Introduction: The Role of Fats in Human Diet

Thomas A B Sanders*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    This chapter reviews the role of fat in human diets. The term lipid is used to describe fatty acids and esters and potential esters of fatty acids. Most dietary fat consist of triglycerides, but there are small amounts of more complex lipids, such as phospholipids, present in the cell membranes of all food we eat. For many years, fat has been regarded as an undesirable constituent of the human diet, contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. However, more recently, this dogma has been questioned by findings from long-term prospective cohort studies, which have measured individual intakes and related intake to subsequent risk of disease with adjustment for differences in known risk factors, such as smoking, low socioeconomic status, age, and gender. Furthermore, there is a growing evidence to suggest that the replacement of fat by refined carbohydrates may have adverse health effects and that some lipids (e.g., the essential fatty acids) and constituents of vegetable oils, such as vitamin E, phytosterols, and polyphenols, have positive health effects. However, the key dietary role of fat is to supply food energy. It also provides the essential fatty acids and facilitates the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Fat is also an important functional ingredient, acting as a carrier of flavors, as well providing desirable textures and mouthfeel to many food products.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFunctional Dietary Lipids
    Number of pages20
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2015

    Publication series

    NameFood Science, Technology and Nutrition
    PublisherWoodhead Publishing


    • Energy
    • Fat
    • Fatty acids
    • Lipid
    • Noncommunicable disease
    • Obesity
    • Vegetable oils


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