Sep 25, 2017 12:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Fats have often been cast as a villain when it comes to a healthy diet. But they are important when it comes to nutrition and your overall health. 

fats diet

Types of Fats

What is Collagen?

Generally when we think of fats, there is a bad connotation surrounding the word. This is only half true: some fats are good for you. There are two subgroups of fats: saturated and unsaturated. An oversimplified way to think about it is unsaturated fats are good for you - when consumed in moderation - and saturated fats are bad.

Trans Fatty Acids

Unlike other types of fats, trans fatty acids are introduced during a chemical process that adds hydrogen to oils - which helps keep food from spoiling. Trans fats are primarily found in processed foods, like potato chips, refrigerated doughs, margarine, fried foods. Trans fats will increase your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your “good” cholesterol (HDL), leaving more fatty deposits within your arteries.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are found in animal products like red meat, heavy cream, eggs, and any vegetable oils that are solid at room temperature. In small amounts, these fats can help keep your brain and nervous system healthy. However, eating them in excess can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease.

Monounsaturated Fats

This kind of fat is liquid at room temperature, like olive oil, and is also found in avocados, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. It helps lower both blood cholesterol levels and reduces risk of heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats

This fat is also liquid at room temperature, like sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, or canola oil, and is also found in walnuts, fish, and flax seeds. Omega-3 fats are an important type of polyunsaturated fat that the body can’t produce on it’s own; it must come from food. Eating (or replacing other fats with these healthier fats) can help lower your bad cholesterol, improve your lipid levels, and improve overall heart health.

“You should be eating fat,” said Julie Metos, RD, a dietitian with University of Utah Health. “Mostly unsaturated fat, found in foods like avocados, vegetable oils, and olive oil. And in terms of things like saturated fat that come in more meat products, coconut oil,and eggs and animal products... those things are okay to eat too. You just wouldn't want to make your diet primarily, like 70% of those things. You would want to have a good balance of those kinds of food, and watch the amounts because fat is very concentrated in calories”

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