Healthy fats in the diet are as important an element of the menu as wholesome protein or complex carbohydrates.
Fats, often considered to be the cause of overweight and the development of many diseases, actually perform many important functions in the human body. They can support the work of the brain, nervous or immune systems. In addition, healthy fats can reduce inflammation in the body and have a positive effect on lipid metabolism.
Why are fats important in your daily diet?
Fat is one of the basic macronutrients, the proper supply of which is necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
Fat is primarily a concentrated source of energy that provides the body with 9 kcal in 1 g of product. A macronutrient can be a building block in the human body, it can also have a positive effect on the nervous system and be a precursor, i.a. hormones important for the proper functioning of the body.
It is thanks to their presence, essential for the proper functioning of the system, vitamins can play their roles. Therefore, vitamin A can support vision and the process of seeing, vitamin D can strengthen immunity, vitamin E can positively affect the condition of the skin and neutralize free radicals, while vitamin K can participate in blood coagulation processes.
Division of fatty acids
Fatty acids can be divided according to their origin into:
- vegetable - oils obtained from plants that may be a source of unsaturated fatty acids,
- animal- fats obtained from animal tissues, which may be a source of mainly saturated fatty acids.
A frequently used division is also the distinction of fatty acids due to the structure of bonds in the molecule. Then you can distinguish:
- Saturated fatty acids - in their molecule there are no double bonds between carbon atoms. These are primarily fats of animal origin, which include butter, lard or fatty meat.
- Unsaturated fatty acids - In their molecule there is at least one double bond between carbon atoms. These are primarily fats of plant origin, although unsaturated fatty acids can also be found in fish.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids are fats that contain one double bond, e.g. avocado, olive oil, rapeseed oil.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids are fats that have more than one double bond. Their sources are products such as fish, sesame, sunflower or soy. Fatty acids from the omega-3 and omega-6 families can be distinguished.
It is also worth mentioning trans fats, i.e. a specific group of unsaturated fatty acids, which is distinguished by its shape and trans configuration. They can be found i.a. in animal fats and highly processed products.
What are the healthy fats?
So which fats are healthy?
Healthy fats are primarily polyunsaturated fatty acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Therefore, they are usually referred to as essential fatty acids (EFAs).
In this group, it is particularly worth paying attention to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which canmsupport the immune and nervous systems, as well as the proper functioning of the brain.
Among the fatty acids from the omega-3 family we can distinguish:
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA),
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA),
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
In turn, among the fatty acids from the omega-6 family you can find:
- linoleic acid (LA),
- arachidonic acid (AA),
- gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Monounsaturated fatty acids are also extremely important, the main representative of which is oleic acid.
Limiting saturated fatty acids in the daily diet, i.e. meat, animal products and highly processed dishes, and increasing the consumption of vegetable fats, fish and seeds can positively affect human health and improve the functioning of the whole body.
Healthy fats - where do they occur?
Healthy fats, as we have already mentioned, can be found primarily in products of plant origin, but also in fish or seafood.
It is worth including products such as:
- fatty sea fish,
- vegetable oils incl. olive oil or rapeseed oil,
- seeds e.g. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,
- dry legume seeds.
The importance of healthy fats
Healthy fats are an essential part of the daily diet, as they can, among others:
- be a source of energy for the body,
- have a positive effect on lipid metabolism,
- build cell membranes,
- have an antioxidant effect,
- affect the reduction of blood pressure,
- reduce the severity of inflammation in the body,
- be components of lipoprotein hormones or phospholipids,
- be part of the myelin sheaths of neurons and protect nerve conduction in the brain,
- support the fight against free radicals,
- enable proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
Fats can also provide a feeling of satiety, and adipose tissue can protect the body from heat loss. In addition, it can protect organs from damage.
Healthy fats in diet
Healthy fats are an integral component of a proper diet. They are necessary for the proper functioning of the human body.
However, fat is uneven, so it is worth paying attention to the type of fatty acids consumed every day.
It is worth reducing the share of saturated fatty acids in favor of unsaturated fatty acids in the daily menu, which can improve health parameters and well-being, as well as increase immunity and reduce inflammation in the body.
Fats are not an unnecessary element of the diet. They are extremely important, but it is worth remembering which of them can support the work of the system and which have a negative effect on it.