The Role of Fats

Are All Fats the Same? Not at all. Here are some basics on the various types of fats to help you make sense of what’s best for your own body.

Monounsaturated Fat: Monounsaturated fats are at the heart of the highly touted Mediterranean diet. These types of fats are associated with promoting healthy cardiovascular function. Olive, canola and high heat sunflower are examples of oils with high monounsaturated fat content.

Polyunsaturated Fat: Polyunsaturated fats include the ‘essential’ Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids. Since they serve as the building blocks from which cells are produced, they are often viewed as one of the building blocks of good health. Oils high in polyunsaturated fats include flaxseed oil, safflower and grapeseed oils.

Saturated Fat: Saturated fats appear both in animal foods and plant foods. Most of what we consume in the United States are artery-clogging, ‘long-chain’ saturated fats derived from animals. But plant-based saturated fats are made up mostly of ‘short- and medium-chain’ fatty acids which are thought to be a more “burnable” form of energy—the reason oils like coconut are popular with athletes. In general, a healthy diet should consist of no more than 6% saturated fat out of total fat intake

Trans-Fatty Acids: When it comes to fats, Trans-fats may well be our worst enemy. Trans-fats are formed during a chemical process called hydrogenation whereby cellular chains of fats are artificially altered to create a more solid, stable substance. The result is virtually impossible for our bodies to break down.