How Does Your Body Use Fats??

By Carolina Rossi – Dietitian/Nutritionist

Fats are complex molecules composed of fatty acids and glycerol. The body needs fats for normal growth and development, and for the absorption of certain vitamins such as A,D, E, K and carotenoids. It also uses them to synthesize hormones and other substances needed for the body’s activities.

Fat is the most concentrated form of energy. Each gram of fat supplies the body with about 9 calories, more than double of what is supplied by proteins or carbohydrates. Any excess energy is stored as fat. The body deposits excess fat in the abdomen and under the skin to use when it needs more energy. The body may also deposit excess fat in blood vessels and within organs, where it can block blood flow and damage organs, often causing serious disorders.

There are different kinds of fat:
– Monounsaturated
– Polyunsaturated
– Saturated

Foods derived from animals commonly contain saturated fats, which tend to be solid at room temperature. Fats derived from plants commonly contain monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids, which tend to be liquid at room temperature. Palm and coconut oil are exceptions. They contain more saturated fats than other plant oils.

Sources of fat

Monousaturated: Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocados, olives, nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews), peanut butter

Polyunsaurated: Soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, walnuts, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed or linseed, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), soymilk, tofu

Saturated: High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork), chicken with the skin, whole-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream), butter, palm and coconut oil, lard

There is also another type of fat called Tras fat. Trans fat is a variant of unsaturated fats, which have been chemically altered to improve their physical characteristics. They’re produced industrially to harden fats and oils.

It increases our risk of heart disease by increasing the “bad” LDL cholesterol, while also lowering the “good” HDL cholesterol in our blood. Naturally occurring trans fats are found in small amounts in dairy products, beef, veal, lamb and mutton.

Artificial, synthetic, industrial or manufactured trans fats are found in foods that use hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable fats, such as commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips), margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish), candy bars.

Written by:
Carolina Rossi
Accredited Practice Dietitian and Nutritionist
BHSc NutrDiet / Postgraduate Dip in Sports Nutrition
Postgraduate Dip in Functional Nutrition-Naturopathy