Tuesday, May 1, 2007

You don't always need non-fat foods. Lipids and their importance in nutrition

Lipids are a group of compounds that include triglycerides (fats and oils), phospholipids and sterols. Most lipids in food and in the body are triglycerides, which are three fatty acids (saturated or unsaturated) attached to a glycerol backbone. Polyunsaturated fats provide important essential fatty acids. Saturated fat and trans-fat are implicated as a risk factor for heart disease because they raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL), while unsaturated fats are associated with increases in good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Lipids (or fats) are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. One gram of fat yields approximately nine calories, more than twice the calorie per gram of carbohydrates or protein. In addition to providing energy, fats act as carriers for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Here are some important fat facts:
  • Work to help balance hormones
  • Regulation and excretion of nutrients in the cells
  • Protects and holds organs such as the liver, heart and kidneys in place
  • Insulates the body from environmental temperature changes and preserves body heat
  • Prolongs digestive process, initiating the release of the hormone cholecystkinin (CCK) which contributes to satiety.
A diet containing 10-30 percent of calories is recommended for fat loss or to enhance overall health. Without this balance, an individual will eventually overeat. And that will not help you get to your goal in any way. However, if an individual consumes too much fat, that will lead to many health problems and complications down the road. It can be a slippery slope.

The best way to balance fat intake is to include healthy fat foods into your diet. By consuming olive and canola oils, and cold water fish like salmon, you can prevent heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and cancer. Your body will be at optimum performance and health.