Fat – Is it Good or Bad ?

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 Fat is one of the three main macronutrients with carbohydrate and protein. lipid is the chemical name used for fat by preffessional. That’s why to check the cholesterol level in blood, Doctors suggest the lipid profile test. Fat is a concentrated energy source for body as 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories (Kcal), much more than of protein or carbohydrate that  provides 4 calories (Kcal) per gram.

Body fat can be divided into essential fat and storage fat. Essential fat is needed for the body’s adequate functioning and is stored in the body’s major organs such as the heart, lungs and muscles.  On the other hand, Storage fat is stored by the body for later use as a fuel and is also required for good health. In females, essential fat accounts for at least 10- 13% of body weight while the acceptable level is  30% of body weight. If it goes up to 30-35% then your are overweight. In males, the minimum level of fat is 5% and acceptable level is up to 25% of total body weight. If it goes up to 26-30%, then you are surely obese.

What good things Fat does ?

Fat does lots of good things for our body as it pads or cushions our internal organs in the chest and abdomen i.e fat protects the internal organs  from damage. Suppose if you were riding a horse and you didn’t have internal fat in your body then your internal organs would slam into each other during the ride and an individual may die.

Fat acts as an insulator of body and help us to maintain the adequate body temperature. The people who have eating disorder Anorexia nervosa, are usually underweight and have low level of fat in their body due to which the overall temperature of their body reduces. In this condition a phenomenon occurs that an individual starts to grow excessive hairs particularly around arms (layer of hairs) to keep the body’s temperature warmer. That’s why we need the base line amount or minimum level of fat in order to maintain the appropriate body temperature.

Fat plays an essential part in the formation of cell membrane. Due to low fat, an individual may have week nails and hairs, might have skin problems as they have unhealthy cell membrane structure. Women having very low level of body fat may suffer the problems of Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), infertility, hair loss & decreased bone density.

Fat also assists the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K around the body. Fat also contributes texture, taste, mouth-feel, flavour and arroma to foods.

Common sources of Fats

  • Meat, Fish, poultry, Legumes, seeds, eggs & nuts
  • Dairy products
  • Fruits like coconuts & Avocados
  • Added fats are oil, butter & margarine.

Bad Fats

Saturated and Trans fats are considered as bad fats.

Saturated fats are tend to be solid at room temperature. It mainly comes from animal sources of food, such as red meat, beef & poultry . Other sources are dairy products like whole milk, butter, ice-cream, cheese, palm & coconut oil. Please remember that, MeatCheese, Butter and Ghee are the major sources of saturated fat. Its very dangerous for people who are suffering from cardiovascular disease and also for the ones who are at the verge of Heart diseases. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Trans Fat is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

The table 1 given below shows the comparison of Fats and other nutritional values found in 100 gram of Meat, Cheese, Butter & Ghee (Clarified Butter). Information about Dietary  minerals and vitamins are not given in table 1.

(Table 1)*Per cent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your Daily values may be higher or lower as per your calorie needs.

Good Fats

Good fats are generally unsaturated, they tends to be liquid at room temperature. Types of unsaturated fats are Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated & Omega-3 fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fatty acids are found in a variety of  plant foods and oils. Studies have shown that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Good sources of unsaturated fats are;

  • Avocado
  • Canola oil, Olives, Olive oil, Peanut, Sesame oil & safflower oil
  • Sesame seeds & Nuts

Polyunsaturated fatty acids usually found in number of plant-based oils, it also improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease the risk of heart diseases. Sources are;

  • soybean oil, corn oil & sunflower oil,
  • fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout.

The table 2. given below shows the comparison of Fats found in 100 gram of  different edible oils, Information about Dietary  minerals and vitamins are not given in table 2.

(Table 2)*Per cent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your Daily values may be higher or lower as per your calorie needs.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in some types of fatty fish and plant oils, appears to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease, improve cholesterol level in blood, curb stiffness and joint pain, development of infantsAsthmaAlzheimer’s disease and dementia. There have also been promising results from studies looking at omega3 for cancer, depression, and Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids presented in human physiology are Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (found in plant oils), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (both commonly found in marine oils).

The body has a limited ability to manufacture EPA and DHA by converting the essential fatty acid, Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is found in flaxseed oil, canola oil or walnuts. Thats why body may need external dietry sources to fullfill the additional need of  Omega-3 fatty acids. The sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are 

  • Flaxseed, canola oil,
  • English walnuts,
  • specialty eggs, 
  • Fish & fish oils.

Fats on the basis of their Positions 

On positional basis, fats can be classified in two types; Visceral Fat & Subcutaneous Fat.


Visceral fat is considered as bad fat. It is also called as Intra-abdominal fat or abdominal fat as it is located inside abdominal cavity which include stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, small intestine, kidneys, large intestine, and adrenal glands. Visceral fat wraps around all organs in abdominal cavity. An excess amount of visceral fat is known as central obesity or belly fat, in which the abdomen protrudes (Comes outward) excessively. High level of visceral fat increases the risk of type 2 diabetesinsulin resistance, inflammatory diseases, and other obesity-related diseases. It very dangerous fat since it elevates the bad level of cholesterol. 

According to Katie Ferraro (MPH, RD, CDE- Assistant clinical Professor, University of California, San Francisco) for females having waist circumference higher than 35 inches indicate the high level of visceral fat while for males the waist circumference higher than 40 inches indicate the high level of visceral fat.

According to “Health, Aging & Body composition” a study published in journal “Hypertension 2001 Sep”. This was the study with the sample size of 2500 people who were 70-79 years of age. Researchers found that those having more abdominal or visceral fat had more stiffer arteries than those with less fat irrespective of whether they were normal weight, overweight or obese.

Subcutaneous Fat is much less dangerous than the visceral fat as it is not related to obesity-related problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke, and some evidence even suggests it might be protective. Subcutaneous fat lies under the skin or found very close to the skin in areas like stomach, thighs and buttocks as you can see in above picture, and therefore poses less of a health risk compared to visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat works as shock absorber, cushions our skin against trauma, and also stores energy, which the body uses as fuel for latter use.

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