Some Fat Facts

In the course of your weight loss efforts, you may have come across information on the importance of cutting down on fats. But not all fats are bad. Let us try and understand some facts on fats.

Fats are divided into several categories based on their molecular structure.

Saturated fats - Fatty acids are made of carbon atoms interlinked to form chains. Usually, a carbon atom has a valency of 2. This means that it has 2 free bonds to link with other atoms. But, the fatty acid molecules in saturated fats do not have these two free bonds. They are used up by carbon or hydrogen atoms. Therefore they are said to be saturated. Such fats are found in meat, palm oil, coconut oil etc. These are not healthy fats. The problem is that their degree of saturation makes it difficult for the body to digest them efficiently. These fats tend to increase cholesterol levels and can cause heart problems. Therefore, it is best to avoid them entirely.

Polyunsaturated fats - As the name suggests, these fats have more than one unsaturated bond. Polyunsaturated fats are of two kinds ? Omega 3 fatty acids, which have an unsaturated bond at the third carbon atom and Omega 6 fatty acids which have an unsaturated bond at the sixth carbon atom. While omega 3 fatty acids are derived from fish oils, omega 6 fatty acids are derived from vegetable sources. Both these are highly beneficial to the body and need to be included in the diet in small amounts. They have been known to help reduce cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fats - They contain only one carbon atom with unsaturated bonds. They are found in olive oil, almond oil etc and are beneficial for the cardiovascular system.

Lipoproteins - Fats combine with proteins in the body to form lipoproteins. There are two kinds of lipoproteins ?High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL). HDL is also called good lipoproteins because they protect the cardiovascular system whereas LDL is bad lipoprotein because it increases risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes etc.

So, you see, not all fats are bad. Fats have a high calorific value and your daily intake of fat should not contribute to more than 30% of your calorie intake. That means you can consume abut 66.7 g of fat daily. But this is for those who are not trying to lose weight. If weight loss is your aim, you need to reduce fat intake significantly.