The role of fats in nutrition

Various types of edible fats, as well as  protein and  carbohydrates  , are among the main nutrients.

What are fats for?

Fats are one of the most important nutrients necessary for the normal functioning of the human body. They:

  • along with carbohydrates are the most important source of energy. One gram of fat, oxidized in the body, gives more than 9 kcal, while one gram of carbohydrate – about 4 kcal;
  • how energetic substances are part of cellular membranes and intracellular formations;
  • are part of the nervous tissue;
  • essential for good brain activity, concentration, memory;
  • protects the skin from drying out, creating a lipid barrier;
  • make the body more resistant to infectious diseases, since fats supply biologically active substances to tissues: phosphatides (phospholipids), fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K);
  • promote the production of bile;
  • serve to produce hormones and prostaglandins;
  • help to more efficient use of proteins and carbohydrates;
  • are the only source of essential fatty acids.

Based on the foregoing, the exclusion or sharp restriction of the intake of fats from food into the body can be harmful to human health. When a person needs energy reserves, the body accumulates it in the form of the most high-calorie substances – fat. This is a kind of strategic reserves of the body. It is with the help of these reserves you can replenish the energy spent on hard physical work and during the exercise. In addition, it is recommended to consume more fatty foods in the cold season, because it prevents the body from hypothermia.

Insufficient amounts of fat can contribute to health problems, including:

  • dry, scaly skin;
  • dry, dull hair or hair loss;
  • growth retardation;
  • low resistance to colds and infectious diseases;
  • poor wound healing;
  • mood problems, depression, lack of attention.

Cholesterol Types

There is a widespread belief that cholesterol is extremely unhealthy and is almost the main indicator of our health. However, it is not. It plays an important role in increasing the permeability of cell membranes, in the production of vitamin D in the skin, and in the formation of hormones by the adrenal glands.

It is important to remember that there are different types of cholesterol. So, taking one blood sample for analysis, you can say:

  • on the general level of cholesterol in the human body (for a young man, it should not exceed 2 g per 1 liter of blood);
  • LDL-cholesterol (low density lipoprotein). It is also called“bad” cholesterol, because it tends to be deposited on the walls of the arteries, which can lead to their blockage (the norm for a young man is not more than 1.3 g per 1 liter);
  • HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein). He is also considered“good” cholesterol, because, on the contrary, it clears the walls of arteries from fat accumulations. Therefore, the higher the content of this type of cholesterol, the lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Ideally, its level in men should not be lower than 0.45 g / l.

Fatty acid

Edible fats are complex foods that contain lipids, water, mineral salts and vitamins. However, the main component of fats are lipids (from the Greek. L? Pos – fat). This is a large class of chemicals based on triglycerides, which in the course of the digestive process are transformed into fatty acids.

Fatty acids can be divided into replaceable and essential fatty acids. Replaceable fatty acids are produced in our body, and indispensables come from foods that contain dietary fats.

Types of food fats

There are three types of fatty acids:

1) saturated;

2) monounsaturated;

3) polyunsaturated.

All natural  fats are mixtures of the named fats. Therefore, in any “healthy” fat there are “bad” fats. Typically, the predominant type of edible fat in their composition are classified fatty acids.

Saturated fatty acids are found in all types of meat, sausages, poultry skin, whole milk products, butter and cheese, egg yolks, vegetable oils (palm and coconut).

The use of these products causes an increase in total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol, which contributes to the deposition of fat on the walls of blood vessels, reducing their permeability.

Monounsaturated fatty acids are interchangeable fatty acids. They are found in olive, canola, peanut butter, cashew nuts, almonds, most other nuts, avocado oil, goose liver, cocoa. They lower total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. In addition, they can even increase the level of “good” cholesterol. Therefore, these products are desirable to include in your daily diet.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids can be vegetable in origin(hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower, flax, soybeans, rapeseed, peanuts, corn, vegetable margarine, and peanut butter) and animals (salmon, tuna, fish oil).

They help to reduce total cholesterol, but, unfortunately, lowering and “good” cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are divided into two subgroups:

  • linoleic acid (omega-6);
  • alpha linoleic acid (omega-3).

These two acids are as essential for the body as are the vitamins. They are essential fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized in the body.

Linoleic acid (omega-6). The lack of this acid immediately affects the state of skin cells, mucous membranes, endocrine glands, and can also lead to vascular lesions.

Omega-6 is found in corn and sunflower oil, nuts, seeds, cotton and soybean oil. In the body of an adult healthy person has a two-month supply of this type of fat. However, older people should daily enter it with food.

Alpha-linoleic acid (Omega-3). The lack of this acid leads to a deterioration of the state of the cell membranes, especially the brain cells, which is expressed in memory disorders, in reduced learning ability. In addition, the retina is affected, which leads to a sharp deterioration in vision.

Contains acid in fish and fish oil, flaxseed and rapeseed oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, hazelnuts, almonds and butter. The average daily rate for a person is 2 g per day.


It must be remembered that eating large amounts of dietary fat can lead to various complications. For example, according to statistics, prostate cancer and colon cancer is most common in individuals whose daily ration for fat is more than 40%.

Therefore, it is necessary to reduce fat intake in order to prevent certain oncological diseases. Nutritionists recommend that the daily diet should not be more than 30% fat, including about 10% saturated fat.

Based on the above, some recommendations can be made:

  • meat in the diet should be no more than 3-4 times a week. Moreover, it is necessary to choose the least fat meat in order to obtain the required amount of protein, iron and vitamin B 12 ;
  • on other days, you can consume poultry, fish, eggs, half-skimmed and low-fat dairy products;
  • avoiding the use of palm oil and products containing it, as it contains harmful fats;
  • Considering that olive oil is a champion in the content of “good” fats, it can be consumed without restrictions. However, it does not contain all the necessary food elements (for example, there are no “essential” fatty acids). Therefore, for dressing salads is recommended to use sunflower oil;
  • It must be remembered that as a result of cooking, vegetable oils can acquire toxic properties that are dangerous to the cardiovascular system.