What is shortening used for?

Fats - in what and for what?

The type of fatty acids is important

Along with proteins and carbohydrates, fats are one of the three basic building blocks of our diet. They are an important supplier of energy for the human organism. Ideally, 55-60 percent of the energy requirement is covered by carbohydrates, 25-30 percent by fat and 10-15 percent by proteins.

It is also important which type of fat is supplied to the body, since the fats differ in their structure and usability for the body and thus influence the organism and metabolism differently. For example, one should make sure that the majority of the fat ingested consists of unsaturated fatty acids, because the body cannot produce these itself.

What do people need fats for?

  • As an energy carrier: With an energy content of 37.7 kJ = 9 kcal / g, fat is the most energy-rich food carrier.
  • As mechanical protection for organs such as the kidneys, liver and brain. Fat is, so to speak, an inner padding of the body.
  • For heat protection function.
  • For the absorption of fat-soluble substances, e.g. B. Vitamin A, D, E.
  • Fat is a flavor carrier and prolongs the feeling of satiety after eating.
  • As an energy store: Excess fat is stored as a fat depot.
  • Fat is a building material for cells of all types and their components.
  • Fat is a starting material for mediator substances with inflammation-regulating effects

What happens to fats in the body?

Fat-soluble vitamins are on
the fat intake instructed

In the mouth, the fats are broken down mechanically by chewing movements and enriched with an enzyme to break down the fats. However, this only becomes active in the acidic environment of the stomach. In the small intestine, the fats are then broken down into their components - fatty acids and glycerides. The resulting cleavage products are then absorbed into the intestinal cells via transport proteins. Their further path leads them either to be transported via the lymph vessels or into the bloodstream to the liver. In biochemical breakdown pathways, they are finally converted into energy or stored in fat deposits.

What types of fat are there?

On the one hand, one can differentiate between animal and vegetable fats, which can be simple or complete. Furthermore, a distinction is made between fats with saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Simple fats

The simple fats include the neutral fats, compounds between fatty acids and glycerine. Depending on whether the glycerine particle is linked to one, two or three fatty acids, one speaks of mono-, di- or triglycerides. With a share of 90 percent, the latter make up the main factor in dietary fats.

Complex fats

Complex fats include

  • Phospholipids: Compounds of fatty acids and phosphoric acids for building up the cell structure (e.g. lecithin, found in soybeans)
  • Glycolipids: Compounds of fatty acids and carbohydrates for building cell membranes and dry brain mass (e.g. cerebrosides)
  • Lipoproteins: Fats that are surrounded by special proteins and thus enable the transport of fats in the blood. That is why they are also called blood lipids (LDL, HDL). Since fat is normally not soluble in water, without lipoproteins it would clog the bloodstream.

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

The degree of saturation is divided into saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The structure changes with increasing saturation. Liquid fats such as B. oils, consist mainly of unsaturated fatty acids and solid fats, such as. B. Butter, especially from saturated.

Saturated fat

Saturated fat
should be reduced

Saturated fatty acids are mostly found in animal foods (e.g. meat, butter, cheese). They do not have to be ingested in large quantities through food, as they can be produced by the body itself. Too much saturated fat increases the level of LDL ("bad cholesterol") and total cholesterol.

Monounsaturated fatty acids

Monounsaturated fatty acids can also be produced by the body itself and are mainly found in vegetable oils (especially olive oil and rapeseed oil). They improve the balance of blood cholesterol levels. The "good cholesterol" HDL increases or remains constant. The "bad cholesterol" LDL is reduced.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Salmon oil capsules are rich
in omega-3 fatty acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are also called essential fatty acids. Since the organism cannot produce them itself, they have to be taken in with food. A high intake of essential fatty acids lowers LDL and total cholesterol levels.

They are necessary for the development of cell structures and transport units, regulate lipid metabolism and are important for the development of signal substances (e.g. prostaglandins). Polyunsaturated fatty acids are divided into omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Alpha linolenic acid: Occurrence in linseed oil, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, walnut oil, dark green leafy vegetables and nuts)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Occurrence in high-fat fish from cold waters, e.g. B. Mackerel, salmon and tuna. OMEGA-3 CAPS contain both EPA and DHA in high concentrations.

Omega-6 fatty acids

  • Linoleic acid: Found in sunflower oil, safflower oil, pumpkin seed oil, corn oil and grapeseed oil
  • Arachidonic acid: Found in animal foods such as meat, offal, butter and egg yolk

Fat accompanying substances

With fat you also take in fat accompanying substances. These include Lecithin, the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, carotenoids, steroid hormones and cholesterol. Cholesterol is an important component of the cell membrane and a precursor to bile acids and some hormones. It is also important for building up vitamin D. Cholesterol is only found in foods of animal origin such as eggs, fatty meat, sausage products and cheese. Since high cholesterol levels in combination with other risk factors increase the likelihood of vascular or cardiovascular disease, these foods should only be consumed in limited quantities. However, the level of cholesterol depends primarily on the body's own production and only secondarily on the intake from food.

What are trans fats?

A typical by-product of (partial) fat hardening are the so-called trans fatty acids. They are mainly found in margarine, shortening and products made with these fats, such as: B. Potato chips, puff pastry, biscuits and ready meals contain. It has now been proven that trans fatty acids increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and sudden cardiac death. There is also strong evidence of an association with other diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases.

Trans fats are harmful
and should be avoided

If you see a product that has "partially hydrogenated vegetable fat" listed in its ingredients, it means that it contains trans fats. However, since 2009 there has been a trans fat regulation in Austria which prohibits the placing on the market of products with harmful amounts of trans fatty acids.

This means that all fats, oils and foods made from them must not contain more than two percent artificial trans fatty acids in their fat content.

How high is a person's fat requirement?

Dietary fats are important sources of energy, but can also increase the risk of certain diseases, such as B. cardiovascular diseases increase. So it depends above all on which fats and how much of them we eat. It is by no means advisable to eat a fat-free diet, as some fat components fulfill other important functions in addition to providing energy. The average fat requirement of an adult is around 30 percent of the amount of energy consumed, which corresponds to 2,000 kcal per day 65 g fat.

For example, 10 g of fat are contained in: = 10 g of vegetable oil
= 12 g butter or margarine
= 12 g mayonnaise
= 29 g of upper
= 16 g nuts
= 30 g french fries, chips
= 30 g milk chocolate
= 45 g Gouda
= 36 g meat loaf
= 40 g extra sausage
= 250 g turkey ham
= 5 kg of carrots

Conversely, a portion of roast pork and a meat loaf each provide 27 g, a pair of Frankfurters 26 g of fat. One third of the fat should consist of saturated and the rest of unsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids. The ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids should be approximately 5: 1 or less and the cholesterol ingested should not exceed 300 mg. Trans fatty acids should only make up a maximum of one percent of the energy intake, as they only have negative effects on health.


Dipl.eoc.troph. Peter Scholz (nutritionist, fitness trainer A license, customer service & product development FREY Nutrition®)

Sources / studies:

Ruehe, Bettina: Gastroenterology. Basics, Munich: Elsevier, Urban & Fischer, 2005
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