NUTRITION 102 - Good Fats VS. Bad Fats

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TRIGLYCERIDES - What are they? What is their function? What are the effects if they are in excess or in deficit?

LIPOPROTEINS - Fat-protein molecules: LDL; VLDL; and HDL.

CHOLESTEROL - Source? Functions? Problems with too much?

TRIGLYCERIDES include ordinary fats and oils. The principal dietary source of fats (of which 95% are "fatty acids") are butter, margarine, lard, vegetable oil, salad dressing, the visible fat of meat, chicken skin, the invisible fat of: cream, milk and milk products, egg yolk, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados and whole grain cereals.

Let us focus in on the fat, there are "good fats" and "bad fats", that is that some kinds of fat (also called lipids) have different effects on the arteries. Of the three sources of energy: protein, carbohydrates and fats, fats contain more calories per gram.

           FAT =9 calories per gram
CARBOHYDRATES =4 calories per gram
       PROTEIN =4 calories per gram
     (ALCOHOL) =7 calories per gram

TRIGLYCERIDES, as we said, contain 95% fatty acids, basically what is identified as every day fat. Fatty acids are further divided into two groups: 1. Saturated and 2. Unsaturated lie: saturated or unsaturated with hydrogen bonds]. Saturated fat comes from animal sources and is characterized as white and hard while at room temperature. While the main source of unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat is from plants. In contrast to the hard animal fat, the vegetable "fat" is thought of as a oil at room temperature.

There are three types of these "good" unsaturated fats, which are ESSENTIAL FATS, {essential fats have important roles in fat transport and metabolism and in maintaining the function and integrity of cellular membranes, and are the building blocks of hormone like substances which control blood pressure, heart rate, vascular dilation, blood clotting and the central nervous system} .... anyway, getting back to the 3 EFA (essential fatty acids) which are : linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids.

The essential fats have been shown to lower serum (blood concentration) cholesterol. Also unsaturated fats have been shown to be more effective in lowering cholesterol than lowering the dietary intake of cholesterol.

LIPOPROTEINS are fat-protein molecules, specifically:
                 LDL - Low Density Lipoproteins
                VLDL - Very Low Density Lipoproteins
                 HDL - High Density Lipoproteins

These fat-protein molecules are produced mainly in the liver and some in the intestine. Their functions include: The make up of cell membranes throughout the body and blood, their function is to transport fats. LDL is the result of the break down of VLDL. They carry 2/3 of the total blood cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL parallels the increased risk of heart disease. HDL, the carrier of cholesterol from body cells, including those of the arterial walls to the liver. Increased blood levels of HDL lowers the risk of coronary heart disease.


Cholesterol is only found in animal tissues. But before we lynch this so-called bad guy, let's look at the reasons we even have cholesterol. Cholesterol, is classified within the alcohol family, as seen by the "o1" ending. It is also closely associated with some forms of fatty acids, (fats). It is an essential structural part of all cell membranes and a major component of brain and nerve cells. Cholesterol is made and stored in the liver. It is a key material needed to produce a number of important steroids such as:

         Bile Acids  - Break down fats in digestion.
         Adrenal hormones - Effecting energy use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. 
        Control of water and electrolyte balance.
        Sex - Estrogens, progesterone, testosterone.
        Vitamin D - Important for bone and teeth growth.
        Skin - Makes the skin resistant to chemical agents and to the absorption of water soluble substances, helps resist water evaporation through skin.

Your body makes and is very efficient at recycling cholesterol for all these important functions. The media has made up aware of the danger of increased blood serum levels of cholesterol. That is, the increased risk of coronary heart disease (hardening of the arteries). Athero-sclerosis is the medical term for this condition. The deposit of cholesterol containing crystals within the walls of arteries impairs blood flow, causes loss of elasticity, which produces high blood pressure (i.e.: the heart has to work harder). This is the usual underlying cause of heart attacks.

Dietary Fiber such as pectin, guar gum, bran oats, and soy beans have been proven to lower serum cholesterol levels. Leafy and root vegetables, and garlic also have studies supporting them as cholesterol lowering foods. The recommended level of serum cholesterol is: less than 200mg/dl. One guideline for measuring coronary heart disease risk is the cholesterol/HDL ratio.



Heart  - 77milligrams
Liver  - 122mg.
Kidney - 225mg.
Brains - 560mg.


          small - 192mg. med. - 222mg.
          large - 252mg.
          Yolk (100mg)- 1,480mg.

Source: Food, Nutrition And Diet Therapy. 7th edition, Krauae & Mahan.

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