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Healthy Fats and Oils and How to Know Which Ones to Chose

Fat is an essential nutrient. It plays a vital role in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K which are needed for healthy growth and development. Fat gives food flavor and provides satiety, and energy. It cushions the organs and is present in every cell membrane, it is also needed for proper brain function. Our bodies need fat to make hormones and to keep our immune system healthy. How much fat is enough? The American Heart Association recommends we limit total fat intake to 25% of our total daily calories.


SATURATED FATS: This kind of fat clogs arteries, elevates cholesterol and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.This fats are obtained mostly from animal sources and are solid at room temperature. Ex. Animal products, butter, lard, shellfish, whole milk, etc. The American Dietetic Association recommends we consume no more than 7% of our daily calories from this type of fat.

UNSATURATED FATS: This include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3 and 6). This are good fats since they lower cholesterol. This are obtained mostly from plant sources and are liquid at room temperature. Ex. Olive oil, plant oils, seeds,nuts,flaxseeds, hemp seeds, fish, etc.

TRANS FATS: This are formed by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats and turning them into saturated fats to increase their shelf life. Trans fats are the worse kind of fats, and should be avoided. They increase triglyceride levels in the blood, raise LDL's and lower HDL's, therefore increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This fats are found in processes foods. Ex. Cake, pizza, chips, crackers, cookies, etc.


1. Choose olive oil. It is high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fat, and it is delicious Drizzled over salads. Try choosing organic, extra virgin and first cold pressed when Possible. (First cold pressed refers to a method of extraction that uses no chemicals or heat). Remember that oils should be stored in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator to preserve freshness.

2. Experiment with different flavors by incorporating walnut, flax, pumpkin seed, macadamia nut and pistachio oils. Not only are they good for you but they enhance the flavor of certain dishes and keep salads interesting.

3. Swap commercial salad dressings with homemade ones by combining healthy oils with different vinegars and herbs.

4. Substitute whole milk products for low fat or skim, and choose cottage and edam instead of hard cheeses since they are lower in fat.

5. Replace butter and cream in recipes by using low fat Greek yogurt. Not only is it a good source of protein but it contains probiotics(beneficial bacteria).

6. Choose lean protein like white meat turkey, chicken fish and legumes. This are lower in fat than red meat.

7. Choose whole foods like raw nuts and seeds instead of processed and packaged foods. Your heart will thank you!

8. Remember that fats are high in calories so moderation is key.

9. Try avocado instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches, and in tuna and chicken salads, not only is it creamy and delicious but is a good source of lutein, potassium, and vitamins E, K and B.

10. Spread nut butters on toast instead of butter or cream cheese. Cashew, macadamia and almond butters are very nutritious since they contain protein and minerals and are great sources of monounsaturated fats.


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