fats

What You Need to Know about Fats

Every time we hear the word fat, we tend to see it as something negative, and nothing could be further from the truth. Fats are necessary, but we need to know how to differentiate them.

Fats constitute the energy reserve in the fatty or adipose tissue and help to regulate body temperature. They are part of the cell membranes rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which allow them to control the entry and exit of nutrients.

They facilitate the transport of liposoluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and are components of the steroid hormones: adrenal, sexual, and placental. Essential fats are broken down into prostaglandins that control the functioning of the body.

The body needs good fats, the essential fats that contain healthy proportions of unsaturated fatty acids: omega 3 and 6.

An average diet has an excess of saturated fatty acids and a deficit of unsaturated fatty acids, which leads to obesity and diseases caused by overweight.

Types of Fats in the Diet

Unsaturated Fats

When we require extraordinary effort, our body tends to consume energy from sugars and certain types of more active and less stable fats.

This type of fat is called unsaturated, which is characterized by lasting a very short time in our body, it is estimated that days, and even hours.

They are usually found in a liquid state at room temperature, which is why their most common presentation is in the form of oils. We sometimes call them good fats because they control high cholesterol levels and heart-related diseases.

Among unsaturated fats, we find two groups

Monounsaturated Fats

They are a type of lipids that, when cooled thicken a little more, as is the case with olive oil. We can find them in olives, avocados, or nuts like almonds, peanuts, or hazelnuts.

Polyunsaturated Fats

They remain liquid at room temperature but solidify if refrigerated, as is the case with fish, sunflower or soybean oils, even in shellfish, blue fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines or anchovies.

They contain Omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are necessary for proper hormonal, enzymatic and brain function, cell membranes, and the condition of the skin, hair, and nails. This makes them recommendable to help in the treatment of arthritis, osteoarthritis, eczema, and psoriasis.

Saturated Fats

Are those that can be stored for more time without becoming rancid, so they are used in food processing at an industrial level. They allow longer conservation of food and provide more flavor.

As they are less active but more stable and durable, these fats are better stored in our body to serve as a reserve for times of less activity.

If we add to their consumption certain habits of sedentariness so common in modern life, these fats tend to accumulate and end up blocking our arteries, generating problems in the circulatory system.

These lipids are present in red meat, pork lard, sausages, cured cheeses and fatty meats from pork and lamb.

At room temperature, they are solid and are responsible, if consumed excessively, for high cholesterol levels, obesity, heart and artery disease, and high blood pressure.

Trans Fats

These are a type of unsaturated fatty acids that are submitted to Hydrogenation, as occurs with the production of margarine, where vegetable oils are taken and hydrogenated to solidify them.

They are usually present in foods related to fast food, industrial bakery, processed foods, and fried foods.

Excessive consumption of these types of foods can cause overweight problems. According to recent studies, they are responsible for many cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and are associated with an increased risk of developing some types of cancer.

How Should You Chose?

To stay fit and eat a balanced diet, our diets should include more foods that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids than saturated ones, because they are not only necessary, but also healthier and help eliminate stores of unhealthy fatty compounds, thus controlling blood cholesterol levels, improving artery health, and promoting good blood circulation.

Fats should be consumed according to the type of activity that we do every day. It is not the same food intake that a growing child needs, that the needs of a young person who plays sports daily or works performing physical effort, or the nutritional contributions that will require an adult with sedentary habits, which will be significantly lower.

Based on all this, we must establish which fats are most appropriate for each of us, always according to our lifestyle.

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