Health Promotion & Knowledge Management

Creating Awareness on Health Effects of Fast food

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Facts About Fat

What are dietary fats and their effects?  

Fats and oils are made up of chains of molecule known as fatty acids. Fatty acids can be further classified into three major groups according to their chemical structure. These three groups of fatty acids are saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids. In addition to these, there are also unsaturated fatty acids known as trans fatty acids that can be found in processed or manufactured foods.    

Saturated fatty acids are a type of fat that is solidified at room temperature. This type of fat raises total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and increases the risk for heart disease. It is known as saturated fatty acids because every available site along its carbon chain is filled with a hydrogen atom. Saturated fatty acids are found mainly in animal fats 

Monounsaturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids are types of fat that are liquid at room temperature. They do not increase the levels of cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood. They are found in many vegetables oils.

Monounsaturated fatty acids are missing one pair of hydrogen atoms in the carbon chain, forming one double bond. Extra hydrogen atoms can be inserted chemically, which is why they are called “monounsaturated.” These fatty acids are found mostly in foods from plant origin. Monounsaturated fatty acids helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels without also lowering high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol) levels thus helping to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are missing more than one pair of hydrogen atoms in their carbon chain therefore they have more double bonds compare to monounsaturated fatty acids. They can be further divided into two sub–groups depending on the location of the first double bond along the carbon chain: omega–6 fatty acids (e.g., linoleic acid) and omega–3 fatty acids (e.g., alpha–linolenic acid).  . They cannot be synthesized by the body. They are essential for growth and overall health and therefore must be supplied through the diet. They are available from foods of plants or fish origin.  

Trans fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids that have been converted to saturated fats via natural fermentation or hydrogenation by adding hydrogen atoms to them. They increase cholesterol level and risk of getting coronary artery disease and heart attack. Trans fats are abundant in deep–fried foods, margarines and baked goods made with “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Nowadays, partially hydrogenated oils are used in everything from potato chips, snack foods, margarine to deep fried and fast foods. In the body, trans fat has been shown to be a more hazardous risk factor for heart disease than saturated fat. Studies have shown that dietary trans fats can increase levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that dietary trans fats can increase triglyceride levels and lipoprotein levels, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

What is cholesterol?  

Cholesterol is waxy fat carried through blood by lipoproteins. The two main types of lipoproteins are high density lipoproteins (HDLs) and low density lipoproteins (LDLs). HDLs carry LDLs away from artery walls. LDLs stick to artery walls and can cause plaque build-up which later leads to atherosclerosis thus LDLs are always said as bad cholesterol

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