Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Functions of Fat

What are the functions of fat in our body? Fat is an energy source. It has 9 calories per gram. That’s more than two times that of an equal amount of protein or carbohydrate. Think about that from a weight management standpoint.

Fat also protects vital organs. The protection of the heart, liver, kidney, brain and spinal cord from trauma is really important. It is also a transport medium for soluble vitamins from the gut into the blood. We need to have some dietary fat for the utilization of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Fat can slow digestion, which gives the body time to absorb nutrients from other food. Keep in mind, however, that in terms of satiety, the most important nutrient is protein. Fat is necessary for the production of many regulatory hormones. It is necessary for the production of structural components such as the brain.

Omega 3 and 6: Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are fats that fall into two different camps: the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These fats must be consumed in the diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are highly unsaturated fats. The name omega 3 is used by chemist to tell the position of the first double bond in the long fatty acid chain. It means the double bond occurs 3 carbons in. Most research studies suggest that we don’t consume adequate amounts of this fat. It is needed for the production of hormonal compounds.

They confer mostly positive health benefits and the risks are only associated with excessive intake. They can be found in oils of coldwater fish and flaxseeds. There are signs that omega 3 fatty acids reduce heart disease risk.

Omega 6 fatty acids tend to be over-consumed in the American diet. They are found in meat, corn oil and sunflower oil. They act in opposition to the omega 3 fatty acids.

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