Experts used to think fat was just…well fat. But new scientific research is revealing that body fat can’t all be painted with the same brush. In fact, where your fat lies, what color it is, and how much there is of it can impact your health in ways you might not even think of. Some fat is actually necessary and good for you while others might cause you health problems. Let’s break it down for you: the good, the bad, and the ugly about body fat.  

White fat (for lack of a better scientific term) is the kind of fat most people think about when they consider body fat. It consists of white cells that are larger and can be found in places like the belly, the arms, the thighs, and even the buttocks. We store these cells for energy use later. These cells are essential for the hormones estrogen, insulin, leptin, and the stress hormone cortisol. But too much can be harmful and cause diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart and kidney disease or stroke. The exact optimal levels of this fat vary from person to person, but experts recommend an average of twenty-five to thirty-two percent for the average woman. Athletes and women who exercise a lot will have acceptable levels that may be lower. 

Brown Fat is predominant in infants, but we tend to lose it as we age. A tiny amount of this fat is kept in adults around the shoulders and neck. Brown fat burns fatty acids. This keeps you warm, and new research is being conducted to see how this type of fat may help to avert diabetes. 

Beige or Brite fat is somewhat of a mix between white and brown fat. And it’s a new field of cutting edge research. These type of fat cells aid in burning fat. Experts say that enzymes and hormones that are released when you’re cold, exercising or experiencing stress turn white fat into beige. Moreover, studies are being conducted to try and maximize this vital commodity in our bodies and help to combat the problem of obesity.  

Not all fat is bad. In fact, some are good for you, and you need it. That’s good news. And more research is being done every day to help us understand which fat can keep us healthy and which fat we need to lose.

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