WHAT IS THE MAIN FUNCTION OF THE THREE GROUPS OF LIPIDS?
Mono-unsaturated lipids, such as olive oil, hazel nuts, almonds and macadamia nuts, are used by the body for energy, for the breakdown of cholesterol and they are also stored as body fat in the adipose tissues. Mono-unsaturated oils are the best to use in cooking, if you have to cook and fry, but ideally they are consumed in the natural state, as a cold-pressed oil.
Polyunsaturated lipids, especially omega-3 and omega-6, are the great carriers of nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K. They also transport and break down cholesterol, manufacture other fatty acids, regulate the transfer of oxygen, aid in the protection of the nervous system and the cellular system and cell structure. They are vital for the blood clotting process, they participate in the manufacture of body hormones, regulate healing and are required for development of the foetus and for mental development, especially in infants.
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Polyunsaturated lipids oxidise quickly and are best taken as cold-pressed oils with a fresh garden salad. Canola oil and walnut oil are a rich source of both omega-3 and 6. Flax oil is the richest source of omega-3. When used for cooking, especially frying, oils oxidise into peroxides or free radicals. They cause damage to the arteries, skin cells and may eventually cause cancer. If you have to cook and fry to enjoy a meal, restrict the quantity. Don’t toil over spoilt oil!
NOTE: d.v. refers to the daily value for women 25-50 years, refer to RDI chart for adult male and child values.
Saturated lipids are not essential for health or life. Most natural foods provide a portion of saturated fats in addition to mono-and polyunsaturated (see Food Lipid Balance Chart). Saturated fats are used mainly for energy. Animal produce foods are the main source of saturated fats in the average diet. Saturated fats provide a ‘full stomach feeling’ and easily satisfy the appetite for lengthy periods. These two ‘benefits’ are often the reason for their common consumption; however, numerous problems are associated with a regular consumption of saturated fats with the animal produce foods (refer to Chapter 3K).
Saturated fats are the hardest to digest and they are the most likely to be stored as body fat.