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Good Fats vs. Bad Fats: Everything You Need to Know

good fat vs bad fat examples

Fats are a type of fundamental nutrients in our diet. Healthy fats are essential to maintain a hormonal balance and the health of our body.

Believing that all fats are bad is a thing of the past. However, distinguishing between the good and the bad may seem more complex than it seems.

This article analyzes which are the healthy fats that you should include in your diet, and what are the differences with the bad fats that you should avoid.

What are the healthy or good fats?

In choosing good fats, several parameters must be taken into account.

If they are saturated or unsaturated, their origin (vegetable or animal), and the length of their carbon chains and if they are Omega-3 or not.

As a general rule, it can be said that vegetable fats are healthier than animal fats. This is because their structure is more flexible and our body can process them better.

Healthy vegetable oils fall into this category: olive oil, chia oil, rapeseed, etc. In addition, coconut oil must be included, a type of saturated fat with a very particular structure that makes it possible to be included as healthy.

On the other hand, although most animal fats are considered bad. The Omega-3, found in high concentrations in fish are a type of healthy fat with extensive benefits for our body.

Examples of healthy fats: 

  • polyunsaturated vegetable oils – olive, canola, chia, avocado, etc.
  • omega-3 animals – fish oil, tuna, blue sea fish
  • medium chain saturated fat – coconut oil, MCT oil

trans fat

Bad Fats – What Are They?

Without a doubt, the first place among bad fats is led by trans fats. It is recommended that trans fats do not contribute more than 2% of total calories.

Trans fats are made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, and are found in foods like fast food, popcorn, and some bakery products. In addition, some ultra-processed foods contain them by processing palm oil at high temperatures.

The saturated fats are second in the ranking of bad fats. However, in this group it is not correct to generalize. For example, coconut oil is a saturated fat and is considered healthy. In fact, it is one of the best fats for frying.

Depending on the length of their carbon chains, they can be considered healthy or not. To follow a rule, it could be said that saturated fats of animal origin are bad, vegetables are good.

Examples of bad fats: 

  • trans fats – fried foods, processed foods,
  • long-chain saturated fat – butter, most animal fats
  • vegetable oils with excess omega-6 – soy, corn, etc.

Good Fats in Oils – Which is Better?

In the case of oils, to choose those with more good fats, the easiest thing to do is to observe the amount of unsaturations on the product label.

These are listed as polyunsaturated fats and unsaturated fats. The higher the polyunsaturated content the better.

This is the case with olive oil, canola oil, flax oil, and chia oil. An exception is coconut oil, which is saturated but healthy.

In addition, the relationship between Omega-6 and Omega-3 is another important factor to take into account. Eating an excess of oils that are high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3 is considered bad for your health.

Nuts contain healthy fats

The nuts are foods that have high content of monounsaturated fats. These types of fats are good, and these foods are also accompanied by healthy vitamins.

Also, nuts contain sterols. A type of molecule that contributes to the reduction of triglyceride levels. As well as reducing the risk of diseases associated with the heart. (4)

If you are looking to choose foods that contain healthy and not bad fats, you should include nuts in your diet.

Why do you have to eat healthy fats?

The first thing most people try to lose weight is to cut down on fat. They begin to eat only skim cheese; and low-fat milk.

This is not considered healthy behavior. While it is normal to make a direct relationship between the fat in food and the fat deposits in the body. This is an association that you must begin to eradicate.

In many cases, fat-free products are more negative in terms of nutrition than their “fat” counterparts. Since simple carbohydrates are usually added to these ; like sugar. These compounds are considered even more bad than saturated fat.

Healthy fats are necessary for: 

  • Achieve hormonal balance
  • Vitamin absorption
  • Health of the skin and other important organs

bad fat

Are animal fats bad?

Saturated fats of animal origin are mostly made up of palmitic acid. An acid with 16 carbon atoms.

In beef and yolks the figure reaches 20-25%. The excess of this type of fat in the diet is related to higher cholesterol levels, which could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. (2,3,4)

However, animal fats, despite their origin, should not be considered as all bad fats. In some cases, such as in the case of Omega-3 fish oils, these fats are healthy and better absorbed.

SUMMARY

Healthy fats and oils should be a fundamental component of the diet and should not be eliminated, even with the goal of losing weight.

As a general rule, unsaturated fats of vegetable origin are healthier than saturated fats of animal origin.

Health exceptions: omega-3 fatty acids and coconut oil.

Healthy fats contribute to the proper functioning of metabolism, vitamin absorption, and hormonal regulation.

  1. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, Source
  2. Palmitic acid mediates hypothalamic insulin resistance by altering PKC-theta subcellular localization in rodents. Source
  3. Saturated Fat: Part of a Healthy Diet. Source
  4. An examination of the evidence supporting the associ-ation of dietary cholesterol and saturated fats with serum choles-terol and development of coronary heart disease. Source
  5. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. Source

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