The very word has negative connotations, but there’s more to fat than you might think…
1 We all need fat
It has a pretty bad reputation, but the truth is, we all need a certain amount of fat to keep the body functioning properly. Its main purpose is to store excess calories so they can be turned into energy. As part of this process, fat also releases the hormones that control our metabolism. In addition, fat helps the body absorb the essential vitamins A, D, E and K.
2 It makes skin glow
Healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat. In particular, getting more of the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils has been found to be very beneficial for people with dry skin and eczema.
3 Carrying too much excess fat is bad news
Excess body fat is linked to serious illnesses from diabetes to heart disease. The sort of diet that encourages excess fat in our bodies is simply one in which we take in more calories than we need in any form, not just from fatty foods. Excess fat isn’t burnt off as energy and so ends up being stored by the body. This leads to hyperlipidaemia raised levels of fat circulating the blood. From here, it’s deposited in the form of fatty plaques in the blood vessels, which causes them to narrow and harden, and leads to a higher risk of angina and heart attack.
Expert: Dr Alan Rees, a consultant specialising in diabetes and clinical lipidology at the University Hospital of Wales and Cardiff. Dr Rees is also a trustee for the charity Heart UK (www.heartuk.org.uk)
Complied by Caroline Jones
*For more on fat, get the latest issue of Healthy in all Holland & Barrett Stores!