Fat is bad, fat make you fat. Don’t eat fat, eat carbs… you hear all these almost every day. Don’t you? There’s a lot of marketing gimmick in that and some myth as extra topping to add flavor. The truth about fats is far more complex that what you actually think. Fat is not always bad. Fat will not necessarily make you fat. Confused? Here are 30 fat facts that you and everyone else should know. These fat facts will help you gain a better understanding of this complex substance and how it affects your health. So, don’t be blind and make informed decisions.
Fat Facts: 1-5
1. Fat is basically a compound. It is a type of energy that our body needs. Our body utilizes three different types of energies. The other two are proteins and carbohydrates.
2. Fat can stay in both solid and liquid form at room temperature. That stay liquid at room temperature are called ‘oil’ while those that stay solid at room temperature are called ‘fat’.
3. The correct term for both fat and oil is lipid. Lipids are nothing but fat which can be either in liquid form or in solid form.
4. There is a misconception that fat makes a person overweight or obese or fat. In fact, our body cannot function properly without fats. How so? Heard of vitamins A, D, E and K. All these four vitamins are soluble only in fat and the only way our body can absorb, digest and transport these vitamins is when they get dissolved in fat.
5. Talking of becoming fat (obese), you should know that we accumulate fat in our body only when we consume more calories than what our body needs. This means that if we consume a balanced diet, we will not become overweight even if our food contains fat. The additional calories that are stored in our bodies in form of fat can come from both proteins and carbohydrates.
Fat Facts: 6-10
6. Fat contains more calories than protein and carbohydrate. One gram of protein or carbohydrate contains 4 kilocalories. Fat on the other hand contains 9 kilocalories per gram. Since fat contains more calories, eating too much of fat can lead to storage of extra calories in form of fat in our body. This can also happen if we eat too much of protein and/or carbohydrates.
7. Fat is very important for a number of things. For example, it protects our internal organs from external shock. Fat helps to maintain healthy cellular functions. It helps to maintain the temperature of our body. It also helps us to maintain healthy hair and skin.
8. There are different types of fats. There are basically three types – saturated fats, unsaturated fats and trans fats. Unsaturated fats have subcategories – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
9. These fats are broadly categorized as good fats and bad fats. Good fats include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while bad fats are saturated and trans fats.
10. Saturated fats usually stay solid at room temperature. They are natural fats that come from plant and animal sources. Monounsaturated fats stay liquid at room temperature but become solid when refrigerated. Polyunsaturated fats stay liquid both at room temperature and when refrigerated. Trans fats rarely occur naturally. They are formed when food is processed. Of all forms of fats, trans fats are worst for health.
Some examples of food that contain good fat and bad fat:
|Sesame oil||Corn oil|
|Olive oil||Sunflower oil|
|Canola oil||Flax seeds|
|Nut butters||Pumpkin seeds|
|Nuts||Trout / Tuna / Salmon|
|Olive||Tofu / Soymilk|
|Saturated Fat||Trans Fat|
|Doughnuts, pastries, pies||Fried food|
|Dairy products like butter and milk, cream, cheese etc.||Candy bars|
|Red meat like pork, lamb, beef etc.||Chips|
Fat Facts: 11-15
11. You must have heard quite a lot about Omega-3 and Omega-6, right? These are basically fats and they are good fats. To be more specific, they are polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 is found in sources like salmon, trout, sardines, herring, mackerel, oils etc. Omega-6 is usually found in corn oil, sunflower and safflower oil and nuts like pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts and more.
12. If we speak a more technical language, then Omega-3 and Omega-6 are known as fatty acids. They are essential fatty acids which our body needs but cannot produce on its own. Hence, they must be taken from food sources.
13. These two essential fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid, i.e. Omega-3 and linolenic acid, i.e. Omega-6) have a wide range of functions in our bodies. They maintain cellular function, affect inflammation, affect behavior and mood, affect cellular signaling and more.
14. Alpha-linolenic acid is not the only type of Omega-3 fatty acid. There are two other types – DHA and EPA. DHA stands for docosahexanoic acid while EPA stands for eicosapentanoic acid.
15. Both DHA and EPA are extremely important because they help in development of brain in children.
Fat Facts: 16-20
16. Not just the development of brain in children, DHA and EPA are also important for keeping our heart healthy and for maintaining proper eyesight.
17. If you happen to ask the specific functions of Omega-3 fatty acids then, here is what you need to know: they help to lower blood pressure. They slow down the plaque build-up process in your arteries, they reduce arrhythmia risks and they reduce blood triglycerides.
18. What are triglycerides? These are nothing but fats that are end products of digestive process and can be formed from consumed fats, proteins and carbohydrates, which are broken down in the body. Triglycerides are what stored as fats in our body, especially hips and belly. They can enter blood stream and reach our heart and block arteries. Bottom line – they are not good.
19. Now, are the functions of Omega-6 fatty acids? They too help to lower the blood pressure. They reduce diabetes risk and they control blood sugar.
20. The question you should ask is, ‘are triglycerides the only ones responsible for blocking arteries?’ The answer is no! This credit also goes to saturated fats.
Fat Facts: 21-25
21. Saturated fats are known for blocking blood flow by blocking arteries. This increases stroke and heart attack risks.
23. Cocoa butter, palm kernel oil and coconut oil have highly saturated vegetable fats. These are all bad. They are usually used in cookies, milk chocolate, snack chips etc.
24. Did you know that we can actually live happily and healthy without consuming any saturated fat? Our body is capable of making all required saturated fats. However, there is absolutely no need to avoid food that contains saturated fats because they also contain other minerals that our body needs.
25. Now let’s talk of trans fats. Did we mention that they are the worst of all forms of fat? Yes, we did. Any remember, trans fats are manmade (almost all of them).
Fat Facts: 26-30
26. So, what bad does trans fat do to us? The not only clog our arteries and prevent proper blood flow (leading to risk of stroke and heart attack), but they also cause colorectal and breast cancer.
27. Naturally occurring trans fats are present in trace amount in some food products such as full-fat dairy products, fatty meats etc. However, they are not of much concern to us.
28. Manmade trans fats are what we should be worried about. Trans fats are made by a process known as hydrogenation. It is a process where hydrogen is added to oil, making it tastier and firmer product. The end result is that the product has a longer shelf-life. This is what food manufacturers want – longer shelf-life.
29. Did you know that hydrogenation actually converts some unsaturated fat (good fat) present in oil into saturated fat (bad fat)?
30. Did you know that though packaged food may say ‘0’ (zero) trans fat, one serving will typically contain 0.5 gram of this devil? There is no way of achieving zero trans fat and there is no way of avoiding it either. But the truth, we really don’t need trans fat at all!