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WATCH: Know your fats: Doctor spells difference between good vs bad

Kathleen A. Llemit (Philstar.com) - February 8, 2021 - 3:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Most of us love our fats. Proof this is our love for fatty foods like the crispy pata, lechon kawali, crispy fried chicken skin and, of course, our fast food fries.

These are all our guilty pleasures — and they are called as such because these fats could put us at risk. As they say, moderation is key.

But before we dismiss all fats as bad, it is good to know that there are different fats that serve their purpose — some even vital in our body's daily functions.

Dr. Mari-Ann Bringas, chair of chemistry and bio-nutrition at the Far Eastern University-NMRF and executive board officer at the Philippine Association of Academic biochemists, lists the basic kinds and functions of fats.

Kinds of fats

Saturated: If it comes from animals, for sure there is cholesterol because the body is capable of making its own cholesterol and it doesn't need an excess of it.

Unsaturated: A bit healthier. It only becomes a problem when it goes through heat or is cooked because the double bounds or degrees of saturation can be destroyed and it can lead to free radical formation, which can cause cancer. So what to do with good, unsaturated fat? Keep it fresh as possible such as in salads.

Trans fat/hydrogenated fats: These are bad fats that come from polyunsaturated fats from plants. If the oil comes from plants, they easily spoil. It gets rancid easily. So what do manufacturers do? They process the polyunsaturated fat and add hydrogen into it so they can prolong the shelf life. In effect, it becomes transfat. When you hear transfat, processed fats, hydrogenated fats, it's one and the same. These are bad fats.

Out of all these, saturated fats and trans fats are commonly seen as bad. Dr. Bringas, however, pointed out: "I would like to stress that your trans fat may be really bad but your saturated is not absolutely bad. In your 100 percent diet, at least 10 or 15 percent should be coming from saturated fats but it should come from two sources -- your vegetable and animal fats."

She also gave a tip for all lovers of the Filipino-style peanut butter. "We sometimes throw the oil on top but we don't know it is equivalent to olive oil. Instead of scooping it out, mix it with the peanut butter."

Functions of fat

1. It is an efficient and sustainable energy source.

"It's the most dense of energy vs other macronutrients like carbs and proteins. Fats have the largest amount of energy, giving you nine-kilo calories oer gram, unlike your carbs and proteins at four-kilo calories per gram," she started during her panel with the press at the recent virtual press conference by GrowRich, maker of the country's first pantented, Food and Drug Administration-approved virgin coconut oil hard gel capsules.

2. It carries fat-soluble vitamins.

"From the word itself, it cannot be assimilated into the body without taking in a high-fat diet. This is your Vitamin A for your eyes, Vitamin D for calcium absorption, Vitamin E, which is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants and Vit K for blood-clotting functions. So we need this for absorption," said Dr. Bringas.

3. It regulates inflammation and some other aspects of immune system function.

"All your cells are enveloped with fats. We call it the bilipid layer and these fats, eventually, if you're infected with something or you have a traumatic stress, these fats will turn into anti-inflammatory intermediate. These fats act as shield to injury. This is the body's way of protection from injury from further damage."

4. Fats maintain optimal cell health.

She explained that cells are surrounded by lipids that make the cell strong in form. "The structure will not disintegrate and parts of the cell will not go out."

She stressed, "These are basic functions of fats that we take granted but are very helpful." — Video from GrowRich, edited by Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

HEALTHY FATS UNHEALTHY FATS
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