First and foremost, the triglycerides provide the body with energy. When a person dances all night, his stored triglycerides provide the fuel to keep her moving. when a person loses his appetite, his stored triglycerides fuel much of his body’s work until he can eat again. Stored fat supports many of life’s activities. Stored fat also insulates the body. Fat is a poor conductor of heat, so the layer of fat beneath the skin helps keep the body warm. Fat pads also serve as shock absorbers, supporting and cushioning the vital organs.
Fat also helps the body use its two other energy nutrients,carbohydrate and protein efficiently. Fat fragments combine with glucose fragments during energy metabolism, and fat helps spare protein, providing energy so that protein can be used for other important tasks.
Essential Fatty Acids
The human body needs fatty acids, and it can make all but two of them linoleic acid and linolenic acid. They must be supplied by the diet and are therefore called essential fatty acids. The body uses these essential fatty acids to maintain the structural parts of cell membranes and to make many hormonelike substances known as eicosanoids. Eicosanoids help in regulating the blood pressure, clotting of blood and lipids,and the immune response to injury and infection.
Linoleic acid is the primary member of the omega-6 family. Given linoleic acid, the body can make other members of the omega-6 family such as the 20-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid. Should a linoleic acid deficiency develop, arachidonic acid, and all other fatty acids that derive from linoleic acid, would also become essential and have to be obtained from the diet. Normally, vegetable oils and meats supply enough omega-6 fatty acids to meet the body’s needs.