Like carbohydrates, fat is fuel for the body, especially useful for long-term aerobic exercise. It helps with the digestion of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and it promotes a feeling of fullness after eating.
It plays an important part in the production of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting and the nervous system.
Fat also provides essential fatty acids, in particular omega-3, which is found in several fats and oils, mainly fish, soy and flax seed. The various omega-3 fatty acids help us with brain development, nervous system function and eyesight. Many experts also believe they reduce the risk of arthritis, some cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
But all those benefits don`t mean hourly olive oil shooters would be a good idea. As is the case with proteins and carbs, eating fat requires a little restraint. About 20-30% of your calories should be from fat, otherwise, you open yourself up to a world of hurt.
Keeping in mind that a gram of fat is 9 calories, as opposed to 4 calories in a gram of protein or carbohydrates, you should be eating about half as much. And fatty foods tend to be dense, so a little goes a long way. Too much fat can lead to heart disease and diabetes. Fat can also, well, make you fat. This, in turn, can lead to various complications including liver disease and diabetes.
Next week, we`ll discuss the different kinds of fat.
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