Types of fat: The good and the bad

Fat is a nutrient. It is crucial for normal body function, and without it, we could not live. Not only does fat supply us with energy, it also makes it possible for other nutrients to do their jobs.

Fats, which consist of a wide group of compounds, are usually soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water.

In this article, we will explain the different types of fats, which are considered good and bad, and what foods they can be found in.

What are fats?

Fats are called a range of different terms:

Oils – any fat that exists in liquid form at room temperature. Oils are also any substances that do not mix with water and have a greasy feel.

Animal fats – butter, lard, cream, fat in (and on) meats.

Vegetable fats – olive oil, peanut oil, flax seed oil, corn oil, for instance.

Fats or fatty acids – this refers to all types of fat. However, fats are commonly referred to as those that are solid at room temperature.

Lipids – all types of fats, regardless of whether they are liquid or solid.

Lipids are an important part of the diet of all humans and many types of animals. Fat is stored in the body for many reasons.

Types

There are several different types of fats and we’ll take a look at these below:

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are sometimes called solid fat. They are totally saturated, meaning that each molecule of fat is covered in hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats increase health risks if a person consumes too much over a long period of time.

A large intake of saturated fats may eventually raise cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Where is saturated fat found?

bacon cooking
Saturated fats can be found in meat, including bacon.

The highest levels of saturated fats can be found in meat (mammals), meat products, the skin of poultry, dairy products, many processed foods, such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, and chips, as well as coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.

A healthy diet includes less than 10 percent of its calories from saturated fats. That said, research shows it is never recommended to replace saturated fat intake with refined carbohydrates or sugar, as this worsens health.

Examples of healthy replacement foods would be nuts, seeds, avocado, beans, and vegetables.

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Unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are liquid at room temperature. They are mostly derived from plant oils and are classed as “good” fats:

Monounsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fat molecules are not saturated with hydrogen atoms – each fat molecule has only the space for one hydrogen atom.

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