Most of us understand fats as completely unhealthy, nasty things, which cause a lot of harm.
You've probably heard about HDL, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides from your doctor. These fats (medically called lipids) are circulating in your bloodstream.
In fact, specialists have found 600 different kinds of fats in human blood alone. Generally, there are thousands types of lipids in your body. Some of them play a great role in developing diabetes, arthritis, stroke and other serious health disorders.
The reason is that excessive fat may sometimes form plaques inside the vessels, impairing blood circulation and making it hard for organs to attain oxygen-rich blood.
However certain amounts of fats are vital for your organism, as they store energy, protect internal organs and regulate numerous chemical reactions, such as immune response, reproduction and growth. Lipids are essential components of the cells’ membrane. They provide protection and improve circulating molecules in and out the cells.
In order to investigate lipids, their metabolism, activity and role in disease occurrence, researchers have developed special consortium, called LIPID Metabolites And Pathways Strategy (LIPID MAPS).
This major activity, funded from the National Institutes of Health, has first classified all lipids into eight different categories. Six of them include mammal fats, while other two are found in bacteria, plants and marine life.
One of the categories involves phospholipids, which build cell membranes and take part in delivering and receiving signals.
Cholesterol was recognized as “sterol group”, and triglycerides belong to the group, called “glycerolipids”.
Owing to numerous studies, conducted by the LIPID MAPS specialists, nowadays we know a lot about lipid activity, interactions and changes.
For example, using fat species from white blood cells of the mouse, scientists studied inflammatory process, and how statins block cholesterol generation.
Another interesting topic is the way, omega-3 fatty acids, found in cod liver oil, can help in treating arthritis, eczema and cardiovascular disease.
During the study, members of the LIPID MAPS found that polyunsaturated omega-3s can block special enzyme, which promotes conversion of omega-6 fatty acids into inflammation-related chemicals called prostaglandins. This may have a great therapeutic potential and give ability to fight off wide variety of diseases.
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