Why is fat necessary for our body?
Since modern times we humans have acquired a fear for fats. We have been repeatedly told that excess fat can cause plaque formation resulting in attacks and strokes. Excess of fat also shows an increase in blood cholesterol levels. Many other diseases are also related to the high amount of fat deposited in our body. Are fats so harmful that we should completely restrict them from our diet?
No, fats are actually necessary for our body. There are specific fatty acids and triglycerides that carry out functions in our bodies. Fats are required for the storage of fat-soluble vitamins i.e., Vitamin A, D, E, and K. A specific cholesterol has to be present underneath our skin to absorb the Vitamin D from the sun rays. Each cell has a fat membrane that acts as a cushioning agent. And good amounts of healthy cholesterols guard our heart activity and help in maintaining healthy bones and joints. Essential fatty acids are also used to keep our reproduction system healthy and to maintain hormonal balance. The adipose tissue made of fat cells near the hip and the thigh region help in easing the parturition process during pregnancy. The first milk of the mother known as colostrum contains fats which are essential for the growth and development of the child.
If fats have so many functions then why is it feared by most individuals?
The modern generation has started living a very inactive lifestyle. The sleep patterns have been disturbed, the meal timings aren’t regular and most people prepare ready-to-eat food items. All these and many other factors are the reason of this fear. The improper lifestyle we are living has brought a decrease in our metabolism rate. Due to the less activity our body is breaking down and digesting the food very slowly. And even after digesting the food we aren’t able to burn the extra calories that we consumed which gets converted to fat cells and is stored at certain places in our body.
Along with a sedentary lifestyle we have adapted eating habits which aren’t healthy. Due to the load of work and different shifts in work the meal timings have been disturbed to a great extent. The individual stays so busy that they cannot cook for themselves and eventually end up eating ready-to-eat foods or junk food. These foods do not really provide any nutritional value to our diet instead they are bulked with unhealthy fats that our body doesn’t require.
What are unhealthy fats and how do they affect our body?
There are basically three types of fats; saturated fats, unsaturated fats and trans-fats. The most hazardous ones are the trans-fat. Saturated ones should also be restricted from the diet and they should be replaced by the unsaturated ones.
Trans-fats and saturated fats are mainly present in fried foods, packet foods, refined foods and ready-to-eat foods. What they do is that they increase the number of free radicals present in our body leading to increased oxidative stress resulting in high blood pressure and attacks. Saturated fat is also present in meat especially red meat. Fish and shell fish have least saturated fats so they can be consumed in moderation.
Good sources of unsaturated fats are vegetable oils, complex carbohydrates, whole grain pulses, milk and its products.
What’s the deal with cholesterol?
High levels of cholesterol have shown adverse effects on the liver functioning and also high levels of LDL. LDL is low density lipoprotein and it is directly related to increased production of free radicals in our system. To achieve a decreased LDL, we need to increase the HDL levels; high density lipoprotein. The best way to increase HDL is to workout regularly or at least four times a week for 40-45 minutes. This way the cholesterol levels and maintained and the risk of non-communicable diseases decrease.
Healthy sources of cholesterol are eggs, nuts, ghee, liver, fish, poultry, full fat milk and its products.
All fats and oils should be consumed in moderation to live a longer healthier life.
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