Updated: Mar 1, 2022
Fats serve several essential and useful functions in both the body and the diet. Th unique roles of fat in the diet include increasing the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and contributing to the flavor and satisfaction of food. In this online publication, you can take a closer look at each of these functions of fats in the body and in the diet.
Fats serve useful functions in both the body and the diet. In the body, fat functions as an important depot for energy storage, offers insulation and protection, and plays important roles in regulating and signaling. Large amounts of dietary fat are not required to meet these functions, because most fat molecules can be synthesized by the body from other organic molecules like carbohydrate and protein (with the exception of two essential fatty acids). Essential fatty acids are fatty acids that are required but not synthesized by the human body. Consequently, they must be supplemented through the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids fall into this category and are one of only two known essential fatty acids for humans (the other being omega-6 fatty acids).
From a nutritional point of view, dietary fats are important for several health related aspects and for optimal functioning of the human body. Dietary fats are not just a source of energy; they function as structural building blocks of the body, carry the so-called "fat-soluble vitamins," are involved in vital physiological processes in the body, and are indispensable for a number of important biological functions including growth and development. The importance of dietary fats is explained in this scientific article.
"Fat-soluble vitamins"—A, D, E and K—are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues. Knowing that fats play such an important role in many basic functions in the body, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health study them in humans and other organisms to learn more about normal and abnormal biology. This publication by NIH details what fats do in the body?