Fats, Fats, Fats, It's Confusing!


Back in the old days, the cardinal rule was ‘eat to survive’. It was a simple rule—if you eat, you will live. As long as you have food, you will be alright. But that was way back then when medicine was not as advanced as we have it today. As the field of medicine advanced exponentially, and doctors and scientists were able to study and understand the human body better and better, the rule of ‘eating to live’ changed.

Today, the rule of eating to live is still true, but it has evolved. It’s now ‘Eat, but watch what you eat to live longer’. This simply means, ‘you better know what you’re putting in your mouth if you want to have a longer life’.

This brings us to focus on fats in foods. When you go to the supermarket, and you check out any food product you will most likely see the words like Fats, Trans Fats, Unsaturated Fats, Monounsaturated Fats, or Polyunsaturated Fats. You see these words everywhere it’s actually quite confusing.

We’ll break it down and make it simple. If you see the letters ‘UN’ before ‘saturate’ this means this is GOOD fats. If you don’t see the ‘un’, then it’s BAD for your health. Now, don’t worry about seeing the words ‘Mono’ or ‘Poly’ in front. These just distinguish between one ‘double bond’ (mono) and more than one ‘double bond’ (poly), as well as the melting points of these fatty acids. You just need to see if it has the ‘un’.

These fats have effects on the body and cardiovascular health, so you will want to really watch what you eat.

Here are samples of these fats:


Monounsaturated Fats/Monounsaturates:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Olive, canola, and peanut oils
  • Avocados
  • Non-hydrogenated margarines

Polyunsaturated Fats/Polyunsaturates:

  • Fattier fish
  • Canola and soybean oils
  • Flax seeds
  • Non-hydrogenated margarines
  • Walnuts


Saturated Fats/Saturates:

  • Full dairy products
  • Fatty meat
  • Butter
  • Coconut, palm, palm kernel oil
  • Cocoa butter

Trans Fats:

  • Ready-prepared food
  • Snack foods
  • Foods made with shortening or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils
  • Fast foods

Gaining weight is easy; just eat. What’s really hard is avoiding weight gain. And it happens, especially when there are parties and occasions to celebrate. Sometimes it’s just unavoidable. But what you should note is that if you’re going to gain weight, gain weight with foods that have these healthy fats. This is because recent studies have found that weight gain with unsaturated fats actually improved cholesterol levels despite the weight gain. It’s not the same for weight gain with saturated fats.

It was also discovered that the fats on a diet determined how much calories were stored in abdominal and liver fat. It showed that the excess calories—from high-calorie diets with unsaturated fats—were minimally stored as liver and abdominal fat. But the opposite happens with diets high on saturated fats.

It turns out that both types of fats have different molecular effects on the liver—unsaturated fats trigger the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood, while the opposite is true for saturated fats.

 Now you know what fats are good and bad for you, so watch what you eat. If you plan on celebrating and putting your diet on hold for a while, make sure you eat foods with unsaturated fats. After celebrations and binge eating, make sure you exercise to burn off all the calories you accumulated, and get back to a healthy weight.


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