- Fats: In the news, and out of it:
If you are like any other consumer, you are baffled by how rapidly and with predictable regularity, macronutrients* keep going in and out of style like fashion statements. In the 90′s, carbohydrates were the rage, while fats were demonized. As we cut out fat and got fatter, the nation’s carb intake went up because those fats were replaced with refined carbs, the worst kind, to maintain palatability. Also, somewhere along the way, proteins were elevated to stardom, due in no small part to the Atkins high protein revolution. Even today, proteins still have a halo around their heads, and carbs remain the nondescript cousins.
As for fats, we know so much more about this key nutrient today than we did in the 90’s. For starters, let’s take a closer look at why fats are important shall we?
- Functions in the body:
- Lip smacking good!
- First off, fats provide a sense of fullness and satiety after a meal. Ever wondered why putting a smidgen of peanut butter on your toast makes it so much more satisfying than having the toast by itself?
- Essentially fat
- Although fats have gotten a bad rap over the years they serve vital functions in the body, not the least of which is the provision of essential fatty acids called omega-3 and omega-6. These cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from food.
- Nature’s own blanket
- Hold the oil? May be not. Fats in the form of triglycerides are an important source of energy to the body, keep it warm (insulate you from the cold), serve as a mechanical barrier, and also serve as precursors for the production of important hormones. One needs dietary fats for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.
- Insurance against weight gain
- Indiscriminately cutting out fats can invariably lead to a compromise of flavor and satiety, possibly triggering more “nibbling“ and subsequent weight gain. Helps explain why low-fat diets fail doesn’t it?!
Please stay tuned to next week’s post when we discuss the different types of fats and how they impact your health.
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*macronutrients: Nutrients eaten in large amounts that provide energy.