The word 'Fat' is used to describe substances that contain lipids or fatty acids. Dietary Fats can be present in liquid form (e.g. cooking oil) or in solid form (e.g. butter, animal fats).
Pure, edible fats provide twice the energy of proteins or carbohydrates (i.e. they have twice as many calories per gram). They also help the body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Fats are an important part of the diet and are essential (in moderation) for good health, although some fats are better for us than others.
TYPES OF DIETARY FATS Fats are classified as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated according to their chemical structure. These categories of fats have quite different effects on health. SATURATED FATS: Saturated fats are found in most animal products. Lamb and beef contain large amounts of saturated fats; pork and chicken contain a slightly lower amount and game meats e.g. deer, have a lower level still. Products derived from these animal fats also have a high content of saturated fat. These products include lard, dripping, butter, cheese and cream. Coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut milk and palm-kernel oil are all high in saturated fat. Frequently eating foods that are high in saturated fats can increase the production of cholesterol in the body. High blood cholesterol is linked with an increased risk of heart disease. MONOUNSATURATED FATS: Olive oil, canola oil and some cold pressed oils are rich in monounsaturated fat. Olives, peanuts and avocados contain a large amount of this type of fat. Monounsaturated fats may be good for the heart. A high consumption of monounsaturated fat in the Mediterranean region is also associated with lower risk of heart disease. The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet may be associated with the combination of monounsaturated fat and foods that contain large amounts of antioxidants e.g. fruits, vegetables and nuts. POLYUNSATURATED FATS: Two polyunsaturated fats are essential in the diet: omega 6 (n-6) and omega 3 (n-3) fatty acids. These fats help to form the highly specialised membrane that surrounds the cells in the human body. These fatty acids may have a role in preventing heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. They can also improve some skin conditions and inflammatory problems such as rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be found in certain types of fish and fish oil. Darker-fleshed, oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna and herring contain more omega 3 fatty acids than white fish. Green, leafy vegetables and flax oil, soybean oil, mustard oil, canola oil and walnut oil also contain omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-6 Fatty Acids are found mainly in plant foods such as seeds, nuts and vegetable oils. These oils include safflower, sunflower and soybean.
DIET HINTSA diet that is low in fat and, in particular, low in saturated fat is recommended to maintain good health. - Eating reduced-fat or low-fat milk is one way to reduce dietary fat intake, as well as your intake of saturated fat. Coconut milk is also high in saturated fat, so choosing low-fat coconut milk can help to cut saturated fat intake. - Try replacing spreads and cooking fats that are derived from animal fats with polyunsaturated and/or monounsaturated spreads and cooking oils. This will also help reduce your dietary intake of saturated fats. - Choose lean meat and poultry cuts and trim the visible fat from meat. - Use cooking techniques such as grilling, so that excess fat is drained from cooked meat.