Good Fats, Bad Fats, and the Fats in Between: A Guide to Fats and Their Impact on Your Health

Hey Angels and Alphas,

With all of the information out there about fats, it’s hard to tell which are healthy and which you should avoid completely. What’s even harder is figuring out how to actually incorporate these fats into your diet in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re choking down something awful or detoxing for two weeks straight. Fear not! In this article, we explain what fats are, which are good and bad, and how you can use them to improve your overall health.

The Different Types of Fats

The term fat is often used as a synonym for unhealthy, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Fat can be healthy or unhealthy depending on which type you consume. There are four different types of fats, so it’s important to know which type of fat you’re eating and why it matters.

We’ll cover those four types below: saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and trans fats.

Monounsaturated fats are typically found in olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts (such as almonds), seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower), olives and other fruits that are high in fat content such as olives or avocado. Polyunsaturated fats are typically found in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna; soybean oil; corn oil; safflower oil; sesame seed oils; walnut oils; flaxseed oils; liquid plant oils from evening primrose seeds or borage seeds.

Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats

Fats are an important part of your diet because they are a good source of fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. The two main types of fats that we consume are saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats have been shown to increase your risk for heart disease because they raise levels of LDL cholesterol which is also known as bad cholesterol. In contrast, unsaturated fats can help reduce your risk for heart disease because they decrease levels of LDL cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Fruits are an excellent source of polyunsaturated fats, but also foods like almonds or avocados. Polyunsaturated fats can have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol. They are also instrumental in helping keep your heart healthy. You can find polyunsaturated fats in many different types of food, including vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, fish (mackerel is a great choice!), flaxseed oil, sunflower oil and olives.

Trans Fats

One of the worst fats out there are Trans fats, which were thought to be good for us because they helped keep food from going bad as quickly. The reality is that this type of fat is terrible for our health-it increases our risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions like diabetes. To avoid trans fats, steer clear of processed foods with hydrogenated oils or anything that lists partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils among its ingredients.

How Much Fat Should I Eat?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how much fat you should eat per day. However, experts typically recommend that 20% of your daily calories come from fat (so if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 400 calories would come from fat).

The American Heart Association recommends that you limit your saturated fats to less than 7% of total daily caloric intake while increasing your unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) to 10%. When it comes to cooking methods like frying or grilling with oil, choose canola oil or olive oil over butter or lard as they are lower in saturated fats.

The Bottom Line on Fats

There are three main types of fat you should pay attention to when it comes to your health – saturated fats, unsaturated fats (including monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats), and trans fats. Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature while unsaturated fat is usually liquid at room temperature. Trans fats are not healthy for your health because they interfere with cell function and can lead to inflammation in the body which can raise your risk for chronic diseases such as cancer or type 2 diabetes.

Healthy sources of saturated fat include high-quality animal products like grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, wild-caught fish like salmon, coconut oil or palm oil which also contain other nutrients that are good for you like lauric acid or plant sterols.