4 “Bad” Fats You Should Be Eating

The Dead Golfer Capsule

The low-fat era of the 1980s and 1990s seems to continue to have some knock-on effects, especially with regard to the entire fat family. Reminder, don’t be afraid of fat!

In addition to carbohydrates and protein, “fat is an essential macronutrient that plays several important roles in the body

Plus, fat plays an important role in boosting brain power: “The brain is 60 percent fat, so fat consumption is important for cognition and memory,” she adds.

“Fat provides flavor and satiety to our meals,” Stewart explained. You can maximize your health benefits by choosing the optimal amount and the right kind, she says: “Eating healthy fats has been linked to reduced chronic inflammation, brain health, cardiovascular health and a stronger immune system.

Is fat bad for you?

All foods that contain fat calories contain a mix of different types of fat, Stewart says. They fall into one of three categories.

  • Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils. These fats are usually solid at room temperature because their chemical structure includes carbon molecules saturated with hydrogen atoms.
  • Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, too, due to their molecular makeup. According to Stewart, they come in two types: monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), both of which play beneficial roles in supporting our health.
    • Mufa “has done extensive research to validate the positive effects on cardiovascular health, gut health, and inflammation,” Stewart said. You can score them by macadamia, olive, avocado, olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, and peanut oil.
    • Polyunsaturated fatty acids “have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and protect against cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases,” Stewart noted. You may hear these broken down further into omega-6 (linolenic acid) and omega-3 (EPA and DHA). Get your dose in walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, soybean oil, and canola oil.
  • Trans fats can be found naturally in a few foods but used to be mostly found in some processed foods and fast foods, which included vegetable oils in ways that made them more self-stabilizing. These added trans fats have been phased out after being banned by the FDA.

So how do you determine which fats to eat and which to limit?

As mentioned, research supports the fact that moderate amounts of unsaturated fat can be a boon to your body, amounting to around 20 to 25 percent of your total calories from fat. Think of experts giving the green light to these.

The yellow light goes into saturated fats; proceed with caution, but definitely don’t avoid them at all costs, Harris-Pincus and Stewart agreed.

According to a 2023 article in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, saturated fat has been controversial in the research community and public conversation for years, and is viewed by many as “bad fat,” Stewart said. . “But it’s actually an important part of our health at the cellular level.

Fatty acids (saturated and unsaturated) form the structure of our cell membranes, allow cells to flow, allow nutrients to enter cells, and channel waste products out. Some studies have hinted that very high saturated fat intake is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, but other studies have called this theory into question . As experts continue to learn more, find a happy medium with the goal of following the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendation of up to 10 percent saturated fat from saturated sources. Your doctor or dietitian may also recommend limiting saturated fat more if you have any current heart health risk factors, a family history of heart disease, or a previous diagnosis of high cholesterol.

Trans fat is the only fat we turn on a red light.

“Artificial trans fat is one type of fat that we absolutely want to steer clear of because it’s been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and other inflammation-related diseases,” Stewart said.

Because the science was so strong about the health hazards of these artificial trans fats, the FDA announced in 2015 that food manufacturers had to eliminate trans fats from their diets by 2020. The amount left in the food system should be sparse, but trace amounts may still be in circulation.

“One of the best ways to circumvent this harmful fat is to read the ingredient list, avoid products that list partially hydrogenated oils in products such as cookies, pies, cakes, biscuits, and avoid fried foods, as they are often found in foods that contain fried in trans fat oil,” Stewart said.

4 Types of “Bad” Fats You Should Be Eating

After being reminded that nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and avocados — the common “good fats” you’re probably familiar with — are still your best bets, Stewart and Harris-Pincus share their picks for the best-unsuspected fats. Love and underutilized fats, they eat them in moderation (and advise clients to do the same).

whole egg

Don’t throw egg yolks! Eggs, including the yolk and white, are high in protein and some fat, a mix of macronutrients that support muscle mass and sustained energy.

“Eggs also contain healthy doses of vitamins and minerals like choline, vitamin D, iron, zinc, and B vitamins,” Stewart says, nearly all of these micronutrients are hidden in the yolk. “This winning combination will support immune health, brain health and fight inflammatory conditions.

While eggs do contain cholesterol, dietary cholesterol consumption does not appear to directly affect cholesterol levels, Harris-Pincus said. As a result, she says, “for most people, no more than one egg per day will do.

full-fat dairy

According to a review in the International Dairy Journal, 65% of the world’s population by 2023 is dealing with some degree of lactose malabsorption (the type of sugar naturally found in dairy products) that you still want to avoid as much as possible. But for those who can consume milk without digestive discomfort, dairy has a “unique nutritional profile,” Harris-Pincus said. And you don’t need to stick to skim milk, nonfat yogurt, or fat-free cheese.

“Whole milk is a great source of protein and provides various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, calcium, potassium and magnesium,” she explains.

Compared with their non-dairy peers, men who ate the most saturated fat from dairy sources had heart disease, high-density lipoproteins and triglycerides, according to a study published in the March 2022 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Esters are less risky.

Aim for a total of three servings of dairy per day (1 cup of yogurt, kefir or milk, 1 ounce of cottage cheese, cup of shredded cheese). Mix and match whole, low-fat and non-fat if desired.


While we never recommend that you deviate from cooking and finish with olive oil, avocado oil, or other preferred methods, butter (in baked goods, for spreading) and its clarified cousin ghee certainly have a time and place. Nothing beats the rich flavors both offer. Additionally, ghee and butter contain butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid known to support gut health and reduce overall inflammation, according to a 2021 article published in Gut Microbes.

“An added benefit of butter and ghee is that they provide 13 percent of your daily intake of vitamin A in just 11 tablespoons. Vitamin A supports our immune system and eye health,” says Stewart.

Stick to 1 tablespoon or less per day.

coconut oil

As a staple of ketogenic diets, paleo diets, vegan diets, etc., “coconut oil tends to wear a ‘health halo’ and although it is a vegetable oil, it is high in saturated fat and has been shown to potentially raise ‘bad’ cholesterol levels of LDL,” Harris-Pincus said. In the meantime, “there is some evidence that coconut oil can raise ‘good’ HDL, although more research is needed.

Coconut oil contains a type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which has been shown to help people who use it manage their weight, reduce insulin resistance, and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, Stewart added. Another study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods in 2022, showed that consumption of MCTs can benefit the gut microbiome and metabolic health.

Until you know more, give it a try every once in a while, but don’t use it on every oil occasion, advises Harris-Pincus.

“If you like the taste of coconut oil, feel free to use it in moderation in your cooking—but not because you think it’s inherently healthier than other oils, like monounsaturated olive, avocado, or canola,” says Dr.

Fat is an important macronutrient that contributes to meal satisfaction and flavor, while potentially supporting health and longevity. While unsaturated fat should be the most prominent source of calories from fat in the diet, most people can enjoy saturated fat in moderation.

You might even get some health benefits from some of the previously spread “bad” fats, including butter, ghee, coconut oil, full-fat dairy, and whole eggs.


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