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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Fats >>  Fat foods

Fat Foods

Fat foods have a very bad reputation for causing weight gain and the obesity epidemic, but some fat is essential for your survival as part of a healthy diet. Certain publications by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended 20 to 25% of our daily intake of calories should come from various forms of fat foods. This amount of fat is needed for the following reasons:
  • Energy- Grams for gram fats have the highest concentration of calories. For example while fat contains 9 calories per gram, proteins and carbohydrates contain 4.
  • Healthy cells- Fat molecules form a vital part of the protective membrane that envelopes each cell of the body. Without this no cell can function properly.
  • Brain development- In addition to the cell membrane of brain cells, fat also provides myelin around each nerve fiber.
    This insulating sheath allows for faster carriage of messages.
  • Vitamin absorption- Vitamins A, D, E, and K which are essential for a body's functioning, can only be assimilated by the body when absorbed in fat molecules.
  • Organ protection- Vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, and intestines are cushioned by a layer of fat that holds them in place and protects them from injury.
  • Taste- Fat foods have a very appealing appearance, taste and texture.

Different Types of Fat Foods

There are different types of fats. Most foods contain each of these fat types in varying proportions. We classify foods based on which fat type is most prevalent.

Hence, fat foods are divided up into the following categories.
  • Saturated fat foods
  • Unsaturated fat foods
  • Trans fat foods
Unsaturated fat foods are further divided into Monounsaturated fatty acids foods and polyunsaturated fat foods. Let's look at the different types in more detail, and how they affect our health. The fat in saturated fat foods have no double bonds between their carbon atoms and are “saturated” by hydrogen atoms. Saturated fat foods include animal products such as red meat, lard and dairy products like cheese, butter and cream. These remain in the solid state at room temperature. Other examples include coconut, chicken, palm oil, bacon, cocoa butter and chocolate.

The fat in unsaturated fat foods, on the other hand, has double bonds between their carbon atoms and there is no space for the hydrogen atoms. Depending on the number of carbon double bonds they are either classified as monounsaturated (one double bond) on polyunsaturated (multiple double bonds). They remain in liquid form at room temperature. Vegetable oils fall under this category. Oily fish such as salmon and tuna contain high concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which fall under the umbrella of unsaturated fat foods. Unsaturated fats are a much healthier option to saturated fats. Examples of foods that contain mono unsaturated fats are olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, peanut, cashew nuts and some salad dressings. Examples of foods that contain all the unsaturated fats include sunflower oil, soybeans, tofu, mayonnaise, hazelnuts, corn and the oily fish mentioned above.
While the above-mentioned fats are naturally occurring, trans fats are primarily artificially made. They are made by the hydrogenation or “saturation” of unsaturated fats by certain chemical processes, such as the introduction of hydrogen to vegetable oils when frying.

Trans fats can be considered to be the unhealthiest of the lot. Many prepackaged foods that are available in supermarkets contain unhealthy amounts of both saturated and trans fats. They are extensively used in many restaurants and fast food outlets, since they add taste and texture to the food.

It would be unhealthy for you to eliminate all fat foods from your diet to achieve weight loss. By doing so you would rob your body of essential nutrients. From now on try to identify foods that contain more unsaturated fat and minimum amounts of saturated and trans fats.
Submitted on January 17, 2014