The complete guide to lipids
Often referred to as “fats”, lipids have a bad reputation because they are thought to be responsible for weight gain, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Nevertheless, these macronutrients are actually essential for your body and serve to provide energy for the proper functioning of nerve fibres and hormones.
So, what are lipids? Should we really limit our consumption of them? And what are the best ones to have?
Lipids: what are they?
Lipids have a diverse range of roles. They fall into one of three categories; storage lipids, structural lipids and functional lipids.
Storage lipids are an adipose tissue and are mainly stored as triglycerides. They act as the main energy reserve within the body.
Adipose tissue plays an important role in regulating the body’s core temperature.
Did you know?
Triglycerides are fatty acids that are synthesised by the liver and intestines. They can also come from the consumption of certain foods. If there are too many triglycerides within the blood then there is a risk of cardiovascular problems.
Structural lipids make up the cell membranes and maintain their integrity to ensure intro-cellular exchanges.
Function lipids can be the vectors of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) that enable their absorption and transport within the body. In addition to participating in the prevention of many pathologies (cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancers), they play an important role in the production of molecules, such as hormones, that are essential to the proper functioning of the body.
The metabolism of dietary lipids begins with their digestion and intestinal absorption. The lipid nutrients will be cut into smaller molecules by an enzyme that will release fatty acids that are then absorbed by the liver.
The majority of circulating fatty acids are absorbed by body fat and stored as triglycerides in adipose tissue. These act an important energy reserve and are easy to use.
Good or bad fats?
Consuming fatty acids is vital in ensuring that your body remains fit and healthy. Nevertheless, some dietary sources are better than others.
Saturated fatty acids.
Saturated fatty acids are naturally produced by the liver, brain and adipose tissue but are also provided through the foods we consume.
Saturated fatty acids are found in large quantities in butter, cream, sausages, dairy products, cheese and meat, as well as palm and coconut oils.
Saturated fatty acids can be grouped into three categories according to their length: short, medium and long chains.
Short and medium chain fatty acids will have a preventive role in the development of colon cancer. They are non-hypercholesterolemic, meaning that they do not increase cholesterol levels and are not associated with cardiovascular disease. They are present in products such as butter and cheese.
Long-chain saturated fatty acids are the major components of the myelin sheath (the membrane covering neurons) in the brain and nervous system. In excess, long-chain saturated fatty acids exhibit atherogenic (contributing to the formation of lipid plaques in the arteries) and thrombogenic (contributing to clot formation) effects, and help lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
Unsaturated fatty acids.
There are two types of unsaturated fatty acids: monounsaturates and polyunsaturates.
Monounsaturated fatty acids
Monounsaturated fatty acids, also known as omega 9 (oleic acid) are synthesised by the body and are also included in the composition of triglycerides. They play a preventive role in the onset of cardiovascular disease.
They are mainly found in olive oil, avocado and oilseeds (almonds and walnuts), but can also be present in some animal products such as duck fat.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are so-called “essential” fatty acids because the body cannot synthesise them itself, therefore their presence relies on them being consumed through the foods we eat.
There are two types; omega 3 and omega 6.
1. Omega 3.
Omega 3has many uses. It acts as a hypertriglyceridemic (triglyceride-lowering) fatty acid, an anti-inflammatory drug, helps increase HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) while also improving vision and participating in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.
There are 3:
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): it is found in linseed oil, rapeseed oil and walnuts. This acid is the precursor of EPA and DHA. Based on an average energy consumption of 2000kcal, it is not recommended that you consume more than 2.2g of alpha-linolenic acid.
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): this acid is an anti-inflammatory that helps protect the arteries and heart. It also limits bone demineralisation. The recommended dietary allowance for this acid is 250mg per day.
- docosahexaenoic acid 9DHA): it is the primary fatty acid present in the membranes of neurons. It plays a fundamental role in the development of the brain and maintaining good vision. Just like EPA; DHA plays a role in protecting the heart. The recommended dietary allowance for this acid is 250mg per day.
Flaxseed and hemp seeds, nuts and oils derived from them as well as oily fish, are particularly rich in omega 3. Omega 3 helps protect the cardiovascular system. DHA and EPA are mainly present in oily fish such as herring, mackerel or sardines.
2. Omega 6.
Omega 6 or linoleic acid is hypertriglyceridemic, and helps maintain the epidermis, our immune system and promotes optimal reproductive function. If you have too much of it, it can cause inflammation and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
The omega 6 found in corn, soybean and sunflower oils are also considered “good fats”. However, should they be consumed in excess, they prevent the optimal use of omega 3.
There’s an increasing trend regarding the excessive consumption of omega in people’s diets. However, the balance of the ratio of omega 6/omega 3 is an important element in ensuring the proper functioning of the body. In this context, the omega6/omega 3 ratio should be between 4 and 10 with the ideal amount being 5.
If the recommended daily intake of omega 3 is 2.7g per day, the ratio should ideally be 5. It is recommended that you consume roughly 13.5g of omega 6 per day.
At Feed., we use high-quality lipid sources such as rapeseed and sunflower oils, almonds and yellow flaxseeds.
It is important not to discriminate against certain food types. All have a part to play in ensuring that your body remains as healthy as possible. Just because a food has a certain amount of fat content, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad for you.
How much fat do you need?
ANSES recommends a daily lipid intake of between 35-40% of your recommended daily energy amount (RDA). These recommendations place a strong emphasis on the quality and not the quantity of fat.
The RDA for each type of fatty acid is based on a recommended energy intake of 2000kcal.
- Saturated fatty acids: <8% of the RDA or 22g
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: 20% of the RDA equals 44g
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids including:
–> Omega 6: 10% of the RDA equals 22g
–> Omega 3: 2% of the RDA equals 4.4g
–> ALA: 1% of the RDA equivalent to 2.2g
–> DHA & EPA: 0.12% of the RDA equivalent to 250mg each
Which fatty acids should be kept to a minimum?
It is recommended that you include only small amount of trans fatty acids in your diet. They increase the LDL cholesterol content (bad cholesterol) and accelerate the process of transferring the cholesterol to your arteries.
In other words, these are harmful fatty acids that you should look to avoid as much as possible.
Trans fatty acids are obtained by cooking oils at too high a temperature, during the production of refined oils or during a hydrogenation process used within the food industry in order to use fat up.
In this day and age, food brands are required to indicate the presence and amount of trans fatty acids in each product.
You will never find any trans fatty acids in Feed. meals.
Le saviez-vous ?
In Feed. meals, you will not find any trans fatty acids.
To sum upTo sum up
By now, you all know about lipids.