Fat is an essential part of our diet and nutrition, we cannot live without it.
Our bodies require small amounts of ‘good fat’ to function and help prevent disease. However, a lot of modern diets contain far more fat than the body needs. Too much fat, especially too much of the wrong type of fat, can cause serious health complaints including obesity, higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which in turn lead to a greater risk of heart disease.
- Fats are sources of essential fatty acids, an important dietary requirement. They provide energy as noted above.
- Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats.Fats play a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function.
- Fat also serves as a useful buffer towards a host of diseases.
- When a particular substance, whether chemical or biotic, reaches unsafe levels in the bloodstream, the body can effectively dilute—or at least maintain equilibrium of—the offending substances by storing it in new fat tissue. This helps to protect vital organs, until such time as the offending substances can be metabolized and/or removed from the body by such means as excretion, urination, accidental or intentional bloodletting, sebum excretion, and hair growth.
- Fat is essential to brain health: Did you know that brain tissue is made up of nearly 60% fat?(1) A diet low in fat actually robs your brain of the materials it needs to function properly. I’m not just talking about the essential fatty acids and omega 3’s that are making all the headlines (fats found in food like salmon, avocados and nuts) but also some of the saturated fats which we have been told for years to avoid, including natural animal fats. Essential vitamins such as A, D, E and K are not water soluble and require fat to get transported and absorbed by the body. These vitamins are crucial for brain health and many of our vital organs. Vitamin D is now being widely touted as an important element in decreasing susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and other brain disorders and omega 3 is said to sharpen your cognitive function as well as to improve your mood.
- Fat keeps your lungs working properly: Our lungs are coated with a substance composed almost entirely of saturated fat. Premature babies who are lacking this substance are given something called “surfactant” to keep their lungs functioning properly. Without enough saturated fat, our lungs can be compromised. Some studies are now looking at the link between the low consumption of saturated fat and Asthma as a result of the breakdown of this fatty layer.(2)
- Fat boosts your immune system: Dr. Michael and Dr. Mary Eades in their book Good Calories, Bad Calorieswrite about the role that saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil play in immune health stating that the “loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi”.
- Fat keeps your largest organ healthy: Fat makes up the bulk of the cellular membrane and our skin is made up of a very large number of cells. Without the proper consumption of fat, our skin can become dry and chapped, which can also open up pathways for infection to enter our bodies.
- Fat is good for your heart: Many studies have been done on the benefits of eating saturated fats, fats we have been told to avoid for the last 50 or so years. One study in particular focused on a population in the Pacific Isles who eat up to 60% of their diet in the form of saturated coconut oil and have shown practically no incident of heart disease.(3) Also, fat provides twice the caloric energy as carbs – 9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram. So not only will it sustain you energy for a longer time but will also help you to eat less as it keeps the body satisfied. But stay away from trans-fats. These are the true evil monsters made by adding hydrogen atoms to saturated fat during the heating process. These manipulated fats do nothing but make bad foods last longer on the shelf. So grab a handful of walnuts, enjoy a piece of salmon cooked up in some olive oil and butter and add a little coconut oil to your morning smoothie. Start shifting your diet today, and get those good fats back into your diet.
- Due to its high calorific value (1 gram of fat = 9 calories) it is easy to consume too many calories when eating fatty foods. Unused calories can be stored by the body as fat and will cause weight gain.
- Our bodies store fat for lean times and have evolved to cope with seasonal availability of food – storing fat when food is plentiful and burning it off when food is scarce. In the modern world, and for most people, food is plentiful all year round – our bodies store fat but never burn it off, as fat accumulates we become overweight. See our page Dieting for Weight Loss for more information on maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Fat can cushion and protect our internal organs; however too much cushioning means more bulk and weight which in turn increases the workload of the heart and other organs.
- Your body (the liver) produces cholesterol which is vital to a healthy body and a building block for other essential chemicals that the body produces. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that, in low levels, flows freely around your body in the blood. Higher levels of cholesterol mean a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. See below for more on cholesterol.
- Some fats are worse than others. Saturated fats are worse for you than unsaturated fats – this is to do with their chemical structure and how the body processes them. Trans or hydrogenated fats – which are almost exclusively manufactured (although do occur naturally in small quantities in meat and dairy produce) and are used in many processed foods are particularly bad and are linked to an increased risk of high cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease.
Please consult with your doctor.
Source: Skillsyouneed, http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/fat.html