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After studying this chapter, the reader should be able to:

  • 3.1 List the functions of fat in the body.

  • 3.2 Describe the difference between saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans fat.

  • 3.3 Outline the process of fat digestion, absorption, and storage.

  • 3.4 Describe the effect of various fats on health and disease risk.

  • 3.5 Describe the effect of fat intake on athletic performance.

  • 3.6 List several principles to share with clients when discussing fat intake.


  • adequate intake The amount of intake believed to cover the needs of all healthy individuals in age-and gender-specific groups; used when insufficient evidence is available to establish an RDA.

  • adipocyte A fat cell.

  • adipose tissue Fatty tissue; connective tissue made of fat cells.

  • androgen A hormone that stimulates or produces masculine characteristics.

  • angina Chest pain due to decreased blood flow resulting in inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscle.

  • atherogenic dyslipidemia A triad of increased blood concentrations of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles, and increased triglycerides.

  • atherosclerosis The accumulation of fatty material on the inner walls of the arteries, causing them to harden, thicken, and lose elasticity.

  • bile acids Produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, these acids are important in the digestion of fat. After lipid digestion, they are recycled and reused by the liver.

  • cardiovascular disease A term that refers to disease of the heart and vascular system.

  • cholecystokinin (CCK) A hormone released from the small intestine in response to the presence of amino acids and fatty acids from protein and fat digestion; stimulates the pancreas to secrete enzymes, stimulates the gallbladder to contract, and slows gastric emptying through release of gastric inhibitory peptide and secretin.

  • cholesterol A fat-like waxy structure found in the blood and body tissues and some animal-based foods. Cholesterol is important in metabolism as the precursor to various steroid hormones. It is transported in the body via lipoproteins. Excess cholesterol can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

  • chylomicron A large lipoprotein particle that transports fat from digested food from the small intestine to the liver and adipose tissue.

  • coronary heart disease The major form of cardiovascular disease that results when the arteries supplying the heart muscle (coronary arteries) are narrowed or completely blocked by deposits of fat and fibrous tissue.

  • dietary fat Fat consumed in the diet; in contrast to fat produced in the body.

  • dietary reference intake (DRI) A collective term used to refer to several types of reference values: recommended dietary allowance, estimated average requirement, tolerable upper intake level, and adequate intake.

  • eicosanoids Locally acting hormones that are made from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and play roles in inflammation, fever, regulation of blood pressure, blood clotting, immunity, control of reproductive processes and tissue growth, and regulation of the sleep/wake cycle.

  • emulsify To break lipids into small droplets to facilitate fat digestion and absorption.

  • essential fatty acids Fats that are not produced by the body and must be consumed in ...

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