Why The Fuss About Fats
Why Can Your Fat Choice Reduce Heart Disease Risk?
Contrary to misconceptions, fat is actually a nutrient with important functions, but it is crucial to know the risk factors associated with too much saturated fat.
Fat, including the monounsaturated fat found in quality olive oil, is a rich source of energy, providing more than double that of either carbohydrate or protein. It is a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It provides the essential fatty acids, including oleic acid linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, which are polyunsaturated.
To remain healthy, we need moderate amounts of the right type of unsaturated fats eaten as part of a good, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean Diet.. However, a high fat intake and in particular, a high intake of saturated fats is associated with raised blood cholesterol and coronary heart disease.
Olive Oil: Why choose it over other fats?
According to sports dietitians Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D. and Lori Nedescu, M.S., R.D.N. olive oil is one of the healthiest oils because of its heart-healthy fats.
Fats are made up of fatty acids and glycerol. A fatty acid consists of a chain of carbon atoms, where each carbon atom in the chain is attached to hydrogen atoms. The number of hydrogen atoms per carbon atom determines whether the fatty acid is saturated or unsaturated.
What Are Saturated fats?
If a fatty acid has all of the hydrogen atoms it can hold (2 per carbon atom in the chain) and all of the carbon atoms in the chain are linked by single bonds, it is described as saturated.
They are usually solid or semi-solid at room temperature and are strongly associated with raised blood cholesterol which is why nutritionists recommend eating them as little as possible. Lard, butter, hard cheeses, whole milk, animal fats and palm and coconut oils – plus products containing them – all contain high levels of saturated fat.
What Are Monounsaturated fats?
If a pair of carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain is linked by a double bond instead of a single bond, it is described as a monounsaturated fatty acid. Hope you’re still following us! Fats rich in monounsaturates tend to be liquid at room temperature. Olive Oil is one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Monounsaturated fats—omega-6s in the case of olive oil—are important because they help boost heart health. This is important for helping prevent health issues such as cardiovascular disease or stroke.
What about Polyunsaturated fats?
As the name suggests, these contain more than one double bond and are liquid at room temperature. The main sources of polyunsaturated fats are vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, corn oil and rapeseed, but not tropical oils such as coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.
Then There Are Trans fats!
Just when you thought you were keeping up, we introduce another one! Trans fats are created when a hydrogenation process is applied to solidify oil for use in margarines or to improve a product’s shelf life. This processing it to act like a saturated fats.
What Is In 1 Tablespoon Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
One serving or 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil contains the following:
- 120 calories
- 10 grams of monounsaturated fat
- 2 grams of saturated fat
- 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- 1.9 milligrams of vitamin E (10 percent of Daily Value)
- 8.1 micrograms of vitamin K (10 percent of DV)
The following illustrates the differing fat contents of a range of products.