This Article is About
fat soluble vitamins
world health organisation
healthy diets
low fat diets
internal organs
energy store
long periods
serious health
Fat Importance And Dangers
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They are a vital part of all living cells and are also essential for maintaining health, but most people in the rich countries of the West, particularly the UK and the USA, eat more fat than they need, and the same true of those who can afford to in the poorer countries of the world. All this fat overloads their systems and causes many serious health problems. The World Health Organisation (WHO), warns that we now have a global epidemic of obesity and of all the diseases that go with it.

Functions of fats

Fat provides our main reserve fuel supply. Surplus carbohydrate and protein are both stored in the form of fat. It is the most efficient energy store, providing nine calories of energy per gram. Stored energy from fat keeps us going during long periods of exertion, when food is not available or when the appetite is poor. Although excess fat intake and storage seems to be the most serious problem, fat has some essential functions and should not be completely removed from the diet for any length of time.

The very low fat diets tend to be unappetizing, and most people find it very difficult to stay on them.

A small amount of fat especially if provided by natural unrefined plant foods is important for health.

Importance of Fat

1. Fat keeps warm: The fat stored under the skin insulates the body from cold.

2. Fat protects us from injury by providing padding, both under the skin and around the internal organs.

3. Fat keeps the food in the stomach for a long time and this helps us to feel satisfied for longer and so helps to prevent overeating.

4. Fats enhance the taste, texture and smell of any food making them more appetising and enabling us to maintain healthy diets long term.

5. Some fats have special functions in the brain and nervous tissues.

6. Fats are essential to the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E AND K.

Why is too much fat bad

1. Too much fat in the diet thickens the blood, which slows down the circulation, makes the blood clot more easily and tends to raise the blood pressure.

2. Too much fat makes the red blood cells stick together in clumps. This stops them from carrying their full quota of oxygen and worse still, stops them from getting into the smallest capillaries. This leaves tissues cells short of oxygen and nutrients, and exposes them to injury, diseases and even death.

3. Too much fat in the long term build up fatty deposits in arteries, setting the scene for heart attacks, stroke and life-threatening damage to other organs.

4. Too much fat makes you fat. Fat that is not immediately needed is stored in the fat-storage tissues for future use. Weight builds up when more fat is stored than can be used up, leading to obesity and its life-shortening problems.

5. High-fat diets also interfere with the body’s insulin mechanism, increasing the risk of diabetes, and they damage the immune system, reducing the ability to resist cancer and other diseases.

Fats belong to the lipid family of substances. Most of the fats we eat are triglycerides and so is most of the fat stored in our bodies. The other lipids are phospholipids and sterols. Although we need only small amounts of fats, as they are used in the structure of all our cells, they are essential for growth, maintenance and repair. They also have a role in the manufacture of hormones and related substances which control many aspects of body function, including blood pressure and response to injuries and infections. Cholesterol is one of the sterols.

Fats are health-promoting when we choose to eat and the right amount of the right kind at the right time.

Ultra-low-fat diets are not the best. Though they may seem to help middle-aged patients with heart and other problems in the short term, most people find them rather unappetizing and difficult to keep up.

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