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The Fat Project


Group 3- Kyra, Alak, David, KC, Sergio




The following article will give a background on many different aspects of fat and cholesterol, including, but not limited to, chemical structure, products, and effects on the body. It is designed for casual reference only, and should not be cited as scholarly material.


Jump to a Section: 

 · 1 Cholesterol

· 2 Fat in General

· 3 Specific Fats

· 4 Fat Products

· 5 Fat and the Body

· 6 Other 



Cholesterol (Kyra)


Why does Cheerio Man suck up the cholesterol? Does He?

The cereal, Cheerios, is clinically proven to lower your blood cholesterol. Three grams of soluble fiber a day, in a low saturated fat diet, will help lower your blood cholesterol. But only certain cereals, like Cheerios, have the benefits from soluble fiber from whole grain oats. Per cup, cheerios has 1 gram of soluble fiber (8).  The important thing to remember is that Cheerios is the only cold cereal that is proven to help lower blood cholesterol in a healthy diet. Although ‘Cheerio Man’ doesn’t actually suck up the cholesterol, by eating Cheerios, you can reduce your blood cholesterol.   The soluble fiber in the cheerios  works by forming a gel in your digestive systems, which may bind cholesterol and take it out of the body. By lowering your cholesterol, you also lower your risk at getting heart disease.


What is Cholesterol? What is it supposed to do?

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found among the lipids in the bloodstream and in your body’s cells.  Most people only think of cholesterol as bad, however, it is an important part of any healthy body. It is important because it’s used to form cell membranes, some hormones and is needed for other functions.  However, a high level of cholesterol in the blood, which is called hypercholesterolemia, is a major risk for coronary heart disease.  Cholesterol and other fats can not dissolve in the blood. They have to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins (7). The most focused on are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).


What is an LDL or HDL, Good or Bad? What is the Relation between cholesterol and LDL?

Low-density lipoprotein is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood. If there is too much LDL circulating the blood, it slowly will build up in the walls of the arteries feeding the heart and brain (7).  Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog your arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis. A clot will form near this plaque and it will block the blood flow to part of the heart and cause a heart attack. Also, if a clot stops the blood flow from getting to part of the brain, a stroke may occur. A high level of LDL, which is between160 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL, results in an increased risk of heart disease (7). Your LDL should be less than 100 mg/dL, if you have heart disease. This is why LDL, is called ‘bad’ cholesterol.


 High Density lipoprotein makes up about one-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol carriers. Many doctors and medical experts believe that HDL carries cholesterol away from the arteries and to the liver. There it is passed from the body. Some think that HDL removes excess cholesterol from plaques, which slows their growth. HDL is the ‘good’ cholesterol because if one has a high HDL level it seems to protect against heart attack. This is the opposite of LDL, which if you have a high level of LDL, it increases your risk at heart disease and heart attacks.








Fat in General (Alak)


Argument for "Fat is Bad"





This cartoon illustrates one of the many bad effects of excessive fat. The reason fat causes overweightness and obesity in so many people is because 1 gram of fat contains over twice the amount of energy that a gram of carbohydrates or a gram of protein has. So, of all the food types, fat has the greatest potential not to be fully burned up and therefore to increase our body fat (2).  

Also, with excessive fat comes longer blood vessels, which can take a huge toll on our hearts. Extra fat also increases the pressure and wear-and-tear on joints.  It has also been shown to increase the chances of getting gallstones, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Other effects include high cholesterol, and clogged arteries, which in turn cause heart attacks and strokes(2).


Argument for "Fat is Good"

Fat is a necessary nutrient in the human diet. It makes up part of our brains, protects some joints, and provides backup for when we are sick (2). Additionally, it provides needed energy, lets the body absorb the essential fat-soluble vitamins A,S,E, and K, and is a part of a variety of other building blocks needed for different purposes. These beneficial effects of fat are only a few of the many small uses throughout the body. If one has a lack of fat, there will be symptoms such as hair loss, dry skin, poor wound healing, and loss of menstruation (9). Also, there have been recent studies showing that one can be overweight and fit/healthy. So, a little overconsumption does not do exceptional damage.


Overall, fat is a vital nutrient for the human body, but one should not consume too much (obesity) or consume too little (anorexia). 


Why does Fat Have to Taste So Good? Why Can't Healthy Foods Be as Satisfying?

Scientists suspect that there could be a sixth taste type (in addition to sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory/umami) that responds specifically to the flavor of fat. "If scientists can find a way to develop nonfattening foods that latch onto the fat receptors, they may be able at long last to develop fat-free snacks that can actually trick the tongue" (1).





Specific Fats (David)

[Works Cited: 16-21]


There are many different types of fats out in your food.

We have been told which are bad and good but do we know why?

Are they actually bad?


Which is worse: Saturated or Unsaturated? What’s the difference?

Saturated Fats contain the most hydrogens possible with a given number of carbons. Unsaturated fats have double bonds in between carbons thus reducing the possible number on hydogens by two with each double bond.

Click Here to understand which is actuallty worse for you


Why is Trans Fat so bad?

Trans fats are produced as a side effect of hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogens to an unsaturated fat to produce a saturated one that is less likely to spoil. The process is not always carried out completely (not all carbon double bonds are broken) resulting in a partially hydrogenated oil. This is a Trans fat. Fully hydrogenated oils do NOT contain Trans Fat. Trans Fat has been shown to raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.  


What does Fish Oil do?

Fish Oil contains Omega-3 which is an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA).

Click Here to see more about Omega-3


 Are there an Omega-1 and Omega-2? Are they good?

No. There is no such thing as Omega-1 and -2. There are however Omega-6 and -9. They are too essential for our health. Omega-9 can be produced naturally by our bodies. (For instance, Omega-9 is the primary oil on your skin.) Our diets are very rich in Omega-6 so it is unnecessary to worry. (It can be found in most oils that we use for cooking) Omega-6 lowers LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and reduces inflammation. Taking supplements of Omega-6 and -9 may actually lead to health problems because it disrupts the balance of these fatty acids in our body.







 Fat Products (KC)




Why was Margarine Made?

Margarine was made as a substitute for butter for many reaons. In the 1860's Napoleon noticed that butter was getting too expensive for the common person who depended on butter. Napoleon III "offered a reward to anyone who could produce an acceptable affordable alternative" (4) to butter. Chemist, Hippolyte Mega Mouries won the prize and name his "invention margarine, taken from the Greek word 'margarites' meaning pearl" (5). In the 1870's a dutch company named Jurgens began to mass produce the invention made by Hippolyte (5). Soon the margarine phenomenon spread throughout the world and became an essential part to our daily lives.


What's the difference between Butter and Margarine?

There are many different types of margarines, so it is very difficult to compare butter and margarine in general. Some margarines are made from animal meats which increases the saturated fat content in the margarine. There are 4 different types of margarine, Liquid, Stick, Diet, and margarine in the tub. The stick margarine has the highest saturated fat content out of the four types. The diet margarine has "one-half to one-third the calories of regular margarine because it contains much more water."(10) Margarine and butter both have about the same amount of calories and sugar but the amount of fats and cholesterol varies. "Margarine contains no cholesterol; butter contains 32 milligrams/tsp. Margarine has 2 g of saturated fat/tsp; butter has 7.5 g. Margarine has 4 g of polyunsaturated fat/tsp.; butter has a half-gram." (10). The main differnece between butter and margarine to the commoner is the price, margarine is cheaper than butter thus the increase of consumption of margarine.





What is Pink Margarine?

In the old days, a marketing stragedy was used by coloring margarine so people would be urged to buy more expensive margarine. A law was put in effect on January 3rd, 2007 (3) banning the production of colored margarine. There are some exceptions that could allow legal production of colored  but certain rules must be followed. Included in the law was that colored margarine could not be given in public places without a proper notification seen by clients (3). 



Fat and The Body (Sergio)




What is BMI?

BMI stands for body mass index. BMI is a number calculated from a person's height and their weight. BMI is a helpful indicator of body fatness for people because it places them into categories of under weight or over weight, however its major flaw is that it does not measure fat in the body directly. For example, a shorter person with a lot of muscle mass may qualify as over weight in a BMI chart because BMI only uses the person's height and weight and does not take into account weight from muscle, water or fat. It is mostly used as an alternative for direct measures of body fat because it correlates directly with some of the more accurate but more expensive ways of measuring pure body fat and is mostly used to check if a person is obese or very underweight.


What are Other Ways to Calculate Fat in the Body?


Other ways to determine fat in the body are skinfold thickness measurements used with calipers, computerized tomography, underwater weighing, bioelectrical impedance, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), near infrared interactance (NIR), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC). Some of these methods are more accurate at measuring body fat than using BMI, all these methods are either expensive, or require specialists to perform the steps in each of the methods.


Why do We Use BMI to Calculate Fat?

We use BMI as a way to calculate body fat, becuase it is a very easy method to complete since a person is able to perform it by himself/herself due to the fact that all that is required is height and weight. It is also the most inexpensive method to perform for getting an estimate of body fat. While it is not the most accurate method, it is mostly reliable as a screening for some serious health problems relating to body fat such as obesity.



Is There a Better Way?

The most accurate method to calculate body fat is Hydrostatic/underwater weighing. It uses the Archimedes principle which basically says that when a body is under any kind of liquid, the body will rise due to the counter force equal to the weight of the liquid that is displaced. Using this method, a person with lower body fat percentage will weigh more in the water because muscle and bone are more dense than water. Therefore, a person with higher body fat percentage will weigh less in the water. While this is the most accurate method, there are some disadvantages such as the time this kind of testing consumes. It requires much space and equipmentm and an expert in this field of testing is required.



Other (KC) 



What is Lipitor? 


The scientific name for lipitor is atorvastatin which is a lipid-lowering agent. The agent lowers the cholesterol levels in the body and the blood triglyceride levels. The atorvastin enters the blood stream and slows down the enzyme called " HMG CoA reductase"(11) which is essential for making cholosterol and other lipoproteins. This drug seems to "provide significant protection following heart attack" and aids the restoration of the heart's functions. With almost all drugs there are significant side effects and in this drug there are numerous side effects. The main side effect is possible liver damage because of the slight possibility of the drug interferring with the function of the liver. The drug can change the enzyme levels in the liver so "regular blood tests"(11) are advised.


Can you Get Addicted to Fat?

A person can get addicted to fats and other things like sugar. The addiciton to fat could cause most obesity cases in the United States. The brain has a function that moderates eating behavior and is affected by leptin in the blood. Tests have been performed by many scientists on animals to determine whether a withdrawal was observed from the animals. In one test a scientist concluded that "rats fed high-fat diets take only three days to lose their ability to respond to leptin"(12) causing the rats to be 'obese'.  With the increase of fat the resistence to leptin in the blood also increases. A substance called galanin, which stimulates eating in the brain, also increases in rats that eat a fat meal. In other experiments where the rat was given sugar, after retracting sugar completly from the diet the rat experienced 'withdrawal' like from drugs such as nicotine, crack, and morphine.(12) Other studies showed that " rats that overindulge show "long-lasting changes in their brain chemistry similar to those caused by extended use of morphine or heroin".(12) However, all of these experiments were evaluated by people and done on animals. Although many are sceptical of these experiments on rats, they reflect exactly what the human brain reacts to and how fat has an addictive trait.





Works Cited


1. http://discovermagazine.com/2006/feb/why-fat-tastes-so-good

2. http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2006/08/31/1835452.htm

3. http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+21USC347



6. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/healthyweight/assessing/bmiadult_BMI/about_adult_BMI.htm

 7. www.cdc.gov

  8. www.cheerios.com 

9. http://www.eatingdisordersonline.com/nutritional/fats.php

10. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE48&SID=5&iPin=ENGHS1052&SingleRecord=True

11. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE48&SID=5&iPin=EHDD0070&SingleRecord=True

12. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/30/1043804464977.html

13. http://cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_BMI/about_childrens_BMI.htm 

14. http://www.new-fitness.com/body_fat_analyzing.html 

15. http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwfit/bodycomp.html#Underwater%20Weighing


16. http://www.womentowomen.com/nutritionandweightloss/differencebetweenomega369.aspx

17. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032

18. http://www.springerlink.com/content/7734t22852m6w515/

19. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4582

20. http://www.sustlife.com/br4up/ASustlife/HEALTH/essentialfattyacids.htm

21. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002468.htm





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