What is Fat and What Fat Does?

What is Fat and What Fat Does?

What is Fat? Fat is both a nutrient and a food. As As a nutrient, it supplies concentrated energy. As a food, it adds flavor to meals. A scientific name for fat and fat like substances is lipid.
Fat itself is a compound of many types of fatty acids and a body chemical called glycerol. Your body can make most fatty acids from the fats you eat. But some fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body. They must be present in the foods themselves. These essential fatty acids are necessary for good health.

Like carbohydrate and protein, fat is made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The chemical structure of fat is like a chain. Fat can be saturated, unsaturated, or polyunsaturated, depending on how much hydrogen is on the chain. A saturated fat molecule has as much hydrogen on its chain as it can hold. An unsaturated fat has less hydrogen, and a polyunsaturated fat has still less hydrogen. You can actually see the effect of this chemical structure. The more saturated a fat is, the more solid it is at room temperature. Oils are polyunsaturated.

Sometimes a manufacturer will hydrogenate, or add hydrogen to, an oil so that it will be more solid at room temperature. For example, margarine made from polyunsaturated oils is hydrogenated.

What Fat Does?

Fat gives you more energy than any other nutrient. It has more than twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrate and protein. Fatty acids are vital to cell growth, too.

Fat carries several vitamins through the body. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble. That is, the body can use them efficiently only if fat is also present in the diet.

Your body stores body fat, or adipose tissue. You need some adipose tissue for good health. A layer of fat below your skin acts as an insulator. It helps keep your body warm.

It also holds your vital organs in place and protects them from injury.

At mealtime, fats like butter and gravy add flavor to foods, such as bread and potatoes. A meal value with some fat also has greater staying power. It results to satiety. That is, it make you feel full longer.


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