Role of lipids in human nutrition
Yaqoob, P. (2012) Role of lipids in human nutrition. In: Handbook of Olive Oil. Springer. (In Press)
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Fat is a major contributor to energy intake in most Western diets, supplying 35–40% of food energy. It is described as being ‘energy-dense’, because a gram of fat (9 kcal/g) yields more than twice as much metabolisable energy as a gram of either carbohydrate or protein (4 kcal/g). Most of the fat we consume in our diet is in the form of triacylglycerol (90-95%), with cholesterol and phospholipids making up the bulk of the remainder. Dietary advice invariably stresses the importance of fat reduction, yet fats have diverse roles in human nutrition. They are important as a source of energy, both for immediate utilisation by the body and in laying down a storage depot (adipose tissue) for later utilisation when food intake is reduced, they act as a vehicle for the ingestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and they have diverse structural and functional roles in the body. Cholesterol is also an essential component of cell membranes and is the precursor for synthesis of hormones. This chapter describes the structure, digestion, transport and functional properties of dietary fat in the body and explains the basis of associations between fat consumption and chronic disease.
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