Good Fats Versus Bad Fats

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You’re not to blame if you believe that eating fat makes you fat!

After decades of multinational corporations and the diet industry demonising fat, supermarket aisles have become full of heavily processed “low fat” or “100% fat-free” food products.

The truth is your body needs fat to function - it's just a question of the RIGHT kind of fat.

Fats not only provide you with energy and fat-soluble vitamins but also support cell growth and help to keep your skin healthy. However, not all fats are created equal and it’s important to understand which types promote health and which ones cause chaos and disease within the body.

Do The Fats You Eat Actually Make You Fat?

In a nutshell, they can, but only if you're eating the wrong types of fats together with a diet that is letting you down in other areas.

Fats are not entirely to blame for obesity epidemic in today's world, more so, it's processed, packaged foods and refined sugars and grains that are the true culprits.

The fat you eat does not directly get converted into body fat.

What actually causes weight gain is the accumulation of fat stores as a result of consuming too many calories, regardless of whether they originate from fat, sugar, carbohydrate, protein or alcohol. Fats are present in many common foods and contain more calories per gram compared to other energy sources. This calorie density makes fats easy to overeat, especially when they’re combined with other high-calorie substances such as refined sugar and cereals, white flour, white bread, white rice, white pasta, cakes, cookies and junk food. 

Good” Fats Versus “Bad” Fats

Fats can be categorised according to two broad categories:

  1. Saturated fat
  2. Unsaturated fat

However, within each category are additional “subgroups”.

Healthy Fats

Unsaturated fats are the “good” ones and these include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. In fact, if you eat these types of fats in moderation as a substitute for saturated or trans fats they can assist in lowering levels of cholesterol and reducing your risk of getting heart disease.

Present in plant whole foods and vegetable oils are polyunsaturated fats. One particular kind which is especially beneficial for cholesterol and heart health are omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the best plant-based sources include:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds & flaxseed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Hemp oil
  • Evening Primrose oil

And the good news is you don't need to take fish oil supplements, which are unnatural, toxic and can cause a host of side-effects.

Learn more in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Good For Inflammation, Brain & Heart Health

Containing high levels of vitamin E, an antioxidant important for protecting cells from free radical damage, monounsaturated fats can be found in a multitude of plant food sources.

One of the most well-known sources and for good reason is olive oil. This key constituent of the “Mediterranean diet”, helps to contribute to these cultures being among the healthiest and long-lived in the world, partly thanks to their low rates of heart disease.

Learn more in Pour On The Olive Oil: 5 Ways It Keeps You Healthy

You can also find monounsaturated fats in:

  • Avocados
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil

Unhealthy Fats

There are two types of fat that can be considered “bad” for your health and which you should limit in your diet:

  1. Saturated fat
  2. Trans-fatty acids

These are the kinds that can increase your cholesterol levels, clog up your arteries and put you at a much greater risk of heart disease.

At room temperature saturated fats have a liquid state and come from the following sources:

  • Fatty meats & lard
  • Poultry skin
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Coconut Oil*

*Plant foods which are high in saturated fats like coconut, however, affect the body differently to the animal-derived ones at a cellular level.

Trans fatty acids, on the other hand, are normally not naturally-occurring. They’re manufactured and have been through a “hydrogenation” process that has chemically altered their molecular compounds.

These processed foods commonly contain trans fats and should be avoided:

  • Blended “vegetable” oils
  • Deep-fried fast food
  • Margarine
  • Crackers, biscuits & cookies
  • Pastries, pies & sausage rolls
  • Doughnuts
  • Movie popcorn
  • Frozen supermarket foods like spring rolls, “crumbed” meat & fish products
  • Non-dairy coffee whiteners

Consuming even small amounts of these have will not only have the effect of raising your “bad” cholesterol levels but also reduce your “good’ cholesterol levels affecting your heart and cardiovascular health!

Learn more in Cholesterol: The Good, Bad And Ugly

Types Of Fat In Foods

Most foods and oils are made up of a mixture of fats, however, will be dominant in one type. This table can help you to get a better idea of which is which…

 Saturated Fats
Polyunsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated Fats

Full Cream Dairy 

Sunflower Oil

Canola Oil

Fatty Meats & Lard

Nuts & Seeds

Almond Oil

Coconuts & Coconut Oil

Soybean Oil

Walnut Oil

Palm Oil & Palm Kernel Oil

Safflower Oil

Olives & Olive Oil

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Sesame Oil

Peanuts & Peanut Oil

Cottonseed Oil

Avocados & Avocado Oil

Be sure to eat more unsaturated fats and eat saturated fats only in moderation (preferably the plant variety).

Also, know your sources whenever it's a packaged product to ensure that there are no chemical preservatives or chemicals added to the natural product.

Learn more in Cancer-Causing Chemicals In Supermarket Foods

The bottom line to the fat equation is that if you're filling your diet with unprocessed and unrefined foods from nature's table - including an abundance of natural fats from cold pressed plant oils - you're going to be doing the best for your cells and health.

Learn more in Top 7 Reasons To Embrace A Plant-Based Diet & How To Do It

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