Understanding Fats: A Brief Explanation of the Four Types of Fats


Those people looking to understand what their dietician is talking about when they compare good fats to bad fats will not find these terms on food labels. Instead you will see words like polyunsaturated and Trans fats.

This article will give you a brief explanation of the four types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and Trans fats) and how they affect your body.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are the fats that stay solid at room temperature, such as lard, coconut oil and cow butter. Saturated fats are what dieticians consider “bad fats” because they raise your bad cholesterol level, thereby raising your total cholesterol level.

According to Kristensguide.com saturated fats are often found in animal products such as animal flesh, dairy products and eggs and some vegetable products like coconuts and palm oil. People whose diet consists of many foods high in saturated fats typically are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats have a lower melting temperature than saturated fats, which means that they do not stay solid at room temperature. These types of fats can be found in: canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados.

Monounsaturated fats are what dieticians consider the “good fats” that lower bad cholesterol without lowering your levels of good cholesterol. In addition, monounsaturated fats help to prevent against cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats, otherwise known as essential fatty acids, are fats that can stay liquid even at lower temperatures. Polyunsaturated fats are found in safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, fish, and fish oil.

Dieticians consider polyunsaturated fats the “good fats” as they lower cholesterol and they help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering the amount of fat in the blood.

Trans Fats

Trans fats, often called “hydrogenated” are man-made fats that are created during the hydrogenation process. They are usually monosaturated or polyunsaturated fats that have been processed to make them solid at room temperature. These types of fats are unnatural and toxic to your body. Trans fats are abundant in packaged and processed foods. Some of the foods that Trans fats are found in include vegetable shortening, margarine, and some dairy products.

Dieticians consider Trans fats the “bad fats” as they can cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, low birth weight babies, and sterility.

How Fats Affect You

Fats are essential to your overall health. Fats provide energy and certain types of vitamins and minerals can only be processed by your body when fats are present. Trying to eliminate fats from your diet can lead to problems like vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

While you cannot eliminate fats completely from your diet, you should be conscious to consume fats in moderation.

Most dieticians will recommend that no more than 10 percent of your daily calories come from saturated fats, with up to 10 percent coming from polyunsaturated fats and up to 15 percent coming from monounsaturated fats. No amount of Trans fats are safe or are recommended on a daily basis.

The best way to keep an eye on your daily fat intake is to be cautious of what you eat and to be a good label reader. This will help you to keep your dietary fats at a healthy level.

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