Fat is essential for our bodies and, along with carbohydrate, is a source of energy.
Our bodies use fat for insulation, to help maintain temperature regulation and to protect our vital organs.
Fat also transports vitamins A, D, E and K around the body. Levels of fat affect our hormones.
Types of Fat
There are three types of fat - saturated fat, unsaturated fat
and trans fat (hydrogenated fat).
Saturated fat is typically solid at room temperature; e.g. animal fats and fats found in chocolates, biscuits and butter. It has been linked to several health problems including high cholesterol and heart disease, and intake should be limited. Try consuming saturated fat from natural, unprocessed sources such as meat instead of buttery products.
Unsaturated fat is usually liquid at room temperature; e.g. olive oil, fish (particularly oily fish) and nuts. The bulk of our fat consumption should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3 and 6).
Trans fats are chemically altered fats that were originally used in processed foods to prolong shelf life and improve taste. Some manufacturers have now banned trans fat in their food products as excessive consumption has been shown to pose a significant health risk. It is advisable to avoid trans fat wherever possible.
- Fat is an essential element in our diet and should form 30% of our daily food intake.
- Try to consume fats from natural sources such as good quality meat (lean meat where possible), fish, oils, nuts and seeds.
- Cook with olive oil instead of butter.