Foods contain different types of fat; some are good for your body and some are bad. For several years, doctors and nutritionists have researched the benefits of a low-fat diet. Research has proven a reduction in fat intake is key to weight loss, cholesterol management, and preventing many health problems.

We now know that it’s the type of fat consumed that makes your body healthy or unhealthy. Bad fats increase your cholesterol and chances of developing certain diseases. On the other hand, good fats help protect your heart and support your overall health. In fact, good fats such as omega-3 are essential for the body.

Four Types of Fat

Healthy Fats

Monounsaturated Fats
– monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)

Polyunsaturated Fats
essential fatty acids (EFAs)

– play a vital role in the functioning of our cells and the cell walls

– deficiency linked to disease such as: diabetes, heart disease and hypertension

Benefits:

Helps reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol (HDL).

Benefits:

Helps reduce bad cholesterol, lowering your risk of developing heart disease.

Food sources:
Olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil
Avocadoes
Non-hydrogenated margarines
Nuts and seeds

Food sources:
Omega-6 fats:
Safflower, sesame
Sunflower and corn oils
Non-hydrogenated margarines
Nuts and seeds

Omega 3 fats:
Canola and soybean oils
Flax seeds
Omega-3 eggs
Walnuts, pecans, pine nuts
*Cold-water fish – anchovies, haddock, mackerel, wild Pacific salmon, tuna and trout

*The best source of omega-3 is from fish. Omega-3s from vegetables and seeds are higher in alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), not Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). ALA needs to be converted in your body to DHA and EPA; this conversion means you won’t reap all the benefits of those good fats. Good fats from fish are higher in EPA and DHA. A good way to get fish oil is from a supplement; most of the fish oils on the market are processed through molecular distillation and should be free of and toxins and heavy metals (mercury).

In order to have a healthy functioning body, your omega-3s and omega-6s should be consumed in a 1:1 ratio. Unfortunately, because so much of what we eat is processed, there’s a great deal of corn in our diet and the animals we eat are fed corn and grain (rather than grass), our diets are usually unbalanced. Most people consume far too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3; on average, our consumption ratio is 15:1 (Omega-6: Omega-3).

Unhealthy Fats

Saturated fats
– typically solid at room temperature (i.e. the fat on your steak)

Trans fats
“partially hydrogenated oil”
– created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid

Detriment:
– raise blood cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke
– increase arachidonic acid, triggering inflammation, heart disease, stroke and cancer

Detriment:
– raise blood cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke

Food sources:
Palm, kernel, coconut oils

Beef tallow
Hydrogenated oils
Full-fat dairy products
Lard
Cocoa butter
Animal sources of protein

Food sources:
Partially hydrogenated soybean and canola oils
Junk food
Fast foods
Ready-to-eat-foods
Commercially fried foods and some bakery goods

Remember: not all fats are bad. It’s especially important not to cut out all fats since our bodies do need them, in particular for mental and physical functioning. Just be aware of which kinds of fats you consume, and try to increase your daily intake of omega-3s for better overall health.