Q + A TUESDAY | WHAT ARE 'GOOD' AND 'BAD' FATS?

Fat is a macronutrient (along with protein + carbs) that we need to be healthy. Fat is a slow burning fuel for the body. Unlike carbs, which are quickly converted to and used as energy, fats take longer to break down and act as a reserve source of energy.  Fat helps the body absorb nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. It helps regulate hormones and provides a layer of protection for our cells and internal organs.

 Avocado on walnut bread with olive oil and crushed pistachio.  

Avocado on walnut bread with olive oil and crushed pistachio.  

Fat is an important part of a healthy diet, but some fats are nourishing to the body, while others are linked to conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol + heart disease.

‘GOOD’- UNSATURATED FAT

Unsaturated fat is found in plant-based foods like nuts and seeds, plant oils, and avocado. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (think of olive oil.) Unsaturated fat helps to raise good cholesterol levels and can prevent or treat a wide range of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. There are two types of unsaturated fats:

  1. Monounsaturated

  2. Polyunsaturated

Monounsaturated are considered most beneficial for lowering cholesterol, regulating insulin, and preventing disease, but both offer health benefits for the whole body. While these types of fats have many health benefits, it’s important to consume them mindfully as portion sizes are relatively small and add up quickly.

‘BAD’ - SATURATED OR TRANS FAT

Saturated fats are found in animal products (meat and dairy) as well as in coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature (think butter).  Saturated fats are known to elevate cholesterol levels + cause clogged arteries, which can lead to stroke and heart attack.

Trans fats are formed through food processing when hydrogen is added to plant oils to make them solid. Trans fats are found in processed foods like cookies, donuts, biscuits, and margarine. These are the worst fats for your health and should be avoided at all costs.

 

Compared to carbohydrates, fat from foods is very easily stored as fat in the body. Fat is the most calorically dense macronutrient, so it’s important to consume both types of fat in moderation (with ideally no animal product intake). Plant-based fat is crucial, and nothing to be afraid of, but it’s important to note that serving sizes are small

I hope you’ve learned something from the past few articles covering the 3 macronutrients (fat, carbs + protein). I believe everyone can benefit from learning more about how their bodies work and how to keep them healthy. Send me any questions you have and I will give you an answer!