Fats and fatty acids.

Fats have acquired a negative connotation, particularly in recent years. Fats consist of fatty acids. We should avoid saturated fatty acids as much as possible and preferably switch to unsaturated fatty acids. In any case: fats and fatty acids serve important functions for the health of humans and animals. We could not live without fats and fatty acids. Fats consist of other fatty acids. Fatty acids consist of a number of chemical substances such as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. When there is an excess of saturated fatty acids, the cholesterol level in the blood is high, which entails a risk for developing cardiovascular diseases. A high level of unsaturated fatty acids ensures a lower cholesterol level. There are essential fatty acids that our body cannot make on its own. Essential fatty acids are linoleic acid, linolenic acid and unsaturated fatty acids. Essential fatty acids have an important function for our body.

The functions of fats

Fats thus have important functions, as they serve as raw material, fuel, insulation, protection, components of vitamins and hormones and as solvent for vitamins.

• Fats as raw material: fats form a part of bodily cells and as such are a raw material.

• Fats as fuel: fats constitute an important source of energy. Fat provides more energy than protein or carbohydrates. Fats which are not used are stored in fatty tissue and in this way form the energy reserve which can be called upon when needed.

• Fats as insulation: fats are stored in fatty tissue just under the skin, and in this way prevent heat loss.

• Fats as component of vitamins and hormones: because fats are components of vitamins and hormones, they play a role in metabolizing nutrients.

• Fats as solvent: fats dissolve Vitamins A, D, E and K and these vitamins are made available to our body via fats. A shortage of these vitamins can arise due to consumption of foods low in fat.

Fat requirement

The percentage of fats in food should not exceed 30-35% of the total amount of energy. We probably have enough with 20%, but this depends on the daily amount of exercise. Birds in small cages burn little fat, but birds in large aviaries do and will seldom be fat.

With regard to fats, we make a distinction between animal fats and vegetable fats. With regard to fatty acids, we distinguish between saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids (mono and poly). Animal fats contain more saturated fatty acids and vegetable fats more unsaturated fatty acids. Insects contain in large measure saturated as well as unsaturated fatty acids. See the analysis below for comparison.