What Are Fats? What Do You Need To Know About The Role Of Fat In Your Diet?
The type and amount of fat in your diet affects the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of cholesterol in the blood are a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Which do you prefer? A juicy steak or the taste of a good hamburger? The smoothness of ice cream or chocolate that melts in your mouth? The contrast between the silky vinaigrette and the crunch of fresh vegetables?
These foods, beloved by many, all have one thing in common. That is that they contain fat. Fat provides many of the great flavors and textures that make these and other foods so enjoyable for us.
In fact, fat has an effect on their ultimate acceptability. Changing the amount or type of fat does not change the characteristics that make food attractive.
Without fat, the food and the act of eating it would not be the same. But in thinking about “reducing the amount of fat,” we risk forgetting the important role that fat plays in our diets. This article explains why many foods need fats and how they can help you eat healthier.
What Are Fats?
The “building blocks” of fat are fatty acids. All fats are a combination of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They differ in the amount of hydrogen they contain. Saturated fatty acids contain more hydrogen (they are “saturated” with hydrogen). Polyunsaturated fatty acids contain the least amount of hydrogen.
What Foods Contain Fats?
Many foods contain fat in their natural state. Meat, dairy products, poultry, fish, nuts, and vegetable oils provide most of the fat consumed by Americans. Whole grains and vegetables, cooked without added fat, contain only small amounts of fat. Fruits (with the exception of avocados, coconuts, and olives) contain very little fat.
Many cooked foods also contain fat. Whether you make a cake at home “from scratch” with flour or buy a cake at a bakery, baked goods contain a lot of fat. Store-bought staples, such as butter and margarine products, margarine, and oil, also contain fat.
Why do we need different products such as butter, margarine, margarine products, margarine products, and oils?
Fats have multiple functions in food. Fat leaves a unique sensation in the mouth, giving a rich, soft, and creamy feeling that distinguishes many foods. It also absorbs and combines the flavors and aromas of ingredients to create the taste of each food.
In cakes and other baked goods, fats and oils help create height and fine textures. When preparing a mixture of fat and sugar, which is the first step in many cake-making batters, fat helps to trap tiny air bubbles and lighten the batter. The fat also prevents the batter from separating or sagging. It also coats the proteins in the flour, making the dough softer and fluffier.
Butter, margarine, margarine products, and fats all contain fats, but each has different properties that affect their action. As a result, they produce different effects and have a decisive impact on the acceptance of many foods.
Butter is ideal for certain types of baked goods because it is water-free and the water mixes with the flour to form gluten, which hardens the product. For example, butter can be used to make soft cakes or cookie dough, or cream puffs. Because both butter and margarine contain water, the hardness of the product is different but equally acceptable. Vegetable oils (other than olive oil) work best in many cake mixes.
The taste of fatty products can also affect their use. Many people like to use olive oil for sautéing, but its distinctive flavor may not be suitable for other uses, such as baked goods.
What is the difference between solid fats such as butter and margarine and liquid fats such as vegetable oils?
The difference between solid fats and liquid fats is mainly related to the type of fat they contain. All fats contain both saturated and unsaturated fats. Fats with higher saturated fat content are more solid at room temperature and require more heat to melt. Fats with higher unsaturated fat content tend to remain liquid at room temperature. These properties guide their functional use in meal preparation. For example, more saturated fats (solids) are more effective in some situations, such as delivering cream for cake batters. More unsaturated (liquid) fats are more effective in other applications, such as in salad dressings.
Some creams and margarines are made from partially hydrogenated liquid vegetable oils. These products are hydrogenated only to the extent necessary to achieve the desired texture and flavor. Hydrogenation increases the viscosity and melting point of the oil. Partially hydrogenated products contain more unsaturated fats than saturated fats. However, when unsaturated fats and oils are partially hydrogenated, trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fatty acids are naturally found in meat and dairy products in small amounts. Today, many margarine products, especially soft margarines, are made with low or no trans fats.
What Is The Role Of Fat In Our Diet?
The fat we consume from our food is essential to our health. Fats provide energy (9 calories per gram) and essential fatty acids for healthy skin and important hormones. Fats also transport and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
How Do Dietary Fats Affect Blood Cholesterol?
The type and amount of fat in the diet affect blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol in the blood is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that some saturated fats can raise blood cholesterol levels, while unsaturated fats can lower blood cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats are generally found in meat, egg yolks, milk, whole milk products, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil. Saturated fats are found in fish, nuts, and liquid vegetable oils. Stearic acid is found primarily in cocoa butter and animal products.
Studies have shown that foods containing trans fats have similar effects to saturated fats by raising total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. However, as with saturated fats, not all trans fats are created equal. Some studies have shown that some animal trans fats have a neutral or beneficial effect on blood cholesterol.
What Is The Difference Between Dietary Cholesterol And Dietary Fat?
Dietary cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can only be found in animal products such as meat, dairy products, butter and egg yolks. It is not found in vegetable oils, margarine, egg whites, or plant-based foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables. Also, foods that contain fat do not necessarily contain dietary cholesterol.
How Much Of Each Type Of Fat Should Be In The Diet?
A balanced diet contains a moderate amount of fat; the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 20 to 35 percent of calories as fat, most of which comes from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources. Consumption of saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol should be minimized.