Fats in Human Health
Fats in Human Health
Role of Fats in Nutrition
Know your Fats
a) Trans Fat (the worst, dangerous if taken in plenty)
b) Saturated Fat (not as bad as was thought of long time ago)
c) Polyunsaturated Fat (good)
One type of polyunsaturated fat omega-3 fatty acids may be especially beneficial to your health. Omega-3 fat decrease your risk of heart attack, protect against irregular heartbeats and lower blood pressure levels. It may even protect against some cancers. You'll find omega-3s mainly in fish particularly in fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Lesser amounts are in flaxseeds, soybeans and canola oil (mainly found in the European market).
You can get sufficient omega-3 fatty acids by consuming two to three servings of fish per week. Pregnant women and women who plan to become pregnant during the next few years should consume a lot of fish. After all it has also been found to improve the intellectual development of the children.
d) Monounsaturated Fat (very good)
e) Cholesterol (important)
f) Essential Fatty Acids
|Food rich in mega-3 fatty acids|
|Essential Fatty Acids||Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid)||Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid)||Omega-9 (Oleic Acid)|
|Uses in the body||Omega-3s are used in the formation of cell walls, making them supple and flexible, and improving circulation and oxygen uptake with proper red blood cell flexibility and function.||Linoleic Acid is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. A healthy human with good nutrition will convert linoleic acid into gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which will later by synthesized, with EPA from the Omega-3 group, into eicosanoids. Some Omega-6s improve diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin disorders (e.g. psoriasis and eczema), and aid in cancer treatment|
Essential but technically not an EFA, because the human body can manufacture a limited amount, provided essential EFAs are present.
Monounsaturated oleic acid lowers heart attack risk and arteriosclerosis, and aids in cancer prevention.
|Deficiency||Omega-3 deficiencies are linked to decreased memory and mental abilities, tingling sensation of the nerves, poor vision, increased tendency to form blood clots, diminished immune function, increased triglycerides and "bad" cholesterol (LDL) levels, impaired membrane function, hypertension, irregular heart beat, learning disorders, menopausal discomfort, itchiness on the front of the lower leg(s), and growth retardation in infants, children, and pregnant women.||Although most people obtain an excess of linoleic acid in their diet, often it is not converted to GLA because of metabolic problems caused by diets rich in sugar, alcohol, or trans fats from processed foods, as well as smoking, pollution, stress, aging, viral infections, and other illnesses such as diabetes. It is best to eliminate these factors when possible, but some prefer to supplement with GLA-rich foods such as borage oil, black currant seed oil, or evening primrose oil.|
|Sources||Flaxseed oil (flaxseed oil has the highest linolenic content of any food), flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.), canola oil soybean oil, wheat germ oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, and others.|
Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds (raw), olive oil, olives, borage oil, evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil, chestnut oil, chicken, among many others.
Corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils are also sources of linoleic acid, but are refined and may be nutrient-deficient as sold in stores.
|Olive oil (extra virgin or virgin), olives, avocados, almonds, peanuts, sesame oil, pecans, pistachio nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, etc.|
Choose your dietary fats wisely
Be aware that many foods contain different kinds of fat and varying levels of each type. The rest can be used in moderation. Limit fat in your diet, but don't cut it out completely. The worst kind of fat is the trans-fat. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you should eliminate from your diet. Focus on reducing foods high in saturated fat and select more foods made with unsaturated fats. Consider these tips when making your choices:
- Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil in salad dressings and marinades.
- Sprinkle slivered nuts or sunflower seeds on salads instead of bacon bits.
- Snack on a small handful of nuts mixed with seeds rather than potato chips or processed crackers. Or try peanut butter or other nut-butter spreads
- Add slices of avocado, rather than cheese, to your sandwich. Try using avocado and peanut butter as spread rather than solid fats.
- If you eat animal protein, eat rather fish than meat. Make sure you buy organic fish; purchase it at regular markets, rather than the butchers. If you eat eggs and meat, buy only local and organic free range eggs and meat.
- Most of your foods can be eaten without fat including your starches. Do not fry your foods.
|Types of fat|
1. Draft by Infonet October 2011
2. Review by Dr Alice Ojwang-Ndong January 2012
Information Source Links
- Holford, Patrich (2007): New Optimum Nutrition Bible. Piatkus books www.piatkusbooks.net, An imprint of Little, Brown book group, 100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y ODY. ISBN No: 978-0-7499-2552-9. Available in Kenya through the Health Food shops