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Is fat consumption unhealthful?

We must eat fat to stay alive. What is unhealthy is over and under consumption of fat. Thanks to the barrage of warnings from the mass media, most people know the dangers associated with eating too much fat: obesity and coronary heart disease, to name two. However, overcautious people who go to the other extreme (consuming as little fat as possible) unwittingly risk their health another way.

Fat is the vehicle that transport fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) through the body. If your body has used up its stored fats and carbohydrates and does not have a fresh supply of fat as an energy source, your body is forced to resort to its supply of protein, an organic compound that is far better utilized for other missions, such as building body tissues. However, fat, too has its building chores. It is essential for cell development. Besides its nutritive value, fat adds flavor and interest to prepared dishes, and because it takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates, it helps keep the stomach satisfied between meals.

30 percent of a normal adult's calories should come from fat, but in practice, the figure is much higher for the average American. Consequently, most Americans need not fret about a fat shortage in their diet. They should worry about the other peril, excess fat intake.

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