We all require a healthy diet, consisting of all the macro and micronutrients, to keep our body fit. Since most of us pay special attention to the proteins and vitamins in our diet, the role of fats in our body tends to get ignored. You may not realize this but fats help perform some important functions that help keep diseases at bay. The two types of unsaturated fats; monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) help in reducing bad cholesterol in the body and also keep the heart healthy.
In a recent study, published in the journal Science on 16th October 2020, it was found that fat helps fight bacteria by helping the immune system of the body.
Fat helps in fighting bacteria
Earlier it was believed that lipid droplets (fat molecules present in the cells) are used by bacteria to be able to survive inside the host cells. However, in this recent research, scientists found that these lipid droplets can help destroy bacteria, thus protecting the cells.
It is a well-known fact that whenever a foreign microorganism enters the body, the immune system recruits white blood cells such as macrophages to fight that infection. In case of a bacterial infection, the lipid droplets move to that part of the macrophage where the bacteria are present.
During the fight between the bacteria and macrophages, the bacteria uses all the nutrients and thus the white blood cells are deprived of energy.
At this point, the lipid droplets not only act as a fuel source for the mitochondria (powerhouse of the cell) but also attack the bacteria.
As per the scientists, these lipid molecules could be used as an alternative way to fight bacterial infection, especially in the cases of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Following are some other benefits of fats:
1. They help in temperature regulation of the body
There are several types of fat in the body, out of which the brown fat, also called the brown adipose tissue, dissipates energy and produces heat whenever our body requires it. Thus, it helps maintain body temperature.
2. They are important for improving cardiovascular and metabolic health
Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are essential for maintaining heart health. Omega-3 fats (a type of polyunsaturated fats) help lower blood pressure, reduce the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol, thus decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
3. They help in absorption of vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K are extremely essential for the body as they help in maintaining healthy teeth, bones, joints, mucus membranes and skin. However, they can only be absorbed in the body if you add unsaturated fats (sunflower, olive, walnut and corn oil) in your diet.
4. They help lose weight
This might seem unbelievable to many but the consumption of healthy fats such as fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and coconut oil can help keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, thus aiding weight loss.
5. They help keep skin healthy
Fatty acids such as EPA and DHA help in maintaining excellent skin health as they prevent the skin from drying, manage the oil production of the skin, prevent premature ageing of the skin and also protect the skin from sun damage.
For more information, read our article on Fats.
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