The primary function of fats in the body is to supply continuous energy. Fats also assist with thousands of important body functions including:
- Production of red and white blood cells – Fats are vital to the production and maintenance of both red and white blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body cells and white blood cells are an integral part of the body’s immune system
- Essential Fatty Acids – The body can make all but two fatty acids – omega 6 and omega 3. These fatty acids are vital for body functioning and must be supplied to the body through diet.
- Production of some hormones – Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are reliant on the presence of fat in the body
- Insulation – Fat stored on the body provides insulation and warmth to internal organs
- Transports fat soluble vitamins – Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble vitamins, so fat must be present in the diet to ensure absorption and utilisation of these nutrients.
Diseases associated with dietary fats like obesity and coronary heart disease comes as a result of excessive intake of inappropriate dietary fats.
Briefly, unsaturated fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds and olive oil. Your body needs these fats in small amounts to promote good health.
Foods to avoid are those that are high in saturated and trans fats like butter, margarine, fried foods, biscuits, crackers, pastries, pie etc.
As a general rule, eat fewer saturated and trans fats and consume small amounts of healthy monounsaturated and omega 3 and 6 fats and you will be on track!