Fat in the diet is avoided when we are trying to lose weight or when cholesterol goes up or if you are conscious about your health or when there’s an acne outbreak. Fat, the nutrient which is mostly avoided by health enthusiasts is not as bad as is considered. Being a nutrient it has many roles to play for our well-being.
FAT the storage form of energy acts as a back- up for carbohydrates, the primary fuel. The fat we eat gets stored in our body and is available at times our body is short of energy. This benefit sometimes becomes the reason fat is despised by us.
All body cells contain some fat. In a healthy non-obese female, fat makes 18-25% of body weight and 15-20% in a healthy non-obese male. This proportion changes with aging, pregnancy and lactation. Fat lesser or higher than this proportion can lead to various health problems especially related to the reproductive system and cardiovascular system.
I had a friend in school who never used to feel cold even on days we were shivering and chattering our teeth. Now I know why? He would be having nice padding of fat. The subcutaneous layer (the layer beneath our skin) of fat is an effective insulator that reduces losses of heat from the body. The fat layer also protects delicate vital organs e.g. kidneys from getting injured with their cushioning effect.
Sweaters and cushions but there is a lot more about fats which makes this nutrient necessary for us. Fats are carriers of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K. Fats are needed for the absorption and movement of these vitamins inside our body. Needless to say that with a deficiency of fats we can precipitate deficiency of these vitamins too.
Essential Fatty Acids are the fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by our body and thus must be present in the diet. Deficiency of these can lead to growth retardation, skin lesions, liver degeneration, dry scaly skin to name a few. Fat in our diet is the source of essential fatty acids.
Another benefit of fat in the diet is that it is the source (only animal foods) of cholesterol. Yes, you read it correctly. It is a benefit if taken in the right amounts. Cholesterol is a component of cell membranes and helps in the synthesis of vitamin D, reproductive hormones and bile salts.
Fats also contribute to the taste and palatability to our food. It is a very important cooking medium and helps us in making lots of recipes.
Fat is present in two modes in our foods: visible and invisible. Like we all do with our chat ids.
Visible fat: Butter, ghee, margarine, cream, salad oils, lard, cooking oils, etc.
Invisible fat: Cheese, egg yolk, nuts, oil-seeds, meat, fish, etc.
How much fat to include in the diet?
Not more than 20-25% of the diet’s total calories should come from fat. Those of us who have health problems wherein we need to restrict fat should keep fat intake between 10-15% of the total calorie intake.
It is rightly said, “excess of everything is bad”. The same holds true for fats as well.