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Healthy and unhealthy fats/lipids

Lebensmittel-mit-gesunden-Fettsaeuren

We are often asked about the amount of fat in our bars and the topic of saturated vs. unsaturated fatty acids. Therefore, we would like to provide some background information on this topic.

As the name suggests, all foodloose nut bars contain nuts. Nuts naturally have a high percentage of fat and therefore also determine the amount of fat in our bars. However, the fats in our bars are not unhealthy, but have many positive effects.

What are lipids?

In addition to carbohydrates and proteins, lipids are important components of our nutrition. They are often said to make you obese and even sick. But humans need fats to survive, because they fulfil essential functions in the human body:

  • Energy supply
  • Building material for cell walls (membranes)
  • Protection against external impacts (thermal insulation)
  • Stabilization of the blood sugar level
  • Saturation function

Fats are also carriers of flavours and aromas, which is why fat-containing foods usually taste particularly good. Furthermore, the body is only able to absorb the vitamins A, D, E and K with fats as a supplement, since they are fat-soluble. It requires the so-called essential fatty acids for vital physiological processes. People therefore need to consume enough fat through their diet. However, the consumption of too much fat is not healthy either, because at 9 kcal per gram fat has more than twice the energy density of carbohydrates and proteins. They have a calorific value of about 4 kilocalories per gram.

How much fat is healthy?

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a lipid proportion of 30 to 35 percent in our nutrition. Depending on weight and physical activity, this equals between 60 and 100 grams of fat per day. If larger amounts of fat are consumed over time and only a low number of calories are burned at the same time, overweight and associated diseases such as high blood pressure or arteriosclerosis can be the consequences. However, overweight and secondary diseases do not only result from excessive fat consumption. People with overweight do not necessarily eat more fat than skinny people. In most cases, overeating (including carbohydrates and proteins) is the cause for overweight, obesity and resulting diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.

What types of fat are there?

Not all fats are the same. In principle, three groups can be subdivided according to their composition:

  • saturated fatty acids
  • monounsaturated fatty acids
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids

Saturated fatty acids

are considered to be unhealthy when consumed in large quantities. They enhance the taste of food but also have an appetite-enhancing effect. Certain saturated fatty acids can increase the cholesterol level in our blood which could lead to narrowing of blood vessels. The probability of developing cardiovascular diseases, dementia and diabetes can be increased. Saturated fat occurs mainly in animal products such as butter, cream, sausage, cheese and meat. Nevertheless, the nervous system needs saturated fatty acids as messenger substances. In moderate amounts, butter, whole milk and high-fat cheese can therefore support essential functions of the body.

Unsaturated Fatty Acids

are healthier than saturated fatty acids. They also have to be taken in via food and can be found, for example, in nuts and vegetable oils. They are required to build essential substances in the body which are important, for example, in inflammatory processes and the regulation of blood coagulation. In addition, unsaturated fatty acids reduce the cholesterol level of the blood. Since foodloose nut bars consist mainly of nuts and dried fruits, the proportion of unsaturated fats in the total amount of fat is often above 85%. A comparison with other foods shows that this is a high value:

Percentage of total amount of fat

Saturated fatty acids

Unsaturated fatty acids

Butter

73 %

27 %

Avocado

13 %

87 %

Olive oil

14 %

86 %

Salmon

23 %

77 %

foodloose Poesie Amelie

9 %

91 %

 

A further distinction is made between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids:

Monounsaturated fatty acids

are contained e.g. in nuts. Because of monounsaturated fatty acids, the body can process vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins accelerate wound healing and benefit teeth and bones. Monounsaturated fatty acids should therefore be a regular component of our diet.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

can be found e.g. in vegetable oils and fish. They are an important building material for cell walls, ensure a balanced cholesterol level, are involved in controlling blood pressure and regulating inflammation. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are important subgroups of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Their ratio is crucial: DGE recommends a ratio of 5:1 (omega-6 to omega-3). Omega-6 fatty acids should only be consumed in moderation, as they typically predominate in our diet in Germany anyway (they are contained in animal fats and sunflower oil, for example). To increase the proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, we recommend cooking with rapeseed oil, for example. Linseed also contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids.

Avoid trans fats

Trans fats are unhealthy for the human body. They are produced during industrial processing and hardening of fats and oils. Trans fats can be found, for example, in margarine, ready-made products, sweets, chips and fried food. These products have a negative effect on the blood lipometabolism and can increase the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Tips for the consumption of fats

  • Do not consume more than 70 to 80 grams of fat per day.
  • Cook low-fat and prefer lean meats, avoid fatty meat and ready-made products. Watch out for hidden fats, which can be found in sausages, cheese and sauces, for example.
  • Steam food instead of frying it and use visible fats such as butter or oils sparingly.
  • Low-fat meals should be refined with a small amount of vegetable oil shortly before consumption, instead of adding a lot of fat during preparation.
  • Choose low-fat alternatives such as yoghurt, quark or sour cream instead of mayonnaise.
  • Rule of thumb: The more liquid the fat, the higher the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Ensure sufficient exercise and a high intake of fibre.

 

Photo credit: © julijadmi / Fotolia

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