Good Fat vs Bad Fat: What’s the Difference? What do you know about Fats? Can Fat affect your health? I hope to provide some answers to these questions in this article.
Fat is a nutrient. It is crucial for normal body function, and without it, we could not live. Not only does fat supply us with energy, but it also makes it possible for other nutrients to do their jobs.
Fat consist of a broad group of compounds and are usually soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water.
In this article, we will explain the difference between good fat vs bad fat and what foods contain them.
Fats are called a range of different terms:
- Oils – any fat that exists in liquid form at room temperature. Oils are also any substances that do not mix with water and have a greasy feel.
- Animal fats – butter, lard, cream, fat in (and on) meats.
- Vegetable fats – olive oil, peanut oil, flaxseed oil, corn oil, for instance.
- Fats or fatty acids – this refers to all types of fat. Commonly referred to as those that are solid at room temperature.
- Lipids – all types of fats, regardless of whether they are liquid or solid.
Lipids are an essential part of the diet of all humans and many types of animals.
Types of Fats
There are several different types of fats, and we’ll take a look at these below:
Saturated Fat is Bad Fat
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are sometimes called solid fat. They are saturated, meaning that each molecule of fat is covered in hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats increase health risks if a person consumes too much over an extended period.
A large intake of saturated fats may eventually raise cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The highest levels of saturated fats are in meat (mammals), meat products, the skin of poultry, dairy products, many processed foods, such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, and chips, as well as coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.
A healthy diet includes less than 10 percent of its calories from saturated fats. That said, research shows it is never recommended to replace saturated fat intake with refined carbohydrates or sugar, as this worsens health.
Examples of healthy replacement foods would be nuts, seeds, avocado, beans, and vegetables.
Unsaturated Fat is Good Fat
Unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are liquid at room temperature. They are mostly derived from plant oils and are “good” fats:
Monounsaturated Fats (good fat)
Monounsaturated fat molecules are different than saturated fat – each fat molecule has only the space for one hydrogen atom.
They may lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein) bad cholesterol, and keep HDL (high-density lipoprotein) good cholesterol at higher levels. But, unless saturated fat intake remains low, cholesterol levels may remain unchanged.
Many health professionals, however, say that these fats might still reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease. For instance, the Mediterranean diet, a well-researched and chronic disease-risk lowering diet, is full of monounsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats are in olives, olive oil, nuts, peanut butter, and avocados.
Polyunsaturated Fats (good fat)
In polyunsaturated fats, there are some spaces around each polyunsaturated fat molecule – they have fewer hydrogen atoms.
Nutritionists say that polyunsaturated fats are good for our health, especially those from fish, known as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels and possibly inflammation. Healthcare professionals say omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may also help reduce the symptoms experienced by people who have arthritis, joint problems in general, and some skin diseases.
The other type of polyunsaturated fats is omega-6 fatty acids. They are in vegetable oils and processed foods. An excessive intake of omega-6’s, which is common in the standard American diet, may lead to increased inflammation.
Polyunsaturated fats are in oily fish (sardines, mackerel, trout, salmon, and herring), safflower, grapeseed, soybean, and sunflower oil. Nuts, seeds, and pastured eggs can also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Trans Fat is Bad Fat
Trans fat does not naturally occur. Trans-fats is an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more substantial. They are also known as partially hydrogenated oils.
Trans-fats are not essential for human life, and they most certainly do not promote good health. Consuming trans fats increases LDL cholesterol level and lowers levels of HDL cholesterol. Trans fat raises the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke about three times higher than other fats.
Furthermore, trans fat intake is associated with 50,000 fatal heart attacks each year and may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Experts say that trans-fats from partially hydrogenated oils are worse for your health than naturally occurring oils.
Trans fat has become popular because food companies find them easy to use and cheap to produce. They also last a long time and can give food an excellent taste. Trans fat is used many times in commercial fryers used in fast food outlets and restaurants. Several cities and states, including New York City, Philadelphia, and California, have banned or are in the process of banning trans fats.
Trans fats are in fried foods, such as French fries, doughnuts, pies, pastries, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, stick margarine, shortenings, packaged foods, fast foods, and many other baked foods. Furthermore, if the nutritional labeling includes partially hydrogenated oils, it means that food has trans fats.
The American Heart Association says that consumption of trans fats should not exceed 5-6 percent of total calorie intake, though any amount, even if small, increases risk.
Final Thought on Good Fat vs Bad Fat
Therefore, the take-home message is that not all fats are equal. Furthermore, staying informed and reading the labels can help individuals make good dietary choices, and replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats and fibrous plants.
I hope you found this article helpful and inspiring. If you have anything that you’d like to share or any opinions on any of the content on my site, please do speak up. I look forward to your comments, questions and the sharing of ideas.