Fats or lipids…well my plan is to summarize, briefly, my thoughts on them and yes, I realize it is a very tall order!
Fats are important:
- fats from animal & vegetable sources provide energy in the body
- building blocks for cell membranes
- building blocks for a variety of hormones
- fats as part of a meal will slow down absorption therefore making us feel full longer
- act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins ( A,D,E, and K)
The bottom line is: Having fats part of your diet is extremely important.
The key to eating fats is: Eating a variety of a variety of all fats ( animal, fish, beans, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil)
Fats or lipids are not soluble in water and are chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms filling the available bonds.
Saturated: These are formed within the body from carbohydrates and are found in animal fat and tropical oils. At room temperature they are solid or semi solid. Saturated fats are stable.
Mono saturated: Monounsaturated fats ate liquid at room temperature, stable, do not readily go rancid ( therefore good for cooking). Olive oil is a great example.
Poly saturated: There are two types; omega 3 and omega 6. They are considered essential because our bodies can not make these fatty acids. They are liquid even when refrigerated.
- Omega 3: Omega 3’s are unsaturated fatty acids. There are 2 types of these fats: alpha linolenic acid ( ALA) which will be converted in the body to the second type, eicosapentaenoic ( EPA), and docosahexaenoic ( DHA). These are important for anti inflammatory properties, and their effect on soothing the nervous system. Food sources of omega 3’s include: cold water fish, eggs, flax seeds ( ALA), nuts ( ALA) and grass fed animals.
- Omega 6: Omega 6 ( linoleic acid) are also unsaturated fatty acids. Excess levels of these fats may induce depression and a number of diseases. Although these fats are found in many foods ( actually hidden in baked goods and fast food as oils – palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower) , the problem is with the balance of omega 3 and 6’s in the American diet.
* the balance of these 2 essential fatty acids is thought to be 10 ( omega 6) to 1 ( omega 3) for most Americans. Ideally though, the balance should be 4 to 1 or lower ( there are various opinions on this).
*both of these are considered essential because they need to be obtained from food
Interesting fat facts:
- The bad fats result from high-heat commercial processing (trans fatty acids).
- Sources of bad fats include refined oils, partially hydrogenated oils, shortening, and deep-fried foods.
- The right fats protect you from disease; however, the wrong fats may create disease by compromising the integrity of the cell membrane.
- Saturated fat is not all that good, but its not particularly bad either, as long as you do not eat too much of it. Your body knows how to burn it for energy.
Great fats: seeds, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, cold- water fish, nuts – walnuts, almonds.
Okay fats ( eaten in moderation): avocados, butter, meats,eggs.
Fats to avoid: Trans fats mostly present in processed baked foods – cookies and crackers.
(ie: make your own cookies!)
As a general rule, most nutritionist will say that, ” fats that are liquid at room temperature, like olive oils, are a better choice that foods that are semi-solid.”
PS: Human Body Detectives: A Heart Pumping Adventure, is an imaginative adventure through the circulatory systems and will be making its debut very soon!
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