Fat is a macronutrient required in our diet. Previously I wrote about the other two macronutrients, protein in the Importance of Protein and your Weight Loss Goals, and carbohydrates in What are carbohydrates?

Fats are important for energy, organ protection, skin health, and helping other nutrients do what they need to do. Without fats we could not live, but they are also what is killing most Americans. In order to understand why this is we need to understand the different types of fats.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and when consumed in excess they can lead to cardiovascular disease.

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats, which are considered “good fats”, are liquid at room temperature. There are two kinds of unsaturated fats, mono and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats are found in olives, olive oil, nut oils, and avocado. Polyunsaturated are found in fish, eggs, and some nuts. Polyunsaturated have omegas, like omega-3, in them which may help with reducing joint inflammation, increase brain function, and reduce cholesterol levels.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are a man made product. They do not occur naturally. Trans fats are NOT essential for living, quite the opposite in fact.

Trans fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL), decrease good cholesterol (HDL), and increase the risk of diabetes.

They are found in fried foods, processed and prepackaged foods, margarine, and shortening. Trans fats are used because they are cheap. If the label says partially hydrogenated oil anywhere on it then it contains trans fats.

Take Home Message

So, the take home message is that we should not be afraid of fats, just the wrong kind of fats. Always read labels and limit the amount of trans fats to a minimum, or better yet, not at all.