Learn about the vital roles that fats and fatty acids play in our bodies.
Fats have vital roles in our bodies. They store energy, are a vital part of our cell membranes, provide insulation for tissues, cushion many of our organs, and carry vitamins around in our blood. Plus they are important for helping us get other nutrients that we need from our diet. Not to mention they are so useful for cooking, by adding lots of flavour, and improving the texture of our foods.1 People might have some concerns about fats, which largely stems from our association with fats and weight gain. Fats can contribute to weight gain because of their their energy storing abilities. When you compare fats with proteins and carbohydrates, fats store a lot more energy, containing double the number of calories.2
Fatty acids are what you get when fats are broken down, because fats are made up of glycerol plus fatty acids. There are many different types of fats, made from many different types of fatty acids, and many different roles for these in our bodies. Learn more about the types of fatty acids.
That’s because the human body can produce all the fatty acids it needs (some more easily than others) – except for two! So these two, which also can’t be stored for long, are essential fatty acids that we need to get regularly through our diet. Specifically, these are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). They are:
The two Omega-3 fatty acids that are fundamental to brain function are: