Understanding Saturated, Trans & Unsaturated Fats!
As we approach American Heart Health Month; start thinking about how fats may affect your body so that you can begin monitoring your intake and hopefully consider changing some of your unhealthy habits. Being conscious about what you place inside your temple is imperative to your longevity; therefore, take heed of what you are doing and how it impacts how you may feel now and what can occur down the road if change for the better is not made.
What is Fat?
Fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient; it provides 9 grams per gram compared to carbohydrates and protein, which both provide 4 calories per gram. Being mindful of how much fat intake you take into your body is beneficial in preventing heart disease and chronic inflammation, among other illnesses. Too many unhealthy fats can wreak havoc on the body. However, good fats are beneficial because they help the blood circulate properly throughout the body. Fat comes in three forms (1) unsaturated fats, (2) saturated fats, and (3) trans fats.
Not all fats are bad, there are unsaturated fats, that are helpful in vitamin and mineral absorption, hormone production, cell structure, feeling satiated throughout the day, and other critical functions within the body. There are two types of unsaturated fats, one is monosaturated fats and the other is polyunsaturated fats. These are fats that are liquid at room temperature and are healthier for the heart when eaten in moderation.
A diet filled with monounsaturated fats may be equivalent to the Mediterranean diet. These fats help to increase the good cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and decrease the bad cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and blood clotting allowing for better circulation throughout the body, especially in the arteries helping to avoid plaque buildup which often leads to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a serious condition that develops when plaque accumulates in the walls of the arteries over time causing it to block blood flow due to the narrowing occurrence. This can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, stroke or even death.
Monosaturated fats also help to lower blood pressure by placing it in the normal range (<120/80), decreasing inflammation, improving overall cholesterol, and lowering the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, or a heart attack, or stroke.
Foods: Avocados, olives, virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil.
This fat comes in the form of plant and animal foods, if eaten in moderation in place of saturated fats is more beneficial to the heart. Polyunsaturated fats help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol). Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful in the prevention or reduction of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), decreasing cholesterol and triglycerides levels(fat in the blood), high blood pressure, and inflammation throughout the entire body; an improvement of blood circulation occurs due to these declines. The 2020-2025 Dietary guidelines recommend keeping saturated fat at no more than 10% daily. In addition, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat consumption is between 25% to 30% of daily calories. (DGA)
Omega 3 can be obtained by eating fatty fish like salmon, sardine, and halibut. It is available in supplements too. Omega 6 is a fatty acid usually consumed in abundance and is often found in processed foods, corn oil, soybean oil, peanut butter, eggs, tofu, and hemp seeds. Some or too much Omega 6 has been found to cause inflammation and blood clotting. Omegas 3 and 6 together are essential fatty acids needed to live healthily. They can’t be made by the body, making it important to get them from food sources or supplements.
Foods: Nuts (walnuts), seeds, salmon, herring, flax seed oils, omega-3 fatty acids, chia.
This is one of the unhealthy fats that come from mostly animals, are often found in processed foods and some packaged goods foods too, so limiting it is quite beneficial to your health. This fat is solid at room temperature.
Cattle, goats, lambs, pigs, etc. meat and dairy are high in unhealthy fat that clogs the arteries which then leads to atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease and puts all at a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke if intake excessively. Here is where mindfulness is needed, a hamburger, gyro (beef or lamb), pernil (pork), a day will not keep the doctor away, it will instead have you need one often. A minimum amount of saturated fat, about once to twice a day, a week, is better than having such every day of the week, with each meal.
Foods: Bacon, biscuits, sausages, coconut, palm kernel, palm oil, burgers, tacos, burritos, ice cream, whole milk, cheese, butter.
This is a man-made partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil that offers a long shelf life and is more resistant to oxidation. Synthetic fats, like this one, can lead to increased levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and eventually cardiovascular disease, a form of heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in this country, excessive inflammation (chronic diseases eventually), clogged arteries can make the situation even worst and lead to a heart attack or stroke, so please be mindful of this when deciding what to consume daily. In the United States if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fats in a serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans fats. However, you as the consumer need to pay attention the label and look out for words like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, some manufacturers have gotten creative over the years to sneak trans-fat into food regardless of warnings because they are shelf stabilized fat that has a potentially for increase sales; in addition, this fat is inexpensive to make.
Foods: French fries, fried chicken, packaged goods, such as cookies and baked goods, dairy, margarine, red meat.
What can you do?
Being more conscious and knowledgeable about what you decide to put in your body is a great place to start when it comes to improving your health and understanding fats. Choose more plant-based meals that use unsaturated vs. the other fats, consume 2 to 3 servings of cold-water fish per week as protein or legumes instead of meat all of the time. Limit your dairy and meat intake as much as possible for most are composed with large amounts of saturated fat. Download one of our recipe guides, books or meal plans or contact us to see how we can set you up on a personal plan and/or educate you about what you may want to put in your body for optimum health. Read our blog post, find topics to enlighten your spirit to be a better steward of life towards yourself and those you love. You can do anything you put your mind to once you decide to have a plan and take action.
Inflammation, chronic disease, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, don’t just appear overnight, sometimes it takes months, years or even decades before signs or symptoms are brought to light and by then it can have caused some serious damage and disease to the body. Commit to making a change now while you still have a choice.
**Avoid heating any oil to the point it begins to smoke; it will begin to release carcinogenic chemicals and therefore should be thrown away. Please do not use it under any circumstances.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020 -2025 Edition (Retrieved on October 2, 2021) from:
Trans fat is double trouble for heart health (Retrieved on Oct. 1st, 2022) from: