lipid nutrition

Fats, what you need to know if you want to understand what they are, what is the chemical structure of lipids , how they work and how they affect our body composition. A first article to shed light on key aspects to know about lipids.

By now more than 40 years ago American nutritionists, aware of the widespread epidemic of overweight and obesity, gave the guideline to eat less fat and replace them with carbohydrates. Since then the fat people have continued to increase, the nation that leads the world is becoming a country of lardosis, in the face of food claims.

  • What went wrong? Among the many diseases of well-being, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes are emerging among the most widespread, even in this case a current dieticians, to fight them, advised not to eat meat.
  • Are we making another mistake?  Where is the truth, what does meat with diabetes mean? I anticipate that we will not find out in this article, first we must start from the ABC.

What we must now begin to understand are mainly three points:

  1. the body learns to use well what we give it. A carbohydrate- rich diet increases affinity with glucose, a diet rich in lipids increases lipid metabolism.
  2. in the short term if we starve the body of sugars, it will improve its insulin sensitivity , but what works in the short term (2-3 months) is reversed in the chronic.
  3. it is the energetic excess that worsens the body’s metabolic capacity. That we eat lots of carbohydrates or lots of fats does not change much. The excess leads to the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates to “engulf”, leading to insulin resistance . As long as we eat to cover our needs (or slightly less), the organism is efficient regardless of the main macronutrient we supply.

What are lipids

chemical lipids of foods

The fats also defined lipids, are a macronutrient with a predominantly energy function and in part plastic (cellular membranes, glial cells ), regulate the production of steroid hormones and have yet other functions (construction of phospholipids and glycolipids , etc.). They average 9kcal per gram and are the most caloric nutrient. This is due to the fact that in their chemical composition they have few oxygen atoms, they are “dehydrated” molecules, which makes their energy / weight ratio very high.

In diets, their moderate intake is often recommended, they are often associated with cardiovascular risks, an increase in cholesterol and overweight.
The introduction of particular saturated fats (we will see later which ones), brings insulin resistance and increases the inflammatory response of the organism. Other fatty acids, omega 3 (specifically EPA and DHA) have instead an anti-inflammatory action .

The lipid composition is given by the binding of glycerol with fatty acids (up to 3: triglyceride).
The body uses this macronutrient mainly as an energy reserve, storing it in adipocytes, however its importance is fundamental for the construction of cell membranes and for a correct synthesis and production of hormones . A 70kg man has an average of 100,000 kcal stored as fat reserves, enough to live several months without eating.

Classification of lipids

Fats are not all the same, are divided into: saturated fats , monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats , through the industrial processing we can also get hydrogenated fats . The difference lies in their chemical structure. Below we report a table with the most common fatty acids. Be careful that ALL fatty acids are often found in foods. In olive oil we also find saturated fatty acids (in low%), as in oleic products oleic acid is present. It is always a matter of major or minor%.

types of fatty acids

Saturated fats

The saturates have all the double carbon bonds occupied and can not bind with other hydrogen atoms. This brings their structure to be linear, which leads them to be solid at room temperature. They have a high melting point which makes them less degradable by high temperatures but also less digestible. Saturated fats are not all the same, some have a negative effect on our body, others are neutral.

4: 0 Butyric acid Milk and derivatives (fats)
5: 0 Valeric acid Some roots
6: 0 Caproic acid Milk and derivatives (fats)
7: 0 Enantiic acid Lives
8: 0 Caprylic acid Milk and derivatives (fats) and coconut.
9: 0 Pelargonic acid Geranium
10: 0 Capric acid Animal fats and some vegetable fats
12: 0 Lauric acid Animal fats and some vegetable fats
14: 0 Myristic acid Animal fats and some vegetable fats
16: 0 Palmitic acid Animal fats and some vegetable fats
17: 0 Margaric acid Animal fats and some vegetable fats
18: 0 Stearic acid Animal fats and some vegetable fats
20: 0 Arachic acid Animal fats and some vegetable seeds
22: 0 Heroic acid Animal fats and some vegetable seeds
24: 0 Lignoceric acid Some vegetable fats

* The rarest fatty acids are not indicated


Monounsaturated fats

The monounsaturated fats have one or more double free bonds, this allows it to be biologically active, allowing it to bind with other substances of the body, their structure is curvilinear and present liquids. Generally they have a better effect on our body, compared to saturated fats.

16: 1 sapienic acid Human sebum
16: 1 palmitoleic acid Milk fats, vegetable fats, fish oils
17: 1 eptadecenoic acid Milk fats, vegetable fats, fish oils
18: 1 oleic acid Olive oil, present in all sources of natural fats
18: 1 elaidinic acid Present in ruminant animals
20: 1 gadoleic acid Rapeseed oil
20: 1 gondoic acid Fish oils
22: 1 cetoleic acid Fish oils
22: 1 erucic acid Rapeseed oil

* The rarest fatty acids are not indicated

Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats compared to monounsaturates have a much more unstable structure and tend to oxidize easily. Their conservation must be very accurate, their melting point is the lowest among fats which makes them on the one hand thermosensitive from the other much more digestible. While omega 3 generally has an anti-inflammatory action, the family of omega 6 tends, if in excess, to lead to inflammatory reactions in the body.

18: 2 linoleic acid Sunflower oil
18: 3 α-linolenic acid Fish oils, fish and vegetable fats
18: 4 stearidonic acid Hemp seeds
20: 4 arachidonic acid Animal fats, fish oils
20: 5 timnodonic acid Fish oils
22: 5 clupanodonic acid Fish oils
22: 6 cervonico acid Fish oils

* The rarest fatty acids are not indicated

In the omega 3 family we must pay special attention to friends EPA and DHA who have the bioactive function in the human being. On the contrary, omega 3 ALA (flax seeds) do not have the specific enzyme in order to be properly exploited by our organism.

Dietary advice on lipids

Hamburgers rich in lipids

At the muscle level there is a certain competition between the use of glucose and fatty acids. When one of the two increases the other decreases. This parameter is of fundamental importance when deciding the percentage of lipids to be introduced into the diet .

  • A line of thought tends to reduce as much as possible 10-20% of the caloric intake, this increases the body’s ability to burn glucose and improves its tolerance (of course it is not necessary to exceed). The minimum amount of lipids per day is 30-35g and are used to transport the fat-soluble vitamins (in women it is advisable not to go below 40-60g).
  • Another strand instead tends to increase the share to 30-35%, a greater amount of fat increases the body’s ability to oxidize them by improving beta-oxidation, however the more the body metabolizes fats and the more it reduces its sensitivity to carbohydrates.
  • Finally we find low carb or ketogenic diets , which prefer fats as a food source.

In principle, the person will be active and will perform glycolytic sports, plus the% of fats can be reduced, as the body will need a good amount of sugar. Instead, the more people are sedentary, or are engaged in purely aerobic activities (marathon) or a few seconds (lifting weights) plus% fat can be consistent.

Finally remember that the fundamental factor for health, before the macronutrients is the right energy balance, if excessively chronically always hurts, regardless of what you eat.

What are the most fatty foods

Finally we see a list of foods with more lipids that we can find:

FOOD Grease g Food Grease g Food Grease g
Oils (of all types) 100 Coconut flour 64 Mascarpone cheese 47
Lard 100 Hazelnuts 60-62 Pistachios 45
Lard 99 Greaves 61 Pancetta 45
Butter 81 Egg (yolk) 55 Cashew nuts 43
Margarine 80 Sausage 50-57 Puff pastry 38
mayonnaise 78 Bitter chocolate 52 Chips chips 36
Nuts (different types) 71-75 almonds 52 nutmeg 36
Pork cheek 69 Peanut butter 50 Mortadella 35
Pine nuts 68 Sesame 49 Cream 35

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