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Fats are the main energy storers of the body. On oxidation, fats give almost two and a
half times the energy as that of glucose or glycogen. This makes it most suitable for energy
storage. It, however, uses up more oxygen molecules during oxidation when compared to
carbohydrates as it contains lesser oxygen. Fats are stored in adipose tissue in certain regions
of the body like under the skin and between internal organs. In addition to storage, fats are
also used to synthesize structural lipids such as those of membranes. Fats take care of almost
25% of our energy requirements.
Classification of fats
There are two types of fat - saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats do not have
double bonds and are solids at room temperature. Whereas, unsaturated fats have one or
more double bonds and are liquids at room temperature. Butter, ghee, etc. are saturated fats
and oils are unsaturated fats. High intake of saturated fats increases blood cholesterol level
that can lead to coronary disorders and high blood pressure. Thus people who have a
sedentary lifestyle such as old people should reduce the intake of saturated fats. However
people involved in heavy labour, fat intake should be more, as their energy requirement is
Depending on the dietary requirements, fats are of two kinds - essential and nonessential. Essential fats are those that are not synthesized by the body and have to be
included in the diet. For e.g., linoleic acid, linolenic acid, arachidonic acid, etc. Non-essential
fats are those that are synthesized by the body and are not necessary in the diet. For e.g.,
Functions of fats :
1) They are the chief energy storers of the body, which form an important source of energy
during starvation or other emergencies.
2) Fats play a role in the absorption of fats soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K.