Fat Facts

There are four major types of fats:

  • Monounsaturated fats – good

  • Polyunsaturated fats – good

  • Saturated fats – not so good

  • Trans fats – very bad




Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.


Monounsaturated fat

Polyunsaturated fat

  • Olive oil

  • Canola oil

  • Sunflower oil

  • Peanut oil

  • Sesame oil

  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)

  • Nut butters – especially almond

  • Soybean oil

  • Corn oil

  • Safflower oil

  • Walnuts

  • Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds


  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)

  • Soymilk

  • Tofu


Saturated fats and trans fats are known as the “bad fats” because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol.   Not all “bad fats” are completely unhealthy.  Some fats, such as whole-fat dairy products are a good source of calcium and protein and can have positive health benefits when consumed in moderation.  Appearance-wise, saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature (think of butter or traditional stick margarine), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of olive or corn oil).

Saturated fat

Trans fat

  • High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)

  • Chicken with the skin

  • Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)

  • Butter

  • Cheese

  • Ice cream

  • Palm and coconut oil

  • Lard

  • Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough

  • Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)

  • Stick margarine

  • Vegetable shortening

  • Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)

  • Candy bars



What can I do to improve my dietary fats?

So you realize you need to avoid saturated fat and trans fat… but how do you get the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats everyone keeps talking about?

The best sources of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish.

  • Cook with olive oil instead of butter, margarine, or vegetable oil

  • Eat more avocados.

  • Eat nuts for snacks and you can add them to your cooking and salads.

  • Try olives which are high in healthy monounsaturated fats and they are a low-calorie snack when eaten on their own.

  • Make your own salad dressing.  Store bought dressings are often high in saturated fat or made with damaged trans-fat oils.  Create your own healthy dressings with high-quality, cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, or sesame oil. Link to http://fw.to/syKOLoY for recipe

  • Refrigerate your oils especially the polyunsaturated ones (flax) and keep in opaque container

  • Cook on low heat because high heat damages the fat.

  • Don’t use oils, seeds, or nuts when they smell  or taste rancid

  • Take an Omega-3 supplement – good for the heart and brain, anti-inflammatory

Reduce saturated fat

  • Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and more fish and chicken

  • Choose lean meat, and stick to white meat, which has less saturated fat.

  • Bake, broil, or grill instead of frying.

  • Remove the skin from chicken and trim as much fat off of meat as possible before cooking.

  • Avoid deep fried foods, especially if they are breaded.

  • Use liquid vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of lard, shortening, or butter.

  • Avoid cream and cheese sauces.

Sources of Saturated Fats

Healthier Options


Olive oil


Low-fat or reduced-fat cheese

Red meat

White meat chicken or turkey


Low-fat milk or fat-free creamer


Egg whites, an egg substitute (e.g. Eggbeaters), or tofu

Ice cream

Frozen yogurt or reduced fat ice cream

Whole milk

Skim or 1% milk

Sour cream

Plain, non-fat yogurt


Eliminate Trans fats from your diet

A trans fat is a normal fat molecule that has been twisted and deformed during a process called hydrogenation. During this process, liquid vegetable oil is heated and combined with hydrogen gas. Partially hydrogenating vegetable oils makes them more stable and less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturers—and very unhealthy for you.

No amount of trans fats is healthy.  Trans fats contribute to major health problems, from heart disease to cancer.

Sources of trans fats

  • Commercially Baked goods – cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and some breads like hamburger buns

  • Fried foods – doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells

  • Snack foods – potato, corn, and tortilla chips; candy; packaged or microwave popcorn

  • Solid fats – stick margarine and semi-solid vegetable shortening

  • Pre-mixed products – cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix

Read your labels! – Be a trans fat detective

  • When shopping watch out for “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients. Even if the food claims to be trans fat free, this ingredient makes it suspect.

  • With margarine, choose the soft-tub versions, and make sure the product has zero grams of trans fat and no partially hydrogenated oils.

  • When eating out skip fried foods, biscuits, and other baked goods.

  • Avoid fast food. Most states have no labeling regulations for fast food,

  • Ask your server what type of oil your food will be cooked in. If it’s partially hydrogenated oil, run the other way or ask if your food can be prepared using olive oil, which most restaurants have in stock.