What Is Fats Function In The Body – Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, R.D., L.D. — By Jennifer Chesak, MSJ — Updated June 25, 2020
So, you’ve jumped on the avocado toast bandwagon because of its whipped, green goodness full of healthy fats — which help your body function in terms of:
- 1 What Is Fats Function In The Body
- 2 Function Of Fats
- 3 Belly, Hips, Thighs: Where Your Body Fat Is Matters
- 4 The Function Of Dietary Fat Includes All The
- 5 The Truth About Fats: The Good, The Bad, And The In Between
What Is Fats Function In The Body
Except the wrong type of fat will not help here, and if you are confused about what is good fat and bad fat and why – you are not alone. We’ve cut through the noise so you can learn which fats can help you hit your goals and which ones you should kick out of your diet.
Official Body Fat Percentage Chart: Ideal Body Fat For Men And Women By Age
“Fat is an energy provider,” says Mindy Haar, PhD, a registered dietitian and assistant dean of undergraduate affairs at the NYIT School of Health Professions. “Fats are the last to leave the digestive tract and thus provide a feeling of satiety.” That is, fat can help us feel fuller for longer and prevent us from overeating or snacking, especially on fake carbs.
This is a category of fat that gets an A+ report card for health benefits. It can be divided into two categories:
Monounsaturated fats can lower LDL while maintaining HDL. Research shows that it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
You may have heard for years that saturated fat is on the naughty list for raising LDL. But a new study shows that eating more saturated fat is also associated with an increase in HDL, which leads to a decrease in total cholesterol.
The Cellular And Functional Complexity Of Thermogenic Fat
Now recommends consuming less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. However, researchers are calling for a change in this recommendation because it could cause more harm than good if we replace our beloved fats with processed carbohydrates to fill us up.
In a large study, they showed that if we replace calories from saturated fat with calories from refined carbohydrates – such as white rice and bread – we can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. But increasing your intake of total fat, saturated or unsaturated, is associated with a lower risk. You probably shouldn’t wrap every meal in bacon, but you shouldn’t shy away from a whole milk latte – it’s about eating smart. (You’ll also want to avoid eating a lot of saturated fat and refined carbs at the same time, which means pulling back on staple bread and butter.)
PS: What makes saturated fat saturated? Check consistency at room temperature. Saturated fats remain solid when they come out, while unsaturated fats are liquid.
One trick to understanding healthy fats is to look at packaging and processing. Packaged and processed foods are more likely to have bad fats. Whereas whole, unprocessed foods contain more good fats.
Function Of Fats
Like the class clown, fat has a reputation as a troublemaker. When compared to the other two macronutrients of our diet – carbohydrates and proteins – fat is one of us raising our eyebrows. But the fat bad rap is unfounded and comes from decades of misleading or confusing info in the diet and nutrition industry.
“Fat plays an important role in the absorption of vitamins, A, D, E, [and] K; affects the immune system components; regulates body temperature; provides structure for cell membranes, and therefore affects various biological functions,” said Lori Zanini, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.
Fat is indeed an essential nutrient needed to survive and thrive, but not all fats are created equal. As long as we avoid artificial trans fats, such as those found in fried foods and pastries, we can use the rest of the good and delicious fats to power us through the day.
If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current number on the scale, fat can be a healthy part of your strategy. But that doesn’t mean you have to make fat your source of nutrition. Consuming too much fat can lead to weight gain because fat is calorie dense compared to other macronutrients. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories. Carbohydrates and proteins each contain 4 calories per gram.
Classification And Biological Functions Of Lipids
Ultimately, maintaining a healthy weight is all about the basics: eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise.
Everyone is different, so if you have specific fitness or health goals, Zanini recommends consulting with a dietitian who can help you determine a nutrition plan that’s right for you.
What this information all explains: Fat is your friend. “Having a balance and quality of fats in your diet is key to properly fueling your body,” Zanini says.
Now that you know what good fats are, here’s what can masquerade in your food as healthy: artificial trans fats, aka artificial fats. They are created when hydrogen molecules are pumped into vegetable oil.
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“This hydrogenation process creates denser fats that tend to go rancid and thus extend the shelf life of processed foods,” says Haar, PhD.
Trans fats can be found in everything from frozen pizza to doughnuts, cookies, crackers, and cakes. Food manufacturers must list trans fat in grams (g) on the label. However, note that the FDA currently allows foods with 0.5 g of trans fat to be listed as 0 or trans fat free.
Instead of looking at grams, check the ingredients list and avoid eating foods with the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.”
What about natural trans fats? Yes, naturally occurring trans fats are a thing! This fat is found in some meat and dairy foods and is considered safe and even beneficial. Unlike artificial trans fats, humans have been eating natural trans fats for centuries.
Belly, Hips, Thighs: Where Your Body Fat Is Matters
Artificial trans fats in our food will apply. However, this does not take responsibility for label reading. Some manufacturers will have up to three years to comply, meaning artificial trans fats will still be in circulation – and we know how long that will last!
When cutting out artificial trans fats, make sure you read food labels. And to combine all the beneficial fats, we have provided you with information to improve your health and eat foods that keep you full and satisfied. Please pass the Parmesan!
Jennifer Chesak is a Nashville-based freelance book editor and writing instructor. He is also an adventure travel, fitness, and health writer for several national publications. He earned a Master of Science in journalism from Medill Northwestern and is working on his first fictional novel, set in his home state of North Dakota.
Has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We do not use tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
The Function Of Dietary Fat Includes All The
Our experts are constantly monitoring the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Without fat the body cannot maintain a healthy balance of hormones. This is because our body needs a certain amount of fat to synthesize enough sex hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
We women also need more essential fats than men (on average 4 times more). Without this fat the body cannot function properly, and all systems such as the endocrine and immune systems are affected.
About 60% of our brain is made up of fat – the brain needs fat for energy and to keep itself going.
Without enough fat, the fatty layer around brain cells (myelin) breaks down, so communication between cells slows down, causing brain fog, low energy and cognitive decline. Therefore, fats, especially Omega-3, are important for mood stability, sharpening memory and protecting the brain from decline.
All About Lipids
Including natural, healthy fats in your diet will reduce the absorption of the carbohydrates you eat at the same time – this can help reduce insulin resistance, keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent energy crashes.
Fat also keeps you full and satisfied for longer and stimulates the release of hormones that help control appetite (GLP-1, PYY & cholecystokinin).
Fat helps better absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) into the bloodstream. Therefore, not getting enough fat can lead to nutritional deficiencies that can lead to hormonal imbalances.
So if you want your body to better absorb all the vitamins found in vegetables and greens, have fun with healthy fats (such as avocados, seeds, nuts, extra virgin olive oil).
The Truth About Fats: The Good, The Bad, And The In Between
Omega-3 helps prevent inflammation in the skin, this way it reduces redness and acne. It also helps keep the skin plump and hydrated, and protects it from UV damage.
Linoleic acid (found in seeds & nuts) improves skin barrier function and consequently skin moisture, elasticity & firmness.
Wysoczański, T., Sokoła-Wysoczańska, E., Pękala, J., Lochyński, S., Czyż, K., Bodkowski, R., Herbinger, G., Patkowska-Sokoła, B., & Librowski, T. ( 2016). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Their Role in the Central Nervous System – A Review.
Rathod, R., Kale, A., & Joshi, S. (2016). New insights into the effects of vitamin B₁₂ and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function.
Essential Nutrients Of The Human Body
Lin, P. Y., & Su, K. P. (2007). A meta-analytic review of placebo-controlled trials of the antidepressant effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
Mandøe, M. J., Hansen, K. B., Hartmann, B., Rehfeld, J. F., Holst, J. J., & Hansen, H. S. (2015). 2-monoacylglycerol
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