Types of Fats- Saturated, Trans, Unsaturated

For me,  writing on a regular basis is difficult as I was not gifted with the flow of words. I get a ton of thoughts in my head but when I go to write nothing comes out as I imagine. This is what separates me from real writers so I thank you for bearing with me. I planned to write about cholesterol for today's topic but as I started to organize my thoughts I realized I need to talk about a different topic first. This happens to me on occasion. I will never claim to be a pro on all topics but I will do my best to break down what I have learned and stay on a logical path so we can all have a better understanding. I realized I cannot write about cholesterol until I know we have a basic understanding of fat. Today I will discuss different types of fats, where they are found, and which is considered “good” and “bad” fat. This article will be followed up later this week with a breakdown of cholesterol types within the body, how these fats affect our cholesterol levels and what our numbers mean when we get blood work done.

Fats are nutrients that give you energy and help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats are either saturated or unsaturated, and most foods with fat have both types but usually there is more of one kind of fat than the other. Our bodies need fat for survival but we can make better choices, hopefully minimizing our over-indulgence and love for fatty foods when we understand the effect on our body.

Saturated fats- Our objective is to stay away saturated fats. When you cook meat and strain the fat you see as it cools it turns to a solid state. That is an example of saturated fat. Of course this fat often remains in the food we consume. It is mostly in animal food such as meat, cheese and milk. Fish and poultry have saturated fat but in smaller amounts. You will also find saturated fats in tropical oils such as palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. and in non dairy items such as creamer or whipped toppings. Picture shortening, margarine, butter...all solid state fats..all saturated fats...bad fats. Over time we have developed the skill of hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life of fat and makes the fat harder at room temperature. Full hydrogenation increases the amount of saturated fat.

Trans fats (trans-isomer) fall under the saturated fat category but are thought to be more harmful than saturated fats. Let's consider these the 'skull and crossbones” fats. Stay away! You will find trans fats in processed foods, cookies, chips and crackers, many salad dressings and foods made with partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats are made by a chemical process called partial hydrogenation. One would think partial hydrogenation shouldn't be as bad as full hydrogenation but it is worse. Liquid vegetable oil (an otherwise healthy monounsaturated fat) is packed with hydrogen atoms and converted into a more solid fat. This helps with better melting and crisping which we all tend to enjoy. Keep in mind, trans fats also increase triglyceride levels in the blood, adding to our risk of cardiovascular disease. Triglyceride is a form of fat that’s made in your body. Many people with heart disease, diabetes or both have high triglyceride levels.  

Unsaturated fat is in a liquid state at room temperature and is found mostly in oils from plants and vegetables. When you consume fats you should try to get your intake mainly from unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fat break down into two major types. Monounsaturated fat which is in vegetable oils, such as canola, olive, and peanut oils and polyunsaturated fat mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils. Polyunsaturated fat is also the main fat found in seafood. There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.


Sources of Saturated FatsHealthier Options


Olive oil


Low-fat or reduced-fat cheese

Red meat

White meat chicken or turkey


Low-fat milk


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

Ice cream

Frozen yogurt  

Whole milk

Skim or 1% milk

Sour cream

Plain, non-fat yogurt

All fats play a major role in our cholesterol levels so I hope I provided you with a basic understanding of types of fats. Try to choose smart fats for consumption. Your arteries will thank you. Please visit again next week for information relating to fats and our cholesterol. 








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