Fat. The word alone holds a negative undertone. But why?
It turns out we have been lied to by the food industry for the majority of our lives about the true nature of fat. False research studies and the money-making schemes to promote sugar consumption has led us astray.
Personal Trainers, Nutritionists, Dietitians, and health enthusiasts have been breaking barriers in pursuit of truth in recent years. Now, through the power of the internet, we can finally open up our eyes to the truth behind fats.
First, let’s introduce to you the different types of fats. The difference between these fats is in their saturation or how many double-bonds are in the fatty-acids chain. These types of fats include:
- Trans Fat – man-made processed fats created by a process known as Hydrogenation.
- Saturated Fat – no double-bonds
- Polyunsaturated Fat – two or more double-bonds
- Monounsaturated Fat – one double-bond
These man-made fats are altered forms of saturated fats used to make common liquid fats into solid ones. This way, they could be added to conventional processed foods like chips, cookies, and salad dressings. Why would they do this, you ask? Because trans fats taste good! Damn those Milano Cookies!
Unfortunately, they don’t do as much good for your body in return. Trans fats have been the reason for numerous studies, and it turns out they increase our LDL levels, our “bad” cholesterol, and lower our HDL levels, our “good” cholesterol. The complete opposite of what we need.
And that’s not all. Research suggests a strong relationship between diets high in trans fats and the occurrence of diseases like atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. It increases inflammation and contributes to insulin resistance, which shares a powerful link with heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.
For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to avoid trans fats.
Saturated Fats are the middleman in regards to fats. They have both good and bad qualities. This type of fat is popular in the western diet and is found in animal products, dairy products including milk and cheese, and coconut oil.
In contrast to healthier fats, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats, such as saturated fats, have a higher chance of raising cholesterol levels. On the flipside, saturated fats have an edge on healthier fats when it comes to testosterone and androgen production, two crucial hormones for cell development.
One notable outlier is coconut oil, which is considered by many as the healthiest form of fat, even though it’s saturated fat. (insert notes on coconut oil) Overall, you should consume these types of fats in small amounts.
Polyunsaturated fats (PUF’s) are the close cousin to Monounsaturated fats. They are definitely on the healthier side and are found most commonly in oils.
PUF’s are known for being “essential,” meaning your body has no way of producing it, so it has to be consumed from an outside food source. They are also known for containing Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3’s are found mostly in oily fish such as salmon, but oils can also carry them. Omega-3’s have shown signs of preventing the aging process by reducing the risk of dementia, loss of sight, and rheumatoid arthritis. They also support healthy brain function and the reduction of inflammation.
Omega-6’s aid in preventing the risk of heart disease and improving brain function, cell repair, bone growth, and regulating metabolism.
The recommended ratio of consumption to Omega-3″s is 1:10, it just so happens that most oils rich in these fatty acids have a similar ratio compared to a typical western diet that more closely resembles 1:50.
If you aren’t a fish eater, you should focus on consuming a healthy quantity of PUF’s.
Monounsaturated Fats (MUF’s) are considered the healthiest fats. At room temperature, these fats are – for the most part – in liquid form. The consumption of MUF’s helps decrease our LDL levels and increase our HDL levels. Common foods include olive oil, avocados, and various nuts.
The Mediterranean Diet is a popular example of how healthy fats can be. In the Mediterranean regions, fats – commonly MUF’s such as olive oil – are consumed in more significant quantities than other regions. The result? A lower rate of heart disease than areas with a low-fat diet. This change was revealed in a study in the 1960s, which brought a lot of attention to MUF’s. This study led to oils being used more often in a western diet. Thank you, Italian ancestors.
My favorite way to get more of these fats in my diet is by adding a tablespoon of oil – typically olive oil – to my salad, pasta, rice, or chicken. Coupled with PUF’s, they should make up the majority of your fat intake.
Why are healthy fats beneficial to our health?
Fats have been plagued in the past for increasing our cholesterol levels and being a significant contributor to health disease and obesity. Today, those assumptions have been replaced with cold-hard facts. Healthy fats are necessary for:
- Cell membrane growth – the protective barrier for each of our cells
- Maintaining the sheaths surrounding our nerve cells
- Fighting off inflammation
- Hormone production
- Organ protection
- An alternative source of energy
In conclusion, find the foods that you enjoy eating and stick with them. Get creative in the ways you assimilate them into your meals and reap the benefits. You now know which fats to steer towards and which to stay away from.
The purpose of this article is not to scare you into never consuming trans or saturated fats again, but to educate you on their risks and benefits. We all indulge in our own ways, and that is fine, all things in moderation. The choice is yours.
It is also essential to find the best nutrient profile for yourself, meaning how many of your daily calories do you consume through carbs, fats, and protein. You can find out by experimenting with foods to find which works best for you, contacting a professional for guidance, or anything in between.
Regardless of your approach, fat should be a part of it.
- (2017, July 12). Is saturated fat bad for me? Retrieved January 22, 2018, from
- Trans Fatty Acid Molecule. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2018, from
https://www.worldofmolecules.com/foods/trans_fatty_acids.htm Publishing, H. H. (n.d.).
- The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. Retrieved January 22, 2018, from