Nutrition and Information Guide: Fats

About fat, nutritional information guide, uses, effects of deficiency, overdoses, good sources of fat, difference between saturated and unsaturated fat.


Use in the Body: Provide energy by furnishing calories to the body, and act as carriers for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats help make calcium available to body tissues, particularly bones, and promote normal growth and healthy blood, arteries, and nerves. They keep skin and other tissues from becoming dry and scaly. They may also be necessary for transporting and breaking down cholesterol (itself a fat). Fat deposits protect the heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs and hold them in place. A fat layer under the skin preserves heat, insulates the body against cold, and rounds out the body contours.

Deficiency May Lead to: A deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins. Also eczema, psoriasis, and other skin disorders. Extreme deficiency will retard growth.

Overdose May Lead to: Obesity and indigestion. If fats cannot be fully metabolized, they become toxic.

Notes: Fats, or lipids, are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. They are composed of fatty acids, of which there are 2 types:

1) Saturated fats--fats that are hard at room temperature and which come primarily from animal sources.

2) Unsaturated (including polyunsaturated) fats--usually liquid at room temperature and come from vegetable sources.

Two important lipids in the diet are cholesterol (a component in most tissues) and lecithin (concentrated in the brain and nerve tissue).

Best Sources: Milk products, eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, margarine, butter, lard, and oils.

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