Fats are a type of nutrient that give your body energy that it needs to function normally.
Fats also help your body absorb vitamins and help to keep your skin and hair healthy.
You need some fat in your diet but not too much, and not all fats are the same. Read this simple guide to learn more about good fats and bad fats.
Types of Fat
There are 3 types of fat to consider:
- Saturated fats
- Unsaturated fats
- Trans fats
1. Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are known to raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level. Research has shown that High LDL cholesterol can put you at risk for heart attack, stroke and other similar health issues. A diet high in saturated fat increases cholesterol build up in your blood vessels.
Foods with saturated fats are typically animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, cream and fatty meats. Some vegetable oils (coconut, palm and palm kernel oils) also contain levels of saturated fats.
2. Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats can help lower your LDL cholesterol. There are 2 kinds of unsaturated fats:
- Monounsaturated fats:
Olive, canola and peanut oils, avocados, non-hydrogenated margarines, nuts (such as almonds) and seeds.
- Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fats):
Safflower, sesame, sunflower and corn oils, non-hydrogenated margarines, nuts, seeds, fish, canola and soybean oils, flax seed, walnuts.
3. Trans Fats
Trans fats (trans-unsaturated fatty acids, or trans fatty acids) are a type of unsaturated fats that form when saturated fats such as vegetable oil harden in a process called hydrogenation. These hydrogenated fats (“trans fats”) are often used to keep certain foods fresh for a longer period of time.
Trans fats are often used for cooking in restaurants. They can raise LDL cholesterol levels in your blood and they can also lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.