Is There Such a Thing as Good Fats and Bad Fats?

Is There Such a Thing as Good Fats and Bad Fats?

Tam Kipping

Is There Such a Thing as Good Fats and Bad Fats?

Were you raised being told that eating fat will make your belt buckle tighter?

And now we hear people say “eat the avocado, it’s a ”good” fat” But have you ever gone to shove something into your pie hole and wondered what all the fuss is about, not really knowing if it’s good or bad for you?

Sometimes fats get a bad rap. 

Apparently, all fats are not created equal and not all are bad for you. Some have considerable health benefits. It’s important to have some understanding of the differences so that we can decide for ourselves,  what  to avoid, and which ones feel right for us. 

Fats are an essential part of your diet in fueling your body for energy - in fact, they are just as important as carbohydrates and proteins in helping to do this job. 

Saturated & Trans Fats

Saturated and trans fats are the two least popular types of fats to date. 

The views on Trans fats have not changed. Trans fats can be found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. These include fried foods, margarine, baked goods - such as cakes, biscuits and pastries and processed snack foods.

Like saturated fats, trans fats can increase “bad” cholesterol in the body but it can also suppress “good” cholesterol levels. Trans fats can also increase inflammation in the body which increase harmful risks such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

It’s also important to know that food labelling laws allow companies to round down to zero and claim “no trans fats” if less than 0.5g of trans fat is detected in the product, despite still containing hydrogenated oils. Put down that cupcake!

Most saturated fats come from fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb and dairy products such as whole milk, butter and cheese. Other types of saturated fats include coconut oil, cocoa butter and lard. 

When the low fat diet / high sugar craze started, saturated fats started getting a bad rep. These were fats our great, great grandmothers used while cooking.  Beef Tallow was scooped off broths, and used for fry ups, duck fat was used to roast potatoes and butter was generous.


A Norwegian study (FATFUNC) performed in 2014 showed that while saturated fat has been thought to promote cardiovascular diseases by raising the "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood. But even with a higher fat intake in the FATFUNC study compared to most comparable studies, the authors found no significant increase in LDL cholesterol. Rather, the "good" cholesterol increased only on the very-high-fat diet.

"These results indicate that most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy," says Ottar Nygård.

You may have heard big words thrown around like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Mono-whaaaaat? These are GOOD fats too! These fats tend to be liquid when at room temperature. 

Monounsaturated fats are helpful fats that improve your blood cholesterol level and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. These foods include nuts, avocado and coconut oils, avocado and nut butters.  

Polyunsaturated fats are known as “essential”. The body can’t make this type of fat so needs to get them from foods. Plant based foods and oils are the primary source of this type of fat. While working like monounsaturated fat, and lowering blood cholesterol levels. A certain type of this fat - omega-3 fatty acids also improve brain and heart health including lowering blood pressure. Types of food that include the omega-3 fatty acid include salmon, herring, sardines, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil. In addition to this polyunsaturated fats can also be found in food containing omega-6 fatty acids including tofu, walnuts, seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame).

V. L. Veum, J. Laupsa-Borge, O. Eng, E. Rostrup, T. H. Larsen, J. E. Nordrehaug, O. K. Nygard, J. V. Sagen, O. A. Gudbrandsen, S. N. Dankel, G. Mellgren. Visceral adiposity and metabolic syndrome after very high-fat and low-fat isocaloric diets: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016; DOI: 10.3945/%u200Bajcn.115.123463