Fats, carbohydrates and proteins are the indispensable components of our diet. But fats became slaves to many prejudices and conjectures. They scare those who wish to lose weight and those who have recently decided to become a supporter of a healthy diet.
But is it worth to be afraid of fats in food, and if so, which ones? Let’s figure it out!
What are fats, and what functions do they perform in the body?
Fats (triglycerides, lipids) are organic substances that are found in living organisms. They form the basis of the cell membrane and play a very important role in the body along with carbohydrates and proteins. Their main functions are:
– saturate the body with energy and improve well-being;
– creating a shell around the internal organs, protect them from damage;
– prevent hypothermia, as they contribute to the preservation of heat in the body, which they miss badly;
– improve the effect of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K;
– stimulate the activity of the intestine and pancreas;
– in addition, the brain cannot function without fat.
Types of Fats Fats are of plant and animal origin. Fats of animal origin (fats of birds and animals) are called saturated fats, whereas unsaturated fatty acids are found in most vegetable oils.
Saturated fats. They are solid components and are found predominantly in animal food. These fats are quickly absorbed without bile substances, so they are nutritious. If you include in the diet of saturated fats in large quantities with low physical activity, they will be deposited in the body, which will cause weight gain and deterioration in physical fitness.
Saturated fats are divided into stearic, myristic and palmitic. Foods with their presence are tasty and contain lecithin, vitamins A and D, and, of course – cholesterol. The latter is part of the important cells of the body and is actively involved in the production of hormones. But if cholesterol is in excess in the body, the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart problems increases. The maximum rate of cholesterol is 300 mg per day.
Eats of animal origin should be consumed at any age for energy and full development of the body. However, we must not forget that the excessive intake of saturated fat into the body can lead to the development of such diseases: obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.
Products containing saturated fat:
– meat (including heart and liver);
Unsaturated fats. Such lipids are predominantly found in plant foods and in fish. They are quite easily susceptible to oxidation and can lose their properties after heat treatment. Experts recommend eating raw foods with unsaturated fats. This group is divided into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. The first type includes components that are involved in the metabolism and the formation of healthy cells. Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts and oils of vegetable origin. Monounsaturated substances reduce cholesterol levels in the body. Most of them are found in fish oil, olive and sesame oils.
Products containing unsaturated fats:
– vegetable oils (olive, sunflower, corn, linseed, etc.);
– nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios);
– fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna, sprat, trout, etc.);
How to distinguish high-quality natural vegetable oil from a fake with harmful impurities?
In the case when the main component of the fat is saturated acids, the fat will be solid by the state of aggregation. And if unsaturated acids – fat will be liquid. It turns out that if you have oil that remains liquid even in the refrigerator, you can discard doubts – there is the highest concentration of unsaturated fatty acids in it.
Trans fat In everyday life "bad" Fats are taken to take trans fats. They are a type of unsaturated fat, but we decided to tell about them separately. By trans fats are meant modified components. In essence, these are artificially synthesized oils. Scientists have shown that regular consumption of foods containing trans fats can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and blood vessels, and deterioration of metabolism. It is not recommended to use them!
Products containing trans fats:
– frozen semi-finished products (cutlets, pizza, etc.);
– microwave popcorn (if hydrogenated fats are indicated);
Daily intake of fat
Experts say that the body needs 35 – 50% of calories per day, consisting of healthy fats.
In athletes, the daily intake of fat may be greater, especially if the training is intense and systematic. On average, an adult needs to consume 50 g of animal fats and 30 g of vegetable, which will be 540 Kcal.
When does the need for saturated fats increase?
The body most needs saturated fats in the following cases:
– need to increase the elasticity of blood vessels;
– systematic sports training;
– the period of an epidemic of ARVI (to strengthen the immune system);
When does the need for unsaturated fats increase?
Unsaturated fats are very necessary for the body in such cases:
– in the cold season, when the body began to receive less nutrients;
– with high sports loads;
– during intensive physical work;
– active growth in adolescence;
– exacerbation of diabetes;
Which oil is best to fry?
Sunflower and corn oils are the most unsuitable heat treatment oils, since they release carcinogens during frying. It is best to fry in olive oil – despite the fact that it loses its beneficial properties when heated, but does not become dangerous.
Sunflower and corn oil can be used only if not subjected to heat treatment, as when frying or boiling. This is a simple chemical fact that something that is considered useful to us turns into something not at all useful at standard frying temperatures.
Cold-pressed olive and coconut oils produce much less aldehydes, much like butter. The reason is that these oils are rich in monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids, and they remain more stable when heated. In fact, saturated fatty acids almost never pass through an oxidative reaction. Therefore, it is better to use olive oil for frying and other heat treatment – it is considered the most "compromise", as it contains about 76% monounsaturated fat, 14% saturated and only 10% polyunsaturated – monounsaturated and saturated fats are more resistant to oxidation than polyunsaturated.
Fats – an essential element for the full existence of the body. So that they benefit, you need to use them, taking into account your goals and lifestyle. Exclude from your diet only dangerous trans fats.
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