What are Good Fats and Bad Fats?

So which fats are good, and which are bad?


Saturated Fats


Saturated fats originate from animal sources and are typically solid at room temperature. They have all been given a bad wrap recently because they have been known to increase LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) thereby increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. However, not all Saturated fats are bad for you. For example, coconut oil is 90% saturated, but is not bad for you! Most vegetable based oils are low in saturated fats however, be aware of palm oil (50% saturated) and coconut oil (90% saturated).


Sources of Saturated Fats:

Fatty meat and chicken (especially skin)

High fat processed meats and sausages

Deep fried food

Full fat dairy products, milk, cream, butter and cheese

Solid frying fats

Cakes, biscuits, pastries, pies



Of course, there is a huge difference between the healthiness of chocolate and the healthiness of meat! Meat and its fat including chicken skin is not bad for you! It may include saturated fat, but that’s not automatically a problem because it is natural!

Chocolate and cakes etc are of course an unhealthy version of saturated fat, although everything in moderation right?


Polyunsaturated Fats


Polyunsaturated fats are found in a variety of plant and animal-based foods, and are generally liquids at room temperature. They tend to lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but may also lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol. These fats are further classified into two groups: omega three (?-linolenic acid) and omega six (linoleic acid) polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega three and omega six fatty acids are classified as essential fatty acids because they are required by the body to maintain good health.


Omega three fatty acids are found mainly in fish and seafood, and can decrease the stickiness of blood, reducing the risk of clots. Omega three fatty acids have also been found to assist in prevention and treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Foods rich in omega six fatty acids include safflower, sunflower, corn, soyabean and cottonseed oil. Omega six is also found in meat, so most people usually consume adequate amounts. Most Australians however, do not consume enough omega three fatty acids, hence if you eat two fish meals per week, this may reduce the risk of suffering heart disease. When using polyunsaturated fats in the diet, use them instead of saturated fats. The following table shows some of the main sources.


Sources of polyunsaturated fats:

Vegetable oils

Soy products

Polyunsaturated margarine

Nuts (e.g. walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts)

Seeds (e.g. pumpkin, safflower, sunflower, sesame)

Fish and seafood (e.g. salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring)


Monounsaturated Fats


Monounsaturated fats can assist to lower cholesterol levels without reducing HDL cholesterol levels as well. Studies have found that people who cook with olive oil have a reduced risk of heart disease, and the most well known group of people are those in Mediterranean countries. Olive oil is also rich in natural antioxidants, which may further reduce the risk of heart disease. Beware however, that clever marketing may be confusing when shopping; you may see some oils labelled as “light olive oil”. The “light” may not refer to calories or fat levels, but to texture, colour or taste!


Sources of Monounsaturated Fat:

Olives and olive oil

Canola oil, macadamia nut oil


Nuts (e.g. peanuts, almonds, cashews)

Peanut butter


Do I need to Reduce Fat Intake in the Diet?

Good wholesome fats are not troublesome in the diet, for example, nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil are actually beneficial to your health. Reducing processed or takeaway type fats will certainly benefit your life.

Avoid “low fat” options of dairy and snack bars because you will find they have a higher concentration of sugar which is more harmful. Wholesome fats increase satiety which ultimately reduces unnecessary snacking.

Remember, we still need the good fats in our diet, so don’t cut out fat altogether! Just be sure to eat the good fats in moderation and reduce the unhealthy saturated fats.



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