There are different types of body fat with different benefits and dangers. This article will discuss the types of body fat and explain how each type impacts health. What are the different types of body fat, and what are their dangers, benefits, and treatment options? Fats are essential macronutrients that are very important for the human body to carry out some important functions.
They act as a protective shell around the skeleton and nerves of your body. Alongside, they provide energy to the body to carry out essential functions throughout the day. Fats are mainly taken through food and stored within the body. This is stored in order to obtain some specific functions from it like, protection, thermal insulation, and energy. Alike the other essential nutrients like protein and carbohydrates, fat is high in calories. Per gram of fat provides the body with 9 calories which is more than double the amount provided by protein and carbs. Now, all the fat that we consume through food is either used to serve as energy for performing certain essential biological processes. Some of which include digestion, cell growth, hormone regulation, absorption of essential vitamins, etc. All these are performed while the whole body stays at rest. But when the fat intake is more than that needed to perform these activities, then the body stores the excess fat for further use.
This storage of extra fat takes place in the white adipose cells. Now the question is, Is only fat intake from external food responsible for fat build-up in the human body? The answer is an absolute NO. Apart from the fat that we consume via fat, our liver also works day and night to make fat for our body. It does so by the conversion of protein and carbohydrates that we consume. Hence, it is said that just cutting down on fatty food won’t make you slim. You need to also follow a protein and carbohydrate-maintained diet for losing weight.
Having known what fat is and why it is found in the human body, now let’s know the various types of fat.
As we know, fats are actually the triglycerides that contain three fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol module. So, it is quite evident that these are nothing else than modified or advanced versions of hydrocarbon chains. Therefore, as the nomenclature of the two types of fats suggests, these are long saturated or unsaturated carbon chains. Essentially it means the number or density of hydrogen atoms attached to the carbon chain.
As the name suggests, saturated fat is actually the carbon chain that is covered with hydrogen atoms. The number of hydrogen atoms connected to the carbon chain follows the basic saturated chain formula. Now since the number of hydrogen atoms is more so definitely it will affect the properties of the fat thus formed. So, the vegetable oils that are formed out of these saturated fats are found to be solid at room temperature. And thus due to its solid nature, though being essential its consumption should be limited. The safe limit of consuming saturated fat per day is estimated to be around 13 grams. Any limit above this limit will affect the body adversely.
Some of the health issues which are known to develop due to excess saturated fat consumption are mentioned below.
- Hiking up your cholesterol level, especially the levels of LDL increases a lot.
This in turn increases the risk of developed cardiovascular diseases. It can even cause blockage in the arteries of your heart. So, it’s better you limit the consumption of saturated fat on daily basis. Now to limit the consumption of saturated fat, it is important you know the edibles that contain saturated fat. Some of the saturated fat-containing items are butter, eggs, whole-milk dairy products, and red meats along with coconut and palm oils. So, if you are planning to limit saturated fat intake, then start with limiting the use of these edibles.
Now while talking about the unsaturated fat, these are actually the long carbon chains with less hydrogen attached to them. This property makes them stay liquid at room temperature. They are obtained from plants like vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc, and are thus found in plant-based oils. Due to its natural origin, the fat is called good fat. Now, these unsaturated fats are also not found in a single type. They are composed of two types of unsaturated fat. Let us have some light on them as well.
These are the unsaturated carbon chains that have only one unsaturated bond. It is found in vegetable oils like olive oil and peanut oil. They are liquid at room temperature but turn solid when refrigerated. These fats are very helpful in lowering the levels of LDL cholesterols in the body and maintaining a good level of HDL cholesterol. But simply substituting your dietary fat with monosaturated fat is not helpful unless you cut down the intake of saturated fat. Overall is very helpful in reducing the risks of cardiac problems, and chronic diseases and helps you stay healthy. The food items that contain monounsaturated fats that can easily be added to your regular diet are avocados, nuts like hazelnut, almonds, and olive oil.
These kinds of fats are those containing a good number of unsaturated chemical bonds. This provides them with good health-related properties and makes them stay liquid at room temperature and also in the refrigerator. These types of fats are obtained from fish and are known to have two types.
Omega-3 fatty acids
This kind of fatty acid is found in polyunsaturated fats that are obtained from fish. These provide health benefits in a number of ways. It reduces the triglyceride levels in the blood, enhances the health of joints and eyes, and also improves the healthy functioning of the heart. Apart from these, studies show that omega-3 fatty acids might also help in slowing down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Hence, a lot of healthy effects can be obtained from omega-3 fatty acids. The food items from which you can obtain omega-3 fatty acids are salmons, mackerel fish, and even algae.
Omega-6 fatty acids
This kind of polyunsaturated fat is obtained from plant-based sources like green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, and various kinds of seeds. Though this kind of fat is also considered healthy for the heart many studies have shown that it can also lead to inflammation. So, before adding extra omega-6 fatty acid to your diet, make sure to consult your dietician.
Trans fats are among the most unhealthy forms of fat available on the market. These are sold in the edible industry on a large scale for the various monetary benefits they provide to the seller. But in actuality for the consumers, this is among the worst kind of edible. It affects the consumer’s body in a variety of harmful ways. Some of the harmful effects of trans fat are mentioned below.
- Enhances your LDL cholesterol levels
- Lowers the amount of good HDL cholesterol levels
All these effects on cholesterol levels in turn make your body vulnerable to various problems. Some of the most common health problems associated with trans fat consumption are heart-ailments, the development of type-2 diabetes, and even stroke. Most of the trans fat is found in processed and junk foods to enhance their taste and shelf life. This happens by the solidification of the trans fat (hydrogen added to vegetable oils). This causes the oil to solidify on the edible surface and thus enhance its shelf-life. So, it is advisable to cut down the consumption of processed food as much as possible. Each type of fat we consume has a separate impact on the body. So, it is very important to know about the way fat affects your body before consuming a certain kind of fat. It helps your body to stay protected from any harmful effects and also allows healthy energy flow and functioning of the body.
Each type of fat we got to know about so far is important for performing different types of functions in our body. It is not totally a healthy option to completely limit yourself on consuming unsaturated fat and restricting the intake of trans and saturated fats. Instead, you can do one thing, you can replace the excess amount of saturated or trans fat with some healthy alternatives. Like, replace the saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat to reduce your risk of heart problems. Or exchange it with the consumption of avocado, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables. While eliminating trans fat from food may have some other substitute to cover up the taste, texture, and shelf-life of the food. It can be filled with lots of salt and sugar or contain unhealthy saturated food. So, it is very important every time you are going to buy processed food, check the content level on the package. Check for the levels of different types of fats, salt and sugar level. If you find them beyond the limited or healthy extent then kindly discard them from usage. This will help you to stay healthy and make your body also happy.
Having known the benefits and risks associated with the consumption of each kind of fat separately above. Now let us have a look at the overall view on the health benefits of the presence of fat in our body or the benefits of consuming it. Some of the major benefits are mentioned below.
- Consumption of dietary fats provides the body with the required fatty acids that are not produced by the body.
- Fats are necessary for our body to absorb certain kind of vitamins which dissolves only in fat and are essential for our body. These vitamins include vitamin A, D, and E.
- Our lungs are made to function properly by the presence of a fatty layer of saturated fat over the lungs. They help in reducing the chances of respiratory problems and especially asthma.
- Our skin stays healthy with proper consumption of fat. The skin is made up of cells and the cell membranes are made up of fat. So, if the fat consumption is cut below the required level then it can lead to skin infection or other skin-related problems.
- Fats are essential for the healthy upkeep of our immune system. The presence of saturated fatty acids in the body makes white blood cells healthy and helps them recognize and attack foreign elements. But its presence can hamper the proper functioning of the human immune system.
Now after knowing so much about the health benefits that these fats provide to our bodies. Let us now know about the dangers or risks to health associated with excess consumption of fats.
- Excess fat in the body is the major cause of obesity and overweight. This in turn brings with it a lot of harmful health problems. Some of these include sleeping disorders, an increase in male hormone levels, and heart problems.
- Extra fat in the obese body makes it affects the insulin level in the body. This in turn levels the development of diabetes. Which again results in heart problems.
- Causes the development of vision loss with growing age.
- Extra fat in the body can hamper the working of your digestive system as well. It leads to gastrointestinal problems and results in inflammation.
- Neurological problems in adults can also result from extra fat consumption. Besides, it affects the neurological growth of children if they are obese.
Hence, it is important that you reduce your extra fat consumption and eat only the required amount for a healthy diet. This will not only help in making you fit but also keep your heart healthy. If you are unsure about the amount of fat you should add to your regular diet, then better for you to consult your doctor. She/ he may help you the most here.
Fats are essential nutrients that our body needs for a variety of energy-involved functions. Unless you consume a healthy diet to allow your body either obtain fat from food or make it within your body, your body is prone to various health risks. Besides, if you consume an excessive amount of fat and unhealthy food, then also your body is prone to health risks. So, every time you sit to eat make sure, you have filled up your platter with a healthy quantity of each kind of nutrient required by the body. Also, restrict yourself you’re consuming processed and packaged food. This brings into your body a lot of cardiac issues and spikes up the cholesterol level.