The Digestibility of Fats:
Fats are the Hottest, Most Concentrated and Highest Staying power Foods that we possess. They are, also, as might be expected from their “strength” or concentration, among the slowest to digest of all our foods, so that, as a rule, we can eat them only in very moderate amounts, seldom exceeding one-tenth to one-sixth of our total food. It is not, however, quite correct to say that fats are hard to digest, because, although from their solid, oily character, they take a longer time to become digested and absorbed by the body than most other foods, yet they are as perfectly and as completely digested, with the healthy person, as any other kind of food. Indeed, it is this slowness of digestion which gives them their well-known Staying Power as a food.
Their Place in our Diet
The wholesomeness of fats is well shown by our appetite for them, which is very keen for small amounts of them – witness, for instance, how quickly we notice and how keenly we object to the absence of Butter on our bread or potatoes. To have our “bread well-buttered” is a well known expression for comfort and good fortune; yet a very little excess will turn our enjoyment into disgust. Fat, and particularly the cold fat of meat, “gags” us if we try to eat too much of it.
Fortunately, most of these fat-foods are quite expensive and hence we are not often tempted to eat them in excess. Within proper limits, FATS ARE AN EXCEEDINGLY IMPORTANT AND USEFUL FOOD – a valuable member of the great family of Foods.
The Advantages of Fat as a Ration
The high energy value and the small bulk of fats give them a very great practical advantage whenever supplies of food have to be carried for long distances, or for considerable lengths of time. So fats, in the shape of Bacon or Pork, Pemmican, or the richer dried fishes, like Salmon, Mackerel, and Herring, will be found to play an important part. Fats also have the great advantage, like the starches, of KEEPING WELL FOR LONG PERIODS, especially after they have been melted and sterilized by boiling, or “rendering,” as in the case of lard, or have had moderate amounts of salt added to them, as in Butter.
Most Concentrated Foods
If you were obliged to pick out a ration which would keep you alive, give you working power, and fit into the smallest possible bulk, you would take a protein, a sugar, and a fat in about equal amounts. Indeed to keep soldiers in the field for three or four days without cook-trains, is made up of bacon, pea-meal, and chocolate. A small packet of these, which weighs only a little over two pounds, and which can be slipped into the knapsack, will, with plenty of water, keep a soldier in fighting trim for three days.