It may sound strange, but fats are also a necessary nutrient. However, it is important that you pay attention to the nature and quantity of the fats you consume.
The best known functions of fats are
- Energy reserve in our body: when our carbohydrates are used up, we can get the necessary energy from our fat reserve to bridge the remaining time until our next meal.
- Protection and insulation: the fat layer acts as a cushion to protect our bones and organs and at the same time ensures that our body does not cool down too quickly when it is cold.
Some fatty acids also have other functions: they have a beneficial effect on growth and the skin, promote blood flow in the brain, are building blocks for tissues, stimulate brain development and function, maintain normal vision, contribute to visual development, ensure the normal functioning of the heart, etc.
Even some hormones and vitamins belong to the group of fats.
Relationship to health
A high fat intake leads to being overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
However, it is not only the fatty acids that play a role in this, but the combination with carbohydrates, alcohol, salt and other errors in the diet.
The essential fatty acids must certainly not be lacking in our diet. A few examples:
- Linoleic acid (omega-6) has a beneficial effect on growth and the skin. A shortage of linoleum can therefore lead to dry, flaky skin and, in infants, also to growth disorders. Moreover, linoleic acid reduces bad cholesterol (LDL).
- Omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect, reduces the heart rate and the risk of sudden death through cardiac arrest, for example.
A good ratio of omega-3/omega-6 helps to prevent strokes, depression, metabolic syndrome, cardiac arrhythmia, ADHD, etc.
- Limit total fat intake: moderate the consumption of spreadable and cooking fats, if necessary opt for light margarine or dressing, give preference to skimmed milk and dairy products and lean meat and meat products, moderate snacks containing fat, etc.
- Limit saturated fats: opt for food with a low fat content (dairy products, meat, etc.), avoid deep-frying and avoid hard fats (= fats with a high degree of melting).
- Essential fatty acids: vary types of oil, choose food containing these fatty acids, put fish on the menu several times a week.
- Limit trans fatty acids: moderate bakery products and high-fat snacks.
- Moderate your alcohol consumption.
- Eat vegetarian more often.
- Consult an orthomolecular doctor or therapist if you use omega-3 supplements.
- Translated from Dutch by Tamara Swalef -