Article written in collaboration with Alina Tomoiaga, Nutrition Technician.
We continue our articles series on the topic of macronutrients. This time we tackle fats, as we look into the good and the bad, daily recommended intakes, as well as the best sources for fat.
We remind you that a healthy diet is the result of a variety of foods that must include all essential nutrients.
The origin of the name lies within the Greek “lipos” meaning “fat”, as it represents the main constituent of the adipose tissue in the body. Fats are one of the energy sources in the organism, as burning one gram of fat results in about 9 calories. A healthy person needs around 66 grams of fats on a daily basis, which represents 30% of the daily recommended intake in a diet consisting of 2000 kilocalories consumed in a day.
Fats are further divided into trans, saturated and unsaturated fats. They are sourced from both vegetable sources, as well as animal ones. They differ from each other by the fatty acids they contain. These are the elements that help categorize the types of fats and the impact they have on the body.
One of their main roles is to provide energy to the body by being burnt, but also to help regulate the hormonal system and support brain functions. In addition, they play a role in the assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins. By burning each gram of lipids, 9.3 calories are released compared to carbohydrates and proteins that release 4.1 calories/gram.
In addition, we must pay special attention to the conditions due to an excessive consumption of fats, among which we list the increase of cholesterol (dyslipidemias), obesity and high blood pressure. These are the result of excessive consumption of fats such as fried foods. By frying fats at high temperatures, toxic compounds that are harmful to the body are released. From a nutritional point of view, one of the healthiest oils is olive oil, so its use in cooking is indicated.
From the point of view of body fat distribution, the biggest risks in terms of conditions are represented by the fats stored in the abdominal area, because this is where many of the organs are located, and fat deposits lead to health complications.
Depending on how the body assimilates them, they are divided into two categories:
Essential fatty acids – linoleic, linolenic, arachidonic – that cannot be synthesized in the body, so they must be assimilated through food;
Non-essential fatty acids – palmitic acid, stearic acid – which are found in variable proportions in animal products.
We now dive into the types of fats:
I Unsaturated fats
Are the ones our organism needs and are themselves divided into two categories:
- Monounsaturated fats that help regulate cholesterol levels, support heart functions and help in the fight against extra pounds. In vegetable products, they are found in various oils such as olive oil, nuts, avocados, seeds.
- Polyunsaturated fats that help muscle movement and blood clotting. These are found under the name of essential fatty acids, namely Omega 3, 6, 9. While Omega 9 fatty acids are produced by the body and do not require specific supplements, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are not produced by the body and they need to be sourced from foods such as nuts, various seeds, avocado oil, peanut butter. We also mention that we need to pay special attention to the imbalance in the consumption of Omega 3 and Omega 6, because we tend to consume larger amounts of foods with Omega 6 content compared to those with Omega 3 content. Thus, it is advisable to pay attention to the proper consumption of fatty acids to ensure the proper functioning of our body.
II Saturated fats
They are easy to identify as these fats maintain their solid consistency at room temperature. Of these fats we present red meat, chicken, pork, as well as coconut oil and palm oil.
Opinions regarding their consumption are divided, but it is indicated to eat them, as these fats are necessary to the body, but in much smaller quantities compared to unsaturated fats in order to avoid various health complications.
III Trans fats
Aka the fats that must be avoided. These fats carry no nutritional value and eating them causes health issues. They are mostly present in margarine, in pastry, as well as deep fried foods. Aside from the taste they give to food and from prolonging the validity period, they are absolutely harmful.
Because we are aware of the importance of eaten foods, we are concerned to not only provide you with a filling meal, but a responsible one as well. Thus, we contribute to promoting a healthy lifestyle that is a click away, at shop.nutriento.ro
We will come back shortly with a piece on the topic of protein and continue to look into macronutrients.