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What Are Visible Fats?

by
author image Sukhsatej Batra
As a scientist and educator, Sukhsatej Batra has been writing instructional material, scientific papers and technical documents since 2001. She has a diverse scientific background, having worked in the fields of nutrition, molecular biology and biochemistry. Batra holds a PhD in foods and nutrition, and a certificate in professional technical communication.
What Are Visible Fats?
Two chefs are preparing food with cooking oil. Photo Credit David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

All fats in your diet are classified either as visible or invisible fat. Fats that you use for cooking or add to your foods are visible fats, while those that contribute to the taste and flavor of a food, but you cannot see, are invisible fats. Both visible and invisible fats are naturally present in many foods. Regardless of the form, all fats are concentrated sources of energy that provide 9 calories in every gram of fat you eat. By limiting your intake of visible fat, you can reduce the total number of calories consumed.

Sources of Visible Fat

Visible fats are obviously familiar and come from a variety of sources. Butter, lard, shortening, margarine, ghee or clarified butter and cream are some of the visible fats that are solid at room temperature. All kinds of cooking and salad oils, including olive, canola and sunflower oils, are also visible fats that are liquid at room temperature. Apart from these sources of visible fat that you can buy from the aisles of your grocery, some visible fats are present on the cuts of meat, bacon and poultry skin.

Sources of Invisible fat

When visible fats are used to cook foods, they become an integral part of the food and are then called invisible fats. These include the fats present in many favorite snacks and deserts such as potato chips, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, ice creams and chocolate. Invisible fats are the major source of energy in foods like burgers, fries, pizzas, cheese, processed and luncheon meats. Eggs, milk, coconuts and most nuts also contain invisible fat.

Saturated Fats

The fatty acids that make up visible and invisible fats are responsible for the characteristic of the fat and the impact the fat has on your health. Saturated fatty acids are predominantly present in visible fats from animal sources such as butter, meat and milk fat, although coconut, palm and palm kernel oils are also rich in saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats increase your risk for heart diseases by raising the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. You should limit your intake of visible fats that contain saturated fats to lower your risk of heart disease.

Mono- and Polyunsaturated Fats

Canola, olive and peanut oils contain mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which decrease your risk of heart disease as they lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in blood. Polyunsaturated fatty acids that are present in oils such as canola, corn, safflower and sunflower also help to improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease. The essential omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are present in fatty fish and soybean oil. Limiting your intake of visible fats, however, can help reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease and even cancer.

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