Eat Healthy

Good and Bad Fats

Befuddled about fats? One often hears about "reducing fat" in your diet as a way to manage weight gain and to become healthier. But the truth is, your body needs some fat in order to function properly. We've put together a few facts to help you learn about the different types of fat and how to choose the right types of fats for good health.

UNSATURATED FATS are the healthiest choice. Eating food high in unsaturated fat, especially in place of foods with a lot of saturated fat, may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease. The two main types of unsaturated fats are:

  • MONOUNSATURATED fats: Occur primarily in plant oils. Rich sources include:
    • Olive, canola and peanut oils.
    • Olives, nuts, and avocadoes.
  • POLYUNSATRUATED fats are found in plant foods and some fish. Good sources include:
    • Vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, flaxseed, sesame, and soybean oils
    • Salmon and tuna
SATURATED FAT: Found mainly in foods that come from animals and some plant oils. Some foods high in saturated fat:
  • Animal sources:
    • Meat such as beef, pork, and high fat poultry
    • High fat dairy products such as butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and ice cream
  • Plant sources of saturated fat:
    • Cocoa butter (chocolate)
    • Tropical oils such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil
TRANS FATS: Especially unhealthy for your heart
Trans fats are similar in structure to saturated fats and also raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and may raise blood triglycerides and lower HDL (good) cholesterol (the higher blood value, the better.)

To avoid TRANS FATS, read labels closely.

Limit foods that contain HYDROGENATED or PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS, such as the following:

  • Many margarines (especially stick margarines)
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Packaged snack foods such as chips, crackers, and cookies
  • Bakery items such as doughnuts and pastries
  • Theater popcorn
  • Fried foods such as French fries, fish sticks, chicken nuggets

Read "Nutrition Facts" labels as well as the ingredient list for hidden trans fats listed above. Check the following:

  • Number of servings in package
  • Serving Size
  • Total Fat per serving
  • MonoUNSATURATED fat = Healthiest choice
  • PolyUNSATURATED fat = Healthier choice
  • Saturated fat = Less healthy choice
  • Trans fat = Worst choice
  • TARGET for saturated fat per day: average adult: 20 g (grams)

Source: Susan Blenner, MS, RD, McKay-Dee Hospital, Ogden UT

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