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Fat is one of the three main macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Fats, also known as triglycerides, are esters of three fatty acid chains and the alcohol glycerol.The terms "oil", "fat", and "lipid" are often confused. "Oil" normally refers to a fat with short or unsaturated fatty acid chains that is liquid at room temperature, while "fat" may specifically refer to fats that are solids at room temperature. "Lipid" is the general term, as a lipid is not necessarily a triglyceride. Fats, like other lipids, are generally hydrophobic, and are soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water. Fat is important foodstuff for many forms of life and fats serve both structural and metabolic functions. They are necessary part of the diet of most heterotrophs (including humans). Some fatty acids that are set free by the digestion of fats are called essential because they cannot be synthesized in the body from simpler constituents. There are two essential fatty acids (EFAs) in human nutrition: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Other lipids needed by the body can be synthesized from these and other fats. Fats and other lipids are broken down in the body by enzymes called lipases produced in the pancreas.
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Scope & Importance
The scope of the field has grown in recent years and the boundaries between the science of nutrition and many other biological sciences have blurred. For example, the science of nutrition includes chemistry to study how food ingredients interact with each other; physiology to investigate how nutrients within food are assimilated into body tissues; engineering to design new fortified foods; anthropology to explore why we chose to eat certain foods in centuries past; and psychology to determine what attitudes and behaviours influence our dietary patterns today. Nutritionists often have either a college or advanced degree in nutrition or a related field, whereas clinical (human) nutrition specialists will have graduate degrees, which may include medicine, and have completed an examination for certification. Registered dietitians are nutrition professionals who are often responsible for applying nutritional science to clinical practice to promote health and treat disease. Dietitians frequently work in hospitals but also may be employed in universities, public health departments, restaurants, the food industry, and exercise facilities. Similarly, given the broad scope of the field, other nutrition professionals include but are not limited to physicians, biochemists, anthropologists, epidemiologists, geneticists, food scientists, and engineers.
Scope of fats in different regions
Fats and oils are used throughout the world for both food applications and industrial uses. They are consumed in butter, shortening, margarine, salad and cooking oils, as well as in animal feeds, fatty acids, soaps, personal care products, biodiesel, paints (made from alkyd resins), lubricants and greases. The sources of fats and oils include edible vegetable oils, palm oils, industrial oils, animal fats and marine oils. Food applications account for the major share (about three-quarters) of worldwide consumption of fats and oils. However, there has been a continued shift from food to industrial consumption, particularly in biodiesel. In Europe, this has been due primarily to increased use of rapeseed oil for biodiesel production. In Central and South America, country mandates have brought about an increase in the use of soybean oil for biodiesel. Also, industrial applications for other oil crops are being further studied and developed. Industrial use of fats and oils is expected to continue to increase in Europe.
Global production of the major fats and oils is led by Asia. Indonesia is the world's largest producer, accounting for over 44% of the world's palm oil production, the major type of vegetable oil produced. China produces a nearly equivalent volume of fats and oils, and is a larger producer of soybean and canola oils. Malaysia ranks third in world production because of its place as the second-largest world palm oil producer. India also produces large volumes of canola and butter. Overall, Asia accounts for over 50% of world fats and oils production. Similarly, world consumption is driven mainly by Asia, which accounts for 44% of the world total. China and India together make up 32% of the world total. Chinese demand is mainly for soybean oil, followed by canola and palm oils. India is a major consumer of canola oil, as well as palm oil and butter. Both countries expect continued strong growth. Indonesia and Malaysia also contribute to overall consumption, especially in palm oil demand.
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This page was last updated on 11th Sep, 2015
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