What is the function of fats?

There are three sources of food energy (calories) and fats, along with protein and carbohydrates comprise them.

Are you familiar with the terms saturated and unsaturated fatty acids? Understanding these is important to understanding the roles fats play in our lives.

While fats are considered unhealthy by some experts we need them to survive. Without them our brains would not develop, our blood would not clot, and inflammation would run rampant all over our bodies. But the function of fats doesn’t stop there, they keep our skin and hair healthy as well as aiding in the absorption of certain vitamins and move them through the blood.

What are saturated fats?

If you’ve ever heard of the term bad cholesterol, or LDL, it’s a direct reference to saturated fats. This is the fat that’s in animal products like whole milk, coconut and palm oils! It should be used but only a small part of the diet. They can cause high levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.

What are unsaturated fats?

Unsaturated fats, such as fish and most vegetable oils, are healthy fats but the negative side is they


Fats and foods

are loaded with calories.

What are trans fats or trans fatty acids?

Trans fats or trans fatty acids develop from the formation as vegetable oils harden. Haver you ever heard the term hydrogenated? Trans fats are can raise our “bad” cholesterol levels and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels. If you’re eating a lot of fried foods like fried chicken, foods with margarine, and commercial baked goods then you’re loaded with trans fats. Always read labels for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils make every attempt to avoid them or use them in moderation.

What are fatty acids?

Similar to proteins and amino acids which we refer to as building blocks, fatty acids are the building blocks of fat. Fatty acids are linked together in long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms.

If a fatty acid chain is filled to capacity with hydrogen atoms, it is called saturated. Butter, which is thick and is considered a saturated fat?

Conversely, when hydrogen is missing, it is called unsaturated. The number of missing hydrogen’s tells us if the fat is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. This fat is considered thin, like oil.

All fat, including the fat you find in food, is made of a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats. The majority of the fat a food contains determines its classification as saturated or unsaturated.

Fat is difficult for your body to digest and utilize because fat and water do not mix. Bile is the key to our utilization of fat. Made by the liver and secreted by the gallbladder, bile can break the triglycerides into their components, fatty acids and glycerol, for absorption.