Are All Fats Bad

fats weight management Apr 24, 2023

Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD


Fat is made up of triglycerides. Our body is able to make up the fat that we need, but it is also important for us to consume omega 3 and omega 6 fats to obtain essential fatty acids. These are found in fish, nuts, seeds, and oils. Fat calories are more than protein and carbs. For every 1 gram of fat you get 9 calories.


Do we need fat? Yes. Fat helps us absorb our fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K), supports cell growth, provides energy for the body, protects your organs, and form insulation to help keep you warm. There are three types of fats found from food. Are they all still 9 calories per gram if some are healthier than others? Yes, they’re all still 9 calories per gram.


Unsaturated fat is your heart healthy fat group. You may hear the term monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated have 1 unsaturated carbon molecule. Olive, canola, peanut, safflower, and sesame oil plus peanut butter, avocados, and several seeds are monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats have a double bond. Sunflower, corn, and soybean oil plus walnuts, tofu, and sunflower seeds are examples of polyunsaturated sources.


Saturated fat is typically solid at room temperature. Are you thinking about shortening? These fats can cause heart problems and should be eaten in moderation. Saturated fats can be found in meats, butter, coconut, palm oil, ice cream, and processed foods.


Trans fat can come in 2 forms. Naturally-occurring which are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats. Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.


Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Trans fats can be found in fried foods, processed foods such as pastries, pie crusts, donuts, chips, and cookies.


The goal is more unsaturated fat in our lives and less saturated and trans fats. Enjoy healthy nut blends with walnuts and almons and pistachios or fatty fish such as salmon. 


Take it easy when it comes to saturated and trans fats. Per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 it is recommended we limit saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2. Let’s say we eat 1800 calories per day that’s 180 calories or 20 g total of saturated fat allotted in our day.


We need fat and it does play an essential role in our body for certain vitamins, insulation, and system functions. We just need to be mindful of the types of fats and the quantities we are consuming.

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