Essential Fatty Acids
Fats consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and belong to the group of molecules called lipids. Generally dietary fat is essential for the body to function properly. Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K are all fat soluble vitamins, which means fat is required for their digestion, absorption and transportation. Essential fatty acids are not made by the body and must be obtained from ingested fat for example alpha linoleic acid also known as omega-3 fatty acid. Fatty acids help with body functions such as blood pressure control, blood clotting and inflammation.
Sources of essential fatty acids
We have sorted our nutrition database by omega-3 content (more correctly alpha linolenic acid - the principal omega-3 fatty acid) so you can easily see how much fat is contained in different foods. You can also search through our database using the search box below or browse the fat content by food category.
omega-3 content by food category:
Fats are broken down in the body to give glycerol and fatty acids. Glycerol can be converted into glucose in the liver and used as a source of energy. The fatty acids are also a good source of energy. Fat provides 9 kCal of energy per gram which is more than double the energy provided by carbohydrate or protein (4 kCal).
Fats are grouped into the following types saturated fats, unsaturated fats, mono-unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fatty acids, hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids.
What really matters is the type of fat in the diet. Bad fats, ie saturated and trans fats, increase the risk for certain diseases while good fats, meaning monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, lower the risk. For a healthy diet replace saturated and trans fats (the bad fats) with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Although cholesterol is in food the average person makes about 75% of cholesterol in the liver and about 25% is absorbed through food. The fats in your diet have the largest influence on blood cholesterol levels. Although it is still important to limit the amount of cholesterol you eat.
Excess saturated fat can cause cholesterol to build up within the arteries.
Excess fat in the diet because of the high calorie content, can increase your chances of obesity, which increases the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
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