To stay healthy it is necessary to introduce a certain amount of fat with food, but it is also advisable not to overdo it
Fats, in addition to supplying energy in a concentrated way (9 calories / g, more than double compared to proteins and carbohydrates), provide essential fatty acids of the omega-6 family (linoleic acid) and of the omega-3 family (linolenic acid) and promote the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and carotenoids. An excessive consumption of fats in the usual diet represents instead a risk factor for the onset of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and tumors. The quantities of fats that ensure good health vary from person to person, depending on sex, age and lifestyle: an indicative amount for adults is the one that provides 20-25% of the total calories of the diet (for sedentary subjects) up to a maximum of 35% (for subjects with intense physical activity). Thus, for example, in a 2100-calorie diet those from fat can vary from 420 to 700, corresponding to 46-78 grams. For children under the age of 3, however, the dietary fat quota may be higher.
The quantities of fats present in food, both in visible form (ham fat, steak, etc.) and invisible (cheese fat, etc.), vary from one product to another and range from very low values (around ‘1% in various plant products and in certain meats and particularly lean fish) up to very high values in seasonings: 85% in butter and margarine and 100% in all oils
Food fats with a high content of saturated fatty acids tend to raise the level of cholesterol in the blood even more than it does the dietary intake of cholesterol itself.
These foods mainly include dairy products (cheese, whole milk, cream, butter), fatty meats and their derivatives and certain vegetable oils (palm oil and especially coconut oil).
Food fats with a high content of unsaturated fatty acids do not raise the level of cholesterol in the blood. These foods are mainly represented by vegetable oils (of seeds and olive), walnuts, hazelnuts, olives and fish.
Unsaturated fats include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil is particularly rich in monounsaturated, especially oleic acid, which presents two benefits: low blood LDL and VLDL lipoprotein levels decrease
– carry that part of cholesterol that tends to remain in the blood and to settle on the walls of the arteries (“bad cholesterol”)
– does not change, or even does increase, the levels of another type of lipoprotein: the HDL, which usefully work to remove cholesterol from the blood and from deposits in the arteries and to initiate it to elimination (“good cholesterol”).
Seed oil is generally rich in omega-6 type polyunsaturates, which are also effective in decreasing the level of LDL and VLDL in the blood. Fish fats are rich in fatty acids polyunsaturated of the omega-3 type, capable of decreasing the level of triglycerides in the blood as well as the ability to aggregate platelets (ie the risk of thrombosis), thus protecting the body from the possible onset of cardiovascular diseases. Unsaturated fatty acids could also play a role in preventing some forms of tumors.
Trans fatty acids tend to raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, favoring it also the increase in “bad cholesterol” compared to “good cholesterol”. Are present naturally in products derived from ruminant animals (meat and milk) or can be formed during some industrial treatments of vegetable fats and therefore be found in foods processed products containing them.
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