Oil is Good for You
Why Do We Need Oil/Fat in Our Diet?
Why Do We Need Oil/Fat in Our Diet?
Many people have a perception that oil or fat is unhealthy and should be minimised or avoided in our daily meals. Do you know that this mindset is completely wrong? Good fat is an essential part of a balanced and healthy diet. It plays a vital role in keeping our bodies functioning smoothly and optimally. You need good fat daily to support these functions:
Every living cell needs energy to carry out life’s processes, such as breaking down and building up molecules and transporting molecules across cell membranes. Fat is a good source of energy. Each gram of fat supplies the body with energy that is more than twice of that supplied by carbohydrate or protein. Fat should make up about 25-30% of our total energy intake.
Build Healthy Cells
Fat is needed to build cell membrane, an lining that encapsulates the cell. The cell membrane has 2 functions:
- Acts as a barrier to keep the constituents of the cell in and unwanted substances out.
- Acts as a gate to allow transport of essential nutrients into the cell and removal of waste products from the cell.
Without a healthy cell membrane, the rest of the cell cannot function.
Build the Brain
Around 60% of our brain is made up of fat. In addition to forming part of the brain structure, fat also provides fuel and plays a role in supporting memory, learning and other cognitive functions. Deficiency of good fat may cause cognitive dysfunction, including poor memory and learning disabilities.
Maintain Body Temperature
Fat insulates the body and keeps us warm. Hence, it helps to maintain a normal body temperature. If the body temperature falls below normal, a person may experience cold hands and feet, shivering, tiredness, drowsiness, confusion, stiff muscles, slow breathing and heartbeat, etc. If the body temperature stays low for more than a few hours, the organs could be critically damaged and may lead to death.
Protect Vital Organs
Many vital organs, especially the kidneys, heart and intestines are protected by fat that helps to cushion them from injury and hold them in place. Without fat, the organs are more prone to damage.
Provide Essential Nutrients for Our Body
Omega-3s and omega-6s are essential fatty acids required to maintain good health. The body is unable to make these fatty acids on its own and has to obtain them from dietary sources like vegetable oils, for example, camelina oil and flaxseed oil.
Help the Body Use Vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins. In other words, dietary fat is required to help the intestines absorb these vitamins into the body. Inadequate fat intake can hinder the proper absorption of these vital vitamins, which serve the following functions:
- Vitamin A – Supports healthy vision, immune function, body & hair growth and maintain fertility
- Vitamin D – Maintains healthy bones and strengthen immune system
- Vitamin E – Serves as an antioxidant to protect cells against free radicals & oxidative damage
- Vitamin K – Supports blood clotting and bone health
Produce Important Hormones
Hormones are made from fat and cholesterol. Without good fat, hormone production would suffer. Without good cholesterol, our body is not able to produce certain sex hormones, like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. Our body needs good dietary fat to produce the good cholesterol. This is why some teenage girls who are too lean experience delayed pubertal development and menstruation.
Support Healthy Skin
Good fat, particularly omega-3s help slow down the ageing process and restore moisture to dry skin. Omega-3s also help to reduce inflammation underneath the skin’s surface, this speeds up the healing process and reduces the severity of acne. Low fat diet may result in wrinkled, dry and flaky skin.
Signs of inadequate fat intake include:
As mentioned earlier, we should include good oils in our healthy diet. Do not reduce or eliminate oil as our body need them! Bear in mind that not all cooking oils on the supermarket shelves are equally good. Some types of oils are better for you than others. Consuming good oil promotes good health, while taking bad oil will increase your risk of diseases. Cooking oil consists of different types of fatty acids, including saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. You should choose oils that are high in monounsaturated (omega-9s) and polyunsaturated (omega-3s, omega-6s) fats, especially omega-3s which cannot be produced by our body and yet, commonly lacked of in almost 98% of people. Trans fats and partially hydrogenated oil should be avoided at all costs as they increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Please click here to learn more on how to choose a good cooking oil.