Fat is a class of food considered a macronutrient (along with carbohydrates and protein) that provides nutritional energy to the body. Fats are strands of naturally occurring fatty acids, involving collections of hydrocarbons and acids, that are in 1 chain, or 2 bonds.
There are two types of fat that are consumed as food, unsaturated (double bonded strands missing some hydrogen molecules) and saturated (strands saturated with hydrogen molecules) fats. Some examples of saturated fats are butter, milk from cows, coconut and palm oil, and meat. Persons ingesting diets high in saturated fat are said to have a higher incidence of heart disease. Unsaturated fats, or mono unsaturated fats, are said to be the best fats to consume as they have less of a negative affect on the cardio vascular system.
Fats are needed because they are a provider of essential fatty acids to the body. These acids are absorbed from foods and are necessary for the normal health of a person and the growth of children. Essential fatty acids contribute to appropriate cell function and help with the regulation of mood. Essential fatty acids fall into 2 categories, Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 6 essential fatty acids are obtained through eating green leafy vegetables and the oils of some plants such as sunflower, soy and corn. Fish such as Tuna, Trout, and Salmon are the biggest contributors to the Omega 3 fatty acids group.
Fat insulates the body's organs, helps to regulate and maintain body temperature, and is part of the structure of the brain and the body's cell membranes. Fat also is needed for healthy skin and hair, as well as storing energy for the body. Resulting chemicals used from the breakdown of fat in digestion are further converted by the liver to produce glucose and provide the body with energy. Fat also serves the body by aiding in the absorption and transportation of certain vitamins (A, E, K, and D).
It is said that fat consumption should be limited to 30% of the contributing calories in a person's diet. One gram of fat has 9 calories. A diet consisting of 2000 calories a day would involve 67 grams of fat.