How much of fat, fibre and cholesterol do you need?
- 12 Months ago
Fat fibre and cholesterol are probably the most used words in the language of urban health and nutritional science for several decades, their importance and more so their reputation (good or bad) has been discussed and debated I plenty in the best two decades. Fat and cholesterol have even managed to create fear in the health-conscious people.
Here's what many want to know about fat, fibre and cholesterol:
• Provides essential fatty acids
• Carries fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K
• Satiates hunger to some extent
• Provides protective cushion to vital organs to help prevent injury
• Insulates body from heat loss and extreme temperature changes
• Provides energy from body stores in times of need
• Moves bowels
• Prevents colon cancer
• Helps control weight by providing satiety for less number of calories than fat
• Reduces absorption of cholesterol
• Helps control blood pressure and blood sugar
• Keeps the cell membranes intact
• Forms an important component of the nervous system
• Helps in synthesis of bile acids which are required for digestion.
The requirements of these components vary from pediatric stage to geriatric stage, and in wellness and illness.
Requirements for healthy individuals:
Fat: A normal, healthy child from 1-18 years of age needs 25grams of visible fat per day. This would mean a combination of ghee or butter and oil that is used in cooking. A healthy adult above 18 years of age is allowed 20 grams (about four teaspoons) of visible fat per day. Senior citizens with no health problems are allowed the same quantity of visible fat on a daily basis. The requirement of fat for people with special needs as in sports or pregnancy would increase based on individual needs.
Dietary fibre: there is no fixed requirement of fiber for children. However, children need much less fibre than adults do. As long as their vegetable, fruit and grain intake is within normal limits, their fiber requirement will be met. The requirement of fibre in a healthy adult is 30 to 35 grams per day. A senior citizen with no digestive issues can continue to eat 25 to 30 grams of fibre per day. Dietary fibre is present in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, legumes and grains, and absent in animal foods, oils and sugar.
Cholesterol: Cholesterol is present only in animal foods. There is no specified requirement for cholesterol through daily foods. Healthy professionals in the western countries do not recommend more than 300mg of cholesterol per person per day. However, we don't want to copy the western diets because we are genetically different and our dietary habits vary to suit the climate and foods available locally.
Upper limits for each of these food components in our diet mean that excesses can be harmful.
Fats in excess lead to:
• Excess weight because they give the highest number of calories per gram
• Red blood cells clump together and reduce oxygen carrying capacity
• Hindering digestion of other nutrients
• Increasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels
• Tumour formation
• Development of type 2 diabetes
Fiber in excess leads to:
• Loose motions
• Decreased absorption of important micronutrients in the gut
Cholesterol in excess leads to:
• Lining of the inner surface of the arteries along with other particles, and decreases in the lumen of the arteries
• Narrowing of the arteries can cause damage to any Part of the body depending on where the artery supplies blood to - for example, a coronary artery narrowing increases the risk of a heart attack and carotid artery narrowing increases the chances of stroke
• Gall bladder stones