Chapter 7 – Nutrition
Fats (lipids) are the most concentrated source of energy at 9 calories per gram. Fats provide long term stored energy, insulation, cushion and help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Depending on the fatty acid structure a lipid may be monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated.
Linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linoleic acid (omega 3) are examples of polyunsaturated fats and are essential components of a healthy diet. These healthy fats have an interactive roll in cell metabolism as well as overall vascular health which reduces risk of certain types of heart disease.
When unsaturated fats go through a process of hydrogenation some fatty acids are changed to trans-fats. This hydrogenation process makes liquid fats (such as oils) solid at room temperature and resistant to spoilage. Many food manufacturers used hydrogenated oils in processed foods to give these foods a longer shelf-life. However, trans-fats have a negative impact on health by raising levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol (HDL). Trans-fats are associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes.
Cholesterol is a fat-like (lipid-like) substance that your body uses as a building block to produce hormones, vitamin D, and digestive juices that help you break down fats in your diet. HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol) are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol to and from the body’s cells in the blood.The body needs some cholesterol to function, but when levels get too high, fatty deposits can accumulate in blood vessels, which causes them to narrow. This narrowing of the blood passageways by these lipids can lead to heart attacks, coronary artery disease, strokes, or other vascular diseases.