For nearly half a century, dietary fat and cholesterol have been in the limelight. Today, scientific knowledge of dietary fats and their relationships to health is known to be far more complex. The balance of the types of fats appears to be more important for our health than trying to eat low-fat. In fact, we still need certain fats to be healthy.
Fats are not created equal
All fats in foods are blends of fatty acids, some saturated, others not. Each fatty acid is composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Whether solid or liquid, fats are not soluble in water. These same elements are found in carbohydrates and proteins, just arranged differently.
Fats in foods are broken down during digestion, which releases fatty acids and glycerol in the body. When fat is stored in the body, it is in the form of triglyceride.
We can’t live without dietary fat. A fat-free diet is virtually impossible.
Various types of fat in foods have different health effects. Some may offer health protective benefits, which is a good a reason to consume enough unsaturated fats from foods such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. On the other hand, solid fats (saturated and trans fats) may increase health risks if overconsumed.
Roles of dietary fat in health:
1. Makes up part of body cells and hormones
2. For absorbing and transporting fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
3. For an infant’s brain, and eye development, for normal growth, and development for infants and children and for healthy skin for children and adults.
4. For heart health and more
5. For satiety (a little fat in foods adds more flavour)
6. Satisfies hunger by helping us feel full
How much fat is needed daily?
• The amount of dietary fat needed may differ among age groups and activities of the individual. It is usually between 20 to 25% of total calories.
• The best percentage of fat is the one that feels good for you, allows you to exercise and play sports with ease, eat appropriately, and enables you to have a good quality of life.
To assess or evaluate the child’ s needed calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, it is best to consult a registered Nutritionist- Dietitian.
1. Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark, MS, RD
Human Kinetics Publishing, USA, 2020
2. Complete Food & Nutrition Guide By: Roberta L. Duyff for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, USA, 2017.
About The Expert
NIEVES C. SERRA, Nutritionist-Dietitian
Ms. Nieves Serra, a registered Dietitian, took up AB major in Nutrition and minor in Home Culture in St. Scholastica’s College (SSC) Manila in 1960. After her graduation in 1964, she took up the ten months Dietetic Internship program at FEU Hospital. She was the only one in her batch at SSC who took the Board Exam, passed it and practiced in the country. She took up M.S. Foods and Nutrition and MBA without thesis from Philippine Women’s University, Manila.
Her career has been devoted to hospital work in the Dietary department of private and government hospitals for a span of 46 years, and 41 years teaching nursing, HRM and nutrition students. She was also a cafeteria concessionaire for 6 years in various industrial companies, a lecturer/speaker in seminars and conventions and a member of various associations such as PASOO, and PHILSPEN.
In 1992, she was awarded the Outstanding Nutritionist-Dietitian of the year by Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), and was a past president of Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines or NDAP (1988), NDAP Life member (2007 to 2011), and held various positions from 1966 to the present. She is married to her profession, a devout Catholic, and follows the Benedictine motto of her school, St. Scholastica’s College, “Ora et Labora, which means work and pray being a loyal Scholastican and a loyal NDAP member.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and do not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.