Very many people do not realise the importance of fat as a component of human diet. The fact is that fat is vital to us human beings. Fat is necessary, among other things, to be able to absorb the so-called fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat is incredibly important to the immune response and the body's ability to produce vital hormones. For most people, fat should amount to about 30 % of the daily calorie intake. Fats are grouped in 3 main categories:
Due to its chemical composition, saturated fat is solid and only fluid when heated. A large content of saturated fat is found primarily in fat from animal meat, butter and dairy products. Saturated fat is the most stable fat at high temperatures, which makes for instance butter suitable for frying.
The chemical composition of monounsaturated fat makes it fluid at room temperature. A large content of monounsaturated fat is found in for instance olive oil, almond oil and avocados. Monounsaturated fat is not as stable as saturated fat, but for instance olive oil can be used for baking and frying at low temperatures.
Polyunsaturated fat is the most fluid fat we know of. A large content of polyunsaturated fat is found in for instance flax seed, sunflower seed and fat fish. Polyunsaturated fat is the main source of the vital fatty acids omega 3 and 6 that the body cannot generate by itself, and the best known source of the fatty acids is fat fish. The chemical stability of polyunsaturated fat is very low and the oils are therefore intolerant to heating in the form of frying and baking. The oils should always be kept cool, and they are appropriate in for instance dressings.
The healthy and vital fat
As stated above, some fatty acids are a vital nutrient for the human body because it cannot produce them by itself. Those fatty acids are called omega 3 and 6. Omega 3 is especially important to the brain, the nervous system and the body's cell membranes (the membrane surrounding the cell and protecting it). In its purest form, omega 3 is found in fat fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon and cod-liver oil. Some seeds and nuts such as flax seed are also rich in omega 3. Fatty omega 6 acids are found in meat, vegetables and plant oils such as sunflower oil.
Trans fatty acids are unsaturated, vegetable fats that have been artificially saturated through a so-called hydrogenating process. By heating oils under pressure and adding hydrogen, the fat is saturated, and the oil is hardened so that it is no longer fluid at room temperature. Those very unhealthy and even harmful oils are found in many foodstuffs in supermarkets and comprise for instance chips, biscuits, cakes, cones and waffles and food deep-fried in oil. When heated to high temperatures, the polyunsaturated and unstable oils will start developing trans fatty acids, so it is recommended that you be careful not to heat oil too much when frying. Only use oils with a high content of saturated and monounsaturated fat and a very low content of polyunsaturated fat, for instance olive oil. If you want to be on the safe side you can choose to use good old-fashioned butter or coconut oil that consists primarily of saturated fat. Pick your oils with care and buy only cold-pressed ones if you want to be sure that the oils have been treated gently during juicing.