by Hayley Reynolds, LincsMag Writer.
Date: 01 May 2012
At nine calories per gram, fat is the most condensed form of energy, it’s very much needed in activities such as long distant running, and is a vital source of energy. Yet, people still have this fear of fat, they still believe that fat is the bad guy, and will make you fat yourself if you dare eat it. Yet, this is far from the truth.
Just like protein, and carbohydrates, our body needs fat to work properly, and to help provide energy for us.
Current government guidelines recommend that the average intake of fat is approximately 33% (and no higher than 35%), of our total energy intake.
E.g. If a person requires 1500Kcals a day, then they need roughly 500Kcals of this from fat.
Certain vitamins that our body requires (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K) are only soluble in fat, and therefore can only be transported around in fat. Without fat, these vitamins wouldn’t be able to function properly, and can result in such problems with bone growth, eyesight, blood clotting, and kidney function.
Saturated fat is considered bad for you as it can raise blood cholesterol levels, and the more cholesterol that builds up on the inside of the arteries, especially the heart, can lead to a heart attack. Saturated fat is mostly found in meat, and dairy products, as well as in coconut and palm oils.
You'll also find that sometimes this fat is listed in the ingredients as hydrogenated vegetable fat/oil.
There are two types of unsaturated fat; polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated, these are the two types of fat that our body needs. Polyunsaturated fat is even said to help lower cholesterol, another reason not to cut out fat completely.
Unsaturated fats can be found in sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, nuts, and oily fish
There are two types of fatty acids found in polyunsaturated fat that cannot be produced by our body (Omega 3 and Omega 6), therefore must be obtained from the food we consume.
They are particularly important in the manufacture and repair of cell membranes, which in turn enables the cells to obtain optimum nutrition.
Foods rich in omega 3 include- salmon, mackerel, sardines, whitebait, walnuts, rapeseed oil, and Soya beans.
Foods rich in omega 6 include- walnuts, sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ.
There's also another type of fat I haven't yet mentioned, this is known as a 'trans fat', this is actually an artificially created fat, produced from polyunsaturated fats through hydrogenation (adding hydrogen atoms)
This is often found in commercially baked products & fried foods, and is considered to be even unhealthier than saturated fat.
Just remember, although certain fats are good for you, at the end of the day fat is fat, and if eaten in large quantities, it can lead to weight gain.
Also, be aware of products that are labelled ‘low in fat’, just because they are low in fat, it doesn’t mean you can eat more of it. Plus once cutting the fat out, most manufacturers make up the taste by increasing the sugar or salt content. Always read the labels before buying anything, and never underestimate ‘low fat products’.