You obtain fats as a sort of nutrition from your food. While eating some fats is necessary, eating too much can be harmful. Your body gets the energy it needs to function correctly from the fats you consume. Your body burns calories from the carbs you’ve consumed while you workout.
What are Fats?
You obtain blubber as a type of nutrition from your food. While eating some blubber is necessary, eating too much can be harmful.
Your body gets the energy it needs to function correctly from the blubber you consume. Your body burns calories from the carbohydrates you’ve consumed while you workout. However, after 20 minutes, your ability to continue exercising depends in part on the calories from blubber . Additionally, you require blubber to maintain the health of your skin and hair as well as to aid in the absorption of the so-called fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Additionally, fat keeps your body warm by insulating it and filling your fat cells. Your body receives linoleic important fatty acids from the fats you consume.
Sources of Fats
Saturated fat – primary sources include:
- Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
- Chicken skin.
- Whole-fat dairy products (milk, cream, cheese)
- Ice cream.
- Tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
Types of Fat
Unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature, are regarded as healthy fats because they have a range of positive effects on health, including lower blood cholesterol levels, less inflammation, stable cardiac rhythms, and more. Vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds are examples of foods that are high in unsaturated fats.
There are two types of “good” unsaturated fats:
1. Monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in:
- Olive, peanut, and canola oils
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans
- Seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds
2. Polyunsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fat are found in high concentrations in:
- Sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils
- Flax seeds
- Canola oil – though higher in monounsaturated fat, it’s also a good source of polyunsaturated fat.
Omega-3 fats are an important type of polyunsaturated fat. The body can’t make these, so they must come from food.
- Eating fish two to three times per week is a great method to receive omega-3 fats.
- Omega-3 fatty acids from plants can be found in flax seeds, walnuts, and canola or soybean oil.
- A study conducted by faculty at the HSPH found that older persons who had higher blood levels of omega-3 fats had a decreased chance of dying prematurely.
- Visit our Ask the Expert with Dr. Frank Sacks to learn more about omega-3 fatty acids.
- The majority of individuals don’t consume enough good unsaturated fats. There is evidence that eating more polyunsaturated fat—up to 15% of daily calories—instead of saturated fat can reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that 8–10% of daily calories come from polyunsaturated fats.
- Researchers from the Netherlands evaluated 60 experiments that looked at how different types of fats and carbs affected blood lipid levels. In studies, eating polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats instead of carbs resulted in lower levels of dangerous LDL and higher levels of protective HDL.
- More recently, the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart) demonstrated that switching from a diet high in carbohydrates to one high in monounsaturated fats lowers blood pressure, enhances lipid levels, and lowers the estimated cardiovascular risk.
Saturated fats are found in many foods, both sweet and savoury.
Most of them come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products, as well as some plant foods, such as palm oil and coconut oil.
Foods high in saturated fats
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Meat products, including sausages and pies
- Butter, ghee, and lard
- Cheese, especially hard cheese like cheddar
- Cream, soured cream and ice cream
- Some savoury snacks, like cheese crackers and some popcorns
- Chocolate confectionery
- Biscuits, cakes, and pastries
- Palm oil
- Coconut oil and coconut cream
Cholesterol and saturated fats
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that’s mostly made by the body in the liver
It’s carried in the blood as:
- low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
- high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Consuming excessive amounts of saturated fats can elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
By transporting excess cholesterol from areas of the body to the liver, where it is excreted, “good” HDL cholesterol has a beneficial effect.
Every food that contains fat is made up of a variety of distinct fats. Saturated fat is present in even seemingly healthful foods like chicken and almonds, albeit in considerably smaller proportions than those in beef, cheese, and ice cream. Although plant foods like coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil are high in saturated fats, saturated fat is primarily found in animal foods.
- According to the American Dietary Guidelines, less than 10% of daily calories should come from saturated fat.
- Further restricting saturated fat to no more than 7% of calories is advised by the American Heart Association.
- However, replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates will probably negate the benefits of cutting back on saturated fat. The “bad” LDL cholesterol is reduced when refined carbs are consumed in place of saturated fat, but the “good” HDL cholesterol and triglycerides are also decreased. Overall, the situation is just as hazardous for the heart as consuming excessive saturated fat.
- Pizza and cheese
- Whole and reduced fat milk, butter and dairy desserts
- Meat products (sausage, bacon, beef, hamburgers)
- Cookies and other grain-based desserts
- A variety of mixed fast food dishes
Although decades of dietary recommendations (13, 14) suggested saturated fat was unhealthy, this notion has recently started to change. One study analysed the results of 21 trials that followed 350,000 people for up to 23 years and found no evidence that eating diets high in saturated fat increased the risk of heart disease.
- The association between consumption of saturated fat and coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) was studied. They came to the contentious conclusion that “there is insufficient evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD.”
- A widely reported study from 2014 cast doubt on the association between saturated fat and heart disease, but HSPH nutritionists found the study to be highly deceptive. The Harvard School of Public Health organised a teach-in titled “Saturated or Not: Does Type of Fat Matter?” in order to clear up any confusion.
The main takeaway is that reducing saturated fat can be beneficial for health if substituted with healthy fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats. (1, 15, 22) Eating healthy fats instead of saturated fat reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol and raises the proportion of “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Consuming healthy fats instead of saturated fat can also aid in preventing insulin resistance, a condition that precedes diabetes. Since unsaturated fat continues to be the healthiest type of fat, saturated fat may not be as bad as previously believed.
Trans fatty acids, more commonly called trans fats, are made by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst, a process called hydrogenation.
- Vegetable oils become more stable and are less prone to become rancid when partially hydrogenated. Additionally, during this process, the oil is transformed into a solid that can be used to make margarine or shortening.
- Oils that have undergone partial hydrogenation are perfect for frying fast food because they can endure repeated heating without degrading.
- These factors led to the widespread use of partially hydrogenated oils in the food industry and in restaurants for frying, baking, processed snack items, and margarine.
- Trans fats do not only come from partially hydrogenated oil in our meals. Small amounts of trans fats are also present naturally in dairy fat and beef fat.
For the heart, blood vessels, and the rest of the body, trans fats are the worst kind of fat because they:
- Inflammation, a response associated to immunology that has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses, is created when bad LDL is raised and good HDL is decreased.
- The development of insulin resistance (16)
- Can have negative health effects even in small doses; the risk of coronary heart disease rises by 23% for every 2% more trans fat calories consumed daily.
Importance of Fats and Oils
Oils and fats assist your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K while also providing calories and vital lipids. Both the total amount of fat consumed and the kind of fat are crucial for health. The importance of selecting healthier unsaturated fats is due to this.
Fats Important for the Body
A healthy, balanced diet must have a small quantity of fat. Essential fatty acids, which the body cannot produce on its own, are found in fat. Fat aids in the body’s absorption of vitamins A, D, and E. These vitamins are only absorbed with the aid of lipids because they are fat-soluble.
Benefits of Fats
“Your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients is aided by fat, which also helps provide your body energy, protect your organs, support cell growth, and maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels..
Main functions of Fats
- Heat Transfer
- Melting Point
Uses of Fats
The majority of lipids found in nature are found in fats and oils. They give life energy, shield internal organs from heat, and carry fatty-soluble vitamins through the blood.
Effects of Fats
Consuming excessive amounts of saturated fats can elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. By transporting excess cholesterol from areas of the body to the liver, where it is excreted, “good” HDL cholesterol has a beneficial effect.
Low-fat diets are ideal since high consumption of fat leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and perhaps cancer.
Carrying additional weight has detrimental effects on one’s health, including endometrial, breast, and colon cancers, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions including osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke). These ailments lead to early death and severe disability.