Most experts agree that a high-fat diet, especially one high in animal fat, is unhealthy for several reasons, and one of them is that it is a risk factor for prostate cancer. The cancer risk is associated with the concept that fats enhance tumor growth by promoting the proliferation of cells and by hindering apoptosis (cell death). Fats may also have an impact on hormone levels, which may in turn promote prostate tumor growth.
But not all fats are harmful. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats as are certain other dietary fats.
The Four Fats
The four main types of fat are saturated, trans, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. Although each type has its own specific characteristics and effects on the body, they also share some traits. For example, all fats provide 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice as many calories supplied by protein and carbohydrates, which provide 4 per gram.
You need a balance of fats in your diet to keep yourself in optimal health. For example, fats are necessary to:
- Support brain function. The brain is about 60 percent fat, so if you deprive your body and brain of an adequate amount of healthy dietary fats, you may experience mental and emotional problems.
- Aid the body in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which are A, D, E, and K.
- Maintain proper functioning of the immune system, which has an amazing number of critical tasks to perform in order to keep the body healthy
- Promote gastrotintestinal health and thus help avoid constipation, bloating, and other digestive disorders
- Maintain the health of your skin, hair, and nails
- Promote optimal functioning of the nervous system
- Help you feel fuller longer, which in turn can help you resist the urge to keep on eating
- Help prevent bone mineral loss
Fats and oils are composed of basic units called fatty acids. Each type of fat or oil is a combination of different fatty acids.