Fat

There are two types of fat – saturated fat and unsaturated fat.

Unsaturated fat can be either monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat.

Functions

The body needs fat for a number of reasons:

  • for energy – 1g of fat gives the body 9kcal of energy
  • to protect the vital organs
  • to provide an insulating layer which helps the body to maintain a constant temperature
  • fat is a source of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • fat is an excellent source of the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6

Saturated and unsaturated fat – what's the difference?

Unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature, for example rape seed oil or olive oil.

Unsaturated fats come from plant sources and therefore are better for us than saturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats have one double bond ('mono' meaning one)

Polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond ('poly' meaning many)

Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature, for example butter.

Saturated fats come from animal sources and therefore tend to be very unhealthy.

Sources

We can get saturated fat from the following sources:

  • red meat – for example, steak and minced beef
  • dairy products – for example, butter and milk
Red meat being cooked

We can get unsaturated fat from the following sources:

  • polyunsaturated fat is in margarine, vegetable oil and oily fish (e.g., mackerel)
  • monounsaturated fat is in nuts, nut oil, avocado, olives and olive oil
Margarine
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