When we mention fats, we are referring to lipids, which includes a number of different compounds from fatty acids to triacylglycerols. Lipids play many roles in the body and should be included in our diet as an energy source and a source of essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids cannot be made in the body and include polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) linoleic acid of the omega-6 family and alpha-linoleic acid of the omega-3 family.
They are found in abundance in foods such as grains, seeds, flaxseeds and spirulina. A popular source of omega-3 fatty acids is oily fish. There are many health benefits to consuming essential fatty acids including maintenance of blood clotting and lowering of blood pressure.Fat is also needed in order to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, K and E which have a number of benefits, amongst other things, for eyesight, skin and bones.
Cholesterol is a substance made by our bodies but also found in some foods. It has various functions including making vitamin D and some hormones. However too much of a certain type of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease.
There are two types of cholesterol, HDL and LDL. Cholesterol is carried in the blood by lipoproteins of which there are two main forms, low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is seen as ‘bad cholesterol’ as it can increase the chances of heart disease, whilst HDL cholesterol is seen as ‘good cholesterol’ as it can protect against heart disease.
Exercise is a great way to get a healthy cholesterol level but it is important to keep an eye on diet. Saturated fats increase the amount of cholesterol and unsaturated fats, found in nuts and oily fish reduce it. Avocado is a food known to boost the amount of HDL cholesterol in the body.