Deep-frying robs food of nutrients. These foods also tend to trigger chronic health conditions, including acidity problems and irritable bowel syndrome, writes Joyce Gathu
Different types of fat
Although people have long been warned of the dangers lurking in eating fatty foods, not all fat is unhealthy. As a matter of fact, fat is one of the six nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.
Milly Nasilwa, a nutritionist in Nairobi explains that what people need to understand is the relationship between fats and calories, and the point at which calories become more harmful than useful to the body.
The five most important nutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. But only three of these nutrients provide calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Fats, Nasilwa says provide the highest amount of proteins.
“A single gram of carbohydrates and that of proteins will give only four calories while each gram of fat will give you nine calories,” she explains.
A calorie, according to experts, is simply a measurement. Just like how you can have a teaspoon of sugar, salt and so on. It is simply the amount of energy released when your body digests and absorbs food. The more calories one takes, the more energy the body absorbs.
A weighty matter
According to Dr James Gicharu, a nutritionist in Nakuru, consuming fewer calories from fat can help keep one’s weight at the desired level and also help reduce cholesterol in blood.
Sources of cholesterol in our bodies are two. An estimated 75 per cent of cholesterol is manufactured within our bodies, while 25 per cent comes from the fatty foods we consume.
“Besides what we eat, people who are overweight or come from families with a history of high cholesterol should be extra cautious and visit a doctor regularly to have their cholesterol monitored,” Dr Gicharu explains.
For those who are in the habit of consuming a lot fatty foods, this could increase cholesterol and cause them serious health complications. Gicharu further says that, when there is too much cholesterol in the blood, one develops a condition called atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing and hardening of arteries.
With time, this condition can progressively block the arteries, blocking blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack.
“A heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of a heart muscle is suddenly blocked. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the affected section of the heart muscle begins to die,” Dr Ann Kirimi, a Cardiologist in Nairobi, explains.
Besides causing heart attack, high cholesterol makes one a perfect candidate for coronary artery diseases, which can consequently increase the risk for irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure or even stroke.
Health complications relating to what people eat is often not an overnight problem, but a consequence of a series of poor health choices.
“Since we cannot completely avoid fat because it is an essential nutrient just like proteins, we should nonetheless make effort to keep fat intake low.
“This coupled with more intake of non-fatty foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and nutrients will yield beneficial results to your overall health,” Nasilwa cautions.
Nasilwa says health problems relating to calories occur when people consume more calories than what their bodies needs. These extra calories are stored as body fat, consequently provoking a myriad of problems ranging from obesity to heart related complications.
However, she warns that even what may be considered as fat-free foods can have a lot of calories since carbohydrates and proteins are also sources of calories. This is because foods generally low in fat can yield a lot of calories depending on the mode of cooking.
A good example is a deep fried potato, which can yield almost three times more calories—700 calories, and a staggering 34 gram of fat.
“A baked potato of reasonably large size contains about 220 calories; this is less than a gram of fat. But, since fried foods are tastier, people tend to shallow or deep fry most of their foods,” Nasilwa says.