Planning your diet for optimum health benefits goes a long way to prevent any major health problems.
As far as the macronutrients fats are concerned, you should incorporate foods that contain the right type of fats to obtain the best benefits.
Universally, fats enjoy an unhealthy reputation though you cannot brand them all as bad.
You have the “good fats” and the “bad fats”: the former include the unsaturated fats while the latter include the saturated and the trans fats. For decades, this classification has stayed.
The “good fats” do all the good things for your health. They reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
You should, therefore, choose your fats well, avoiding the bad ones and incorporating the good ones in your diet.
Does trans fat have any benefits?
There is no research that shows any health benefits of trans fats. That these fats do nothing but harm your health is proven beyond doubt. You should, therefore, avoid them completely.
Saturated fats benefits
Saturated fats are also put in the same harmful category. However, there is recent research, which defies this categorization and insists that saturated fats are indeed required in your diet in the recommended amount.
It admits that saturated fats do raise LDL but also raise HDL, the good cholesterol.
HDL removes the LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and carries it to the liver for excretion.
HDL, therefore, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering LDL cholesterol.
But, what about these fats increasing your LDL cholesterol? You should know that not all LDL cholesterol is bad.
LDL has two subtypes:
- Small and dense, which can penetrate the arterial wall and cause heart disease
- Large LDL particles cannot penetrate the arterial wall and therefore, do not increase the risk of heart disease.
Again, research has shown that eating saturated fats changes the small and dense LDL into the large and benign LDL.
Saturated fats do not harm your lipid profile and do not increase your risk of heart disease as previously believed.
Like all fats, one gram of saturated fat contains 9 calories. You should, therefore, exercise caution and consume them in moderation for fear of gaining weight.
Health benefits of unsaturated fats
Unsaturated fats are classified into monounsaturated and the polyunsaturated fats based on their chemical structure.
These fats help to maintain a healthy lipid profile. They lower LDL and increase the HDL levels in the blood.
They also reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Other important benefits of fats
Besides the above-mentioned functions fats perform, there is a vast range of other functions that outline the essential importance of fats.
- Antioxidants. Foods containing unsaturated fats are rich in antioxidants.
- Cell wall formation. Fats help in the formation of the cell walls. A membrane lipid is a compound, which forms the double-layered surface of all cells. This is probably one of their most important functions.
- Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins and can be absorbed by the body only with the help of fats. This factor also helps in absorption of calcium and in maintaining bone strength. Due to this property, night blindness, rickets, and anemia are prevented.
- Supply energy. For the first 20 minutes of physical activity, energy is supplied by the carbohydrates. After that period, stored fats provide energy. One gram of fat provides 9 calories of energy – more than twice the amount you get from carbohydrates and proteins.
- Maintain body temperature. In cold weather, fats provide you with insulation against the cold and help in maintaining body temperature.
- Promote the health of body cells. Fats are very important to help body cells to absorb nutrients. They, therefore contribute significantly to promoting body cell health.
- Promote the clotting of blood during healing of injuries. This property of fats also helps prevent internal bleeding.
- Benefits on skin. The Omega-3 fatty acids provide and help to maintain adequate levels of prostaglandins. Lack of prostaglandins in the body will lead to itching, dryness of skin and cracking of nails. This property, therefore, helps to promote healthy skin.
- Night vision. Fats improve night vision.
- Sex hormones. Fats help in the production of sex hormones.
- Cancer. Essential fatty acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6 reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.
- Protection to viscera. Visceral fats provide a protective covering on the organs in the body.
- Benefit on the nervous system. Fats form an important part of the structure of the nerve cells and also of the myelin sheath which covers every nerve fiber. Fats are, therefore, important for the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system.
- Lactation. Fats help in the production of milk in lactating mothers.
- Immunity. They help in the proper functioning of the immune system.
- Fats provide energy to the heart to function and the good fats help in maintaining a healthy heart.
What you should do?
All these facts tell you how important these macronutrients are for your body. However, that does not mean you should feast on them. It s necessary that you stick to moderation when consuming fatty foods. They are high in calories and can cause weight gain, which has its disadvantages.