Fat is an important part of a healthy diet and a rich source of energy that produces more than double the amount acquired from either carbohydrates or proteins.
It is also a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K—which are fundamental to maintaining good health.
The problem is, not all fats are the same! The key to following a healthy and well-balanced diet it is not to exclude fats completely but to choose the good ones over the bad.
Unsaturated fats are considered good because they help keep the heart healthy and lower cholesterol, thus promoting good health overall.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats fall under this category and are identified when at least one carbon atom within the fat cell is linked to a hydrogen atom through a double bond (in polyunsaturated fats multiple double bonds are present). These fats tend to be liquid at room temperature and include: olive oil (one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fats), sunflower oil, corn oil and rapeseed oil.
Saturated fats on the other hand can increase cholesterol levels which may then lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and other serious health complications.
Saturated fats contain only single bonds between the hydrogen atoms and carbon atoms within the fat cell.
These foods are usually solid or semi-solid at room temperature and include: lard, butter, hard cheeses, whole milk, animal fats as well as palm and coconut oil.
Trans fats are created through an artificial hydrogenation process used to solidify oil for use in margarines or to improve a product’s shelf life.
These are the worst types of fats: nutritionists and dietitians strongly recommend they be consumed as little as possible as they are believed to increase incidence of heart disease.