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Why Do We Need Lipids in Our Bodies?

By Chris Chinn

Lipids, or fats, as they are more commonly known, play a vital role in a healthy functioning person. The USDA recommends between 20 percent to 35 percent of total calories consumed come from fat. There are three types of dietary fats: saturated fats, trans fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats, which come from meats and high-fat dairy products, tend to increase cholesterol levels. The food guide pyramid recommends less than 20 grams per day of saturated fats. Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oil, typically come from baked goods and commercially fried foods, and tend to increase cholesterol as well. It is also recommended to minimize the amount of trans fats consumed per day. Unsaturated fats, which come from oils, fatty fish and avocados, amongst other items, do not raise blood cholesterol. It is recommended that the majority of fats consumed come from unsaturated fats.

Energy

Fat is the highest concentration of energy the body can consume. Coming in at nine calories per gram, versus four calories per gram for both protein and carbohydrates, and seven calories per gram of alcohol. This energy concentration allows humans to consume less overall food to get a higher amount of calories.

Vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, meaning that, without fat, our bodies would be incapable of using these vitamins, which are used in a multitude of daily functions including cell growth and repair.

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Hormones and Enzymes

Fats are a large part of hormone and enzyme production. Without the use of hormones and enzymes everything from digestion of food to sexual reproduction would be disrupted or stopped.

Protection

Body fat provides cushioning for the organs, both from outside forces and from bouncing off one another and creating havoc in our systems.

Stored Energy

Stored fat allows humans the ability to continue functioning when food is no longer available for up to three weeks. This stored fat also allows women to become pregnant. Pregnancy requires a certain amount of fat from the mother, and if there is not enough, then a woman will lose her menstruation cycle. This prevents her from becoming pregnant and risking the health of both mother and child.

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