Sunday, November 4, 2012
Article # 13. Study about Fats
Study about Fats
If you want to follow a low cholesterol diet, the first thing you need to understand the difference between saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Some fats can raise cholesterol levels, while other fats lower cholesterol levels.
Triglycerides are the main form of fat in our bodies and in our diets. They provide us with energy, insulation, and protect our internal organs from damage. They also enable our bodies to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates more efficiently. Despite the many benefits triglycerides have, too much in our blood circulation can cause major health problems, such as heart disease. Knowing the right fats to eat can help reduce overall cholesterol levels and help us to maintain a healthy body. Triglycerides can be further divided into the following categories:
These are considered the most detrimental to your health. They usually are solid at room temperature and are derived from animal products. When looking at their molecular structure, saturated fats contain the maximum number of hydrogen atoms (hence "saturated" with hydrogen atoms). Eating a diet high in these has been strongly correlated to heart disease.
This type of lipid lowers "bad cholesterol", LDL, and leaves the "good cholesterol" HDL levels the same. These are usually liquid at room temperature. When looking at their molecular structure, there are two hydrogen atoms missing with a double bond between two carbon atoms replacing them. Monounsaturated fats include canola oil and olive oil.
This type of fat tends to lower both LDL and HDL levels (remember--we want to keep high levels of HDL). These are liquid at room temperature and typically have more than two hydrogen atoms missing. Polyunsaturated fats include safflower oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids must be obtained through your diet in order to maintain the architecture of cell membranes. They are also used as a component in the production of eicosanoids, a type of hormone used by the body to help regulate blood pressure, blood clot formation, and immune function. These include omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to lowering triglyceride levels. Common sources of essential fatty acids include vegetable oils, fish, grains, seeds, and vegetables. There are supplements of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids available at pharmacies.
During hydrogenation, hydrogen atoms are added back to polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats to protect against rancidity from bacteria or air exposure. As a consequence, this process causes hydrogenated fats to become saturated fats. If a food label states the words partially hydrogenated oils among its first ingredients, that means that it contains a lot of Trans fats and saturated fats. These fats increase LDL levels and decrease HDL levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease.
To understand the difference between unsaturated fats and Tran’s fat, it is best to understand what creates a fat. Fats are a group of compounds known as glycerides. Fatty acids attach to glycerides. These fatty acids are molecules that are composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms. There are two types of fatty acids--saturated and unsaturated acids, which attach to create saturated and unsaturated fats. Fats are an essential part of the human diet and are one of the body’s major sources of energy. The human body is only able to obtain energy by breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
What are Unsaturated Fats?
There are two types of unsaturated fats—polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. These fats typically come from vegetables or fish sources. Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and are in the form of oils. They supply the body with a healthy source of fat.
Health Benefits of Unsaturated Fats
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should pick unsaturated fats because these fats have been shown to lower your risk of heart disease by reducing your total cholesterol levels. One type of unsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the risk of coronary artery disease and lower blood pressure levels.
What Foods Have Unsaturated Fats?
The most common sources of unsaturated fats include olive oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oils, peanut oil, avocados, seeds and nuts. For omega-3 fatty acids, select flax seed or walnuts as well as fatty cold-water fish like herring, mackerel or salmon.
What are Trans Fats?
Tran’s fats are chemically altered fats that are man-made by the process of hydrogenation. This process injects hydrogen into vegetable fats through pressure and high heat. This process is typically done to vegetable oils to make them more chemically stable. This means that they become liquid at room temperature and have a longer shelf life.
Health Effects of Trans Fats
Tran’s fats are the most harmful of the fats because they lower good HDL cholesterol while raising bad LDL cholesterol. This increases your risk for coronary heart disease. Trans fats have a more detrimental impact on your cholesterol levels than butter, which is composed of a saturated fat. The Institute of Medicine released a report in 2002 that said no amount of Tran’s fat is safe for consumption. Luckily, in January of 2006, the United States government required that all foods include Tran’s fats per serving upon their nutritional facts panel. Furthermore, some states have banned the use of Tran’s fats in restaurants and food vendors.
What Foods Have Trans Fats?
Tran’s fats are commonly found in commercially made margarine, shortenings, breakfast cereals, fried foods, crackers, potato chips, pastries, cookies, doughnuts, cakes and pies. You will want to check the label of the foods you purchase to make sure that they do not contain any harmful Trans fats.