People usually believe that having fats leads to an unhealthy diet. However, despite what popular dieting fads will tell you, fats are an important nutrient, and small amounts of it are necessary for optimum health.
Fats are a major source of energy. 1 gram of fat can be turned into 37 kilo joules (9 cal), of energy, which is double the amount which can be derived from 1 gram of protein or carbohydrates. Fats also provide an excellent source of vitamins like A, D, E, and K; and contains essential acids that are vital in the creation of cell membranes and nerve tissue.
Fat is made up of many types of acids. It's important to know what they are, because the various types have different impacts on your health. For example, alpha linolenic and linoleic acids are called the Essential Acids, and are crucial to proper body function. They can be found in oily fish, such as salmon or tuna, in fish oil supplements and also in meat and egg sources.
Unsaturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated acids are generally considered to be healthy as well, although a sub-category of polyunsaturated acids, trans polyunsaturated acids, have been a cause of concern for nutritionists in recent years because it has been discovered to be instrumental in the clogging of arteries. Trans acids can be found in margarines, or other vegetable based solids. Lastly, at the other end of the spectrum, a high intake of saturated acids has been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease.
For this reason, it's important to remember that although this nutrient is a vital part of a healthy diet, an excess of it can have the opposite effect. Too high an intake of any of these acids can provide high quantities of energy, which, if not used, will be stored in the body and lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. It's recommended that this nutrient provide no more than 35% of the energy you get from food everyday.