In terms of fats, in the past it was believed (although believed by some today) that their consumption is making people fat and this is the main cause of obesity. This leads to the degreasing of many foods on the food market and the general misconception that fats are nothing but harmful.
In modern times, there is a wealth of scientific evidences that this is far from true. Fats play an important role in the human body, and excluding them from our menu may have a negative effect rather than contributing to our health, especially as regards unsaturated fatty acids.

What the fats are
Fats are compounds with a diverse chemical composition, but with the same physicochemical properties – they have limited solubility in water and high solubility in ethers, chloroform and benzene. Also lipids are one of the three main groups of nutrients and are a major energy supplier. The oxidation of 1 g of fat releases 9 kcal, which is 2 times more than the energy supplied by the same amount of protein or carbohydrates. From a dietary point of view, they can be divided into several types:
• Saturated fatty acids
They are solid at room temperature and are mainly found in foods of animal origin such as dairy products, meat, eggs and seafood. Some plant foods also have a high content of saturated fat such as cocoa butter, coconut and palm oil. Whether they are actually harmful or useful has been the subject of serious debate in the scientific community to this day. On the one hand, many doctors support the view that saturated fatty acids increase the risk of arterial obstruction, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, while others believe that they are harmless and do not pose a risk to our health despite increasing cholesterol in the blood.

• Unsaturated fatty acids
They are called unsaturated, because they are unsaturated with hydrogen in their chemical composition. They are liquid at room temperature and are mainly found in foods of vegetable origin such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and some types of fish. For this type of fat, almost all experts agree that they have a positive effect on our health, especially important are the so-called essential fats – omega-3 fatty acids, which the human body cannot synthesize and need to get through food. Their consumption reduces the levels of “LDL” and total cholesterol.

• Trans-fats
This is undoubtedly the most harmful type of fat, with the unanimous opinion that they pose serious risks to human health. This type of fat is mainly found in packaged foods, as food manufacturers subject unsaturated fats to a process called hydrogenation to preserve them for a longer time and increase their chemical stability. The more hydrogenated the fat, the harder it is at room temperature. Trans fats are metabolized difficult and very slowly by the body. Examples of foods containing such fats are margarine, chips, snacks, fried foods and semi-finished products.

• Conclusion
Fats are one of the main sources of nutrients and as such are important for maintaining good health. They have many important functions in the body. It is also important to know that choosing the sources of fat we consume is critical to whether they can harm us or benefit us. It is also good to know our genetic characteristics about saturated fats and still be careful about them, while we can afford to consume unsaturated fats in greater quantities and optimize our health.

“Nutrition and Sports” – Prof. Dr. Diana Dimitrova
Lectures on Biochemistry, NSA, 2014

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