What Is Good Fat and Which Foods Are Rich In It

Today, we’re going back to basics and talk about fats. Specifically what is so called good fat, why is it good, how its different for bad fat and where to find the good fat.

Fats are a confusing minefield that we all struggle with. We read about good fats that are good for your heart or was it health and not heart? and bad fats that are definitely bad for your heart, which brings us to good cholesterol and bad cholesterol that has something to do with blood and heart attacks, and trans-fats and omega-3 fatty acids, etc.

The list of fats is long. We’re bombarded and surrounded by these terms on a daily basis and today, we’re going to focus on this minefield and hopefully clear it out.

It’s important to understand fats and rebuild our relationship with them – a lot of our health problems come from this ruined relationship. Fats are important and not a bad thing to be feared of, as long as they come from the right source.

 

Why we shouldn’t be afraid of fat

Fat has been demonized for quite some time, we even use it as an insult. However, fat is an essential part of our body. We cannot live without fat.

Let’s strip it down, and look at the very basics:

  • what is fat in our body,
  • which fats should we eat and which avoid and
  • where to find good fats.

 

Fat is another form of energy in our body. It’s also a vitamin carrier – nearly 1/3 of vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they’re carried around our body by fat – vitamins A, D, E, K.

Fats provide cushioning for our organs, and its also part of the building block for hormones.

Around 60% of our brain is made of fat.

We definitely need fat but we became to fear it, simply because the fat balance in our diet isn’t right. We’re still eating to little of vegetables and fruits and too much of refined carbohydrates and refined and saturated fats. I know you’ve heard this before but that’s the rock solid truth and a problem that prematurely sends 11 million (that’s equivalent to the population of Georgia, USA) to their food-health issues related death.

bad fat in our diet

The different types of fat

There are 3 types of fat:

  1. saturated,
  2. unsaturated and
  3. trans-fats.

 

Let’s start with the saturated fat. The Bad Fat, which is linked to a blood raised cholesterol. NHS says, you shouldn’t have more than 10% of your overall daily intake as saturated fat. The average Western diet person consumes roughly, double that if not more (20%).

You can find saturated fat mainly in animal products. Items like meat, dairy, sausages, bacon, eggs, etc. but also in coconut, which is why vegans and plant based people should be careful and use coconut oils and butter in moderation.

Saturated fat is solid at room temperature.

 

Then, we have unsaturated fat or Good Fat. They branch in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. And I admit, this is where things get a chemical. But fear not, you don’t need to know about mono- and poly- fatty acids to know how to tell good fat from bad one.

good fats

 

First of all, the key is in the word “UNsaturated“.

Unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature.

 

To summarize, you have saturated fats, which you don’t want much of because they are harder to break down. And then you have unsaturated fats, which are easy to break down.
This is where the good fats and bad fats term comes from.

  1. Good fats = unsaturated fats, easy to break down, found in plant foods.
  2. Bad fats = saturated fats, difficult to break down, found in animal produce and coconuts.

 

The last type of fat we should touch on is trans-fats. They’re also considered bad fat.

Trans-fats are any ultra-processed oils:

  • refined, cooking vegetable oils,
  • oils use for deep frying,
  • shortenings and margarine,
  • you find low levels of trans-fats in meat and dairy.

Basically, trans-fats are usually found in processed foods. The good news though, is that a lot of supermarkets try to aware their costumers of these fats and so its getting much easier to spot it on the ingredient label when shopping.

 

Where to find good fats

Good fats come from plant based sources.

  1. Mono-unsaturated fatty acids are found in avocado, nuts and seeds.
  2. Poly-unsaturated fatty acids are when we talk about the famous omega-3-fatty acids and these are important because our body cannot make enough of it and you need to get it from food.

sources of Good Fats

 

You can find the poly-unsaturated fatty acids in oily fish, eggs, milk, some yogurts..but they’re broken down into different parts. In short, you have EPA and DHA.

DHA is the important part that helps the brain. DHA is really, really important part that can help you protect your brains against neuro-degenerative disorders.

The combined EPA and DHA help your heart. They help your heart stay healthy and function longer. There’re lots of research done on this, showing that omega-3 fatty acid help to decrease risks of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia and heart attacks if the person already eats a balanced wholefood, mostly plant based diet. If a person eats a standard Western diet heavy in animal produce and low on fiber and nutrients, then the omega-3 cannot do its good work on its own (Source: NutritionFacts.org).
Not enough of people are getting their omega-3, so that’s one good fat that you definitely want to look at.

Let’s touch a bit on the cholesterol

I want to talk shortly about cholesterol to get a bigger picture of why we should eat good fat and avoid bad fat.

High cholesterol is a very big health problem and since medication for lowering cholesterol doesn’t work all that much, a lot of people turn to diet in order to get their cholesterol under control.

Cholesterol is not all that bad as long as it’s under control. In fact, cholesterol is a fat that is vital for our body. It’s made by the liver, its found in some foods as well and is carried around in our blood by protein, called lipoproteins. Fat protein.

You can remember it by liposuction, lipo means fat, suction we know.

These lipoproteins come in 2 different categories. The 2 categories is what you look at when you go check your cholesterol level at the GP. So its important to understand what your blood test results mean.

 

You have your:

  1. High Density Lipoproteins, HDL. They carry protein around and you want a lot of this HDL, the good cholesterol. And
  2. Low Density Lipoproteins, LDL, which you don’t want much of, the bad cholesterol.

The reason for this is the HDL carries things to the liver to be metabolized, which is good.

On the other hand, LDL carries it to the cells. If there’s too much of LDL in your blood it will start accumulate on your arteries walls, and this is when you potentially start to notice chest pain, heart problems, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

cardiovascular disease

In general, since our body makes it’s own cholesterol, any type of cholesterol that we consume is a bad cholesterol that will increase our levels.

Bad fats or saturated fats, found in animal sources increase your LDL.

Conclusion

That’s the breakdown of your good fats. I hope its now clear that we should eat fats found in plants and avoid fats from animal produce.

Good fats, also called unsaturated fats are found in plant foods, such as seeds, nuts and avocado, oily fish and are easier to break down than fats found in animal produce – bad fats.

Good fats increase your HDL cholesterol and lower your LDL cholesterol, which shows in better health of brain, heart and overall well-being.

We need fat and we shouldn’t be afraid to eat is as long as it comes from the right source. Instead of snacking of chips and fries, have a hand full of nuts. This way, you’ll get good fats in combination with fiber and other goodness packed in it.

If you want a long-term health benefits that comes from a diet, increasing your wholefood intake and limiting animal products is the best option. Lots of people that did their own research on healthy eating switched to it and are enjoying their food. Sure, changing your diet takes some time and adjustments but it’s easier than you think.

 

 

If you liked what you’ve read, please leave a comment bellow so we can chat some more. Your comment help to push this post so more people can read it and find the info they were looking for.

You can also find me on social platforms, under the “Rudimental Pantry”..just click that FB icon below and I’ll talk to you soon.

I love hearing from you guys.

Till next time,
Katya

16 thoughts on “What Is Good Fat and Which Foods Are Rich In It”

  1. Excellent article and it shows that fat is definitely not the enemy when consumed in the right manner, and ditto for cholesterol. I’ve always stated many of us fear fat because it contains twice as many calories in a gram as a gram of carbohydrate or a gram of protein. However, the fact that good fats are good for heart health should motivate people into eating more fats in their diet as the fat scare is still alive and well in many places across America. It’s all about finding that nutritional balance, and that includes fat. 

    Reply
    • Wise words Todd. Instead of drowning our food in cooking oil, we should cook food in vegetable broth and add a handful of nuts to our meal to get fats, snack on almonds and cashews instead of chips and use lets say extra virgin olive oil on our salads and throw in another handful of pepitas and pumpkin seeds..and that’s it, that’s sufficient amount of fats.

      I often remember dr. Ormish words: “Standard American Diet stand for SAD diet.”

      Katya

      Reply
  2. Hello Katya, you’ve done a great job up here and has really enlightened my knowledge concerning the concept if fat. I am among the people with the view that fat should be avoided at all cost due to the health detrimental effects that it had on us but then, reading through this post, my misconceptions have been cleared. The good fat is actually nutritious and beneficial to our health but trying all possible best to avoid fats gotten from animals, which is detrimental to health. I’ll do a good job to share this out to more people in order to enlighten them on this concept. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi RoDarrick, we absolutely need fats. They have important role in our body and fats, like the rest of the food we eat literally becomes us, so we should be more careful what fats we consume. Healthy and nutritious source of fat are seeds and nuts, nut butters (preferably homemade), avocados, etc.. Surprisingly coconut oil got a healthy fat tag but I can’t see why – it’s a saturated fat and so should be avoided or limited to a minimum. 

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  3. Wow!  Excellent article!  It is one of the best ones I’ve read that explains the different fats in such easy to understand language, thank you.  I’ve always wanted to know why they call it saturated and unsaturated and where the heck trans-fat comes in, so this was very useful. I have to admit, I’m bad at consuming saturated fats.  But not a ton of it, thankfully!  Thanks again for the awesome article.

    Reply
    • Hi Jade, thank you for leaving your comment. I think we’re all confused about fats, carbs and protein..maybe not so much protein, but definitely fats and carbs. 

      We started to look at food through nutrients, vitamins etc. instead of just focusing on real food itself. It’s like you’d consciously need to think about moving your left foot and your right foot to walk and then your right arm and left arm to match the pace..plus breathe in, breathe out, blink, etc. It’s complicated to try and match everything we hear and read. 

      If you want to know a little more about how saturated, unsaturated and trans fats are build, and why we call them this way, I have a post about this as well – here 🙂 

      Xo,

      Katya

      Reply
  4. Hello kayltya, this is a really good post about fats. I think you have written this well. Everyone doesn’t like the word fat, it brings goosebumps. We believe fat is associated with over weighed people ho have bad eating habits. Now I know that there are good fats that can help my system and that we produce cholesterol regularly and we don’t need externals. This post is educative.

    Reply
  5. Great article! I love good fats especially avocados, they are my favourite food, I can eat them every day. I’m not so good at keeping away from bad fats like cooking oils. What else do you fry or cook with? Otherwise, in general, we try to have a healthy balanced diet. I try to keep my kids away from processed foods as much as I can and more importantly I try to educate them about healthy eating. Slowly I think the message will internalise. 

    Reply
    • Hi Hollie, avocados are the best 🙂 I’m positive kids will grow into healthy eating since you put effort in it, it matters to them because it matters to their mom.

      I have to admit I’m not a shining example when it comes to oil-free cooking. I actually have a teaspoon next to the extra virgin olive oil I cook with and this teaspoon is how much fat I use.

      Otherwise, to keep you food from sticking to a pan, any liquid will do the job – water, vegetable stock, wine. I’d recommend stock and wine, because they add great flavour to the food.

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  6. What a very enlighting article. You are right to call it a minefield. But I think you summed it up very clearly. Fats are necessary for our diet and knowing the difference between good and bad ones should be known by all. I used to eat whatever I wanted when I had the metabolism to burn most of the fat I consumed away. However, now the less active I have to watch the type of food I eat. This is an article I will refer back to. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Fats are tricky because for example, with saturated and processed fats (the Bad guys) you don’t see or feel them work against you until it’s already pretty bad. You can check your heart or arteries while taking shower and see if everything is ok.. 

      I’m glad to hear you take notice of the food you eat, I’m sure you’re doing a great job!

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  7. Wow! I feel i know everything about the good and bad fats, cholesterol and their sub categories already after reading thus article. This is one of the best articles i have read. The use of simple diction to teach on the values and demerits of fats and their kinds. I have really learnt a lot and my intake of saturated fats needs to be greatly reduced. I am a lover of beef and chicken and I think I need to pay more attention and focus on unsaturated fats to avoid health issues or unwanted diseases. Thanks once more for this amazing and life saving post.

    Reply
    • Hi Willy, thank you for leaving your comment. I’m super glad you found it useful and easy to understand 🙂 Makes my day 🙂

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  8. I read your site and thought about my ton of notes on all the types of bad fats vs. good fats. You have some valuable stuff posted here that’s good for diabetic and high cholesterol patience. They should pay attention to what you’ve written. Is peanut butter considered ‘good fat?’ I like peanut butter or sliced apple for a night time snack. I love bacon and cheese, but I know that’s loaded with saturated fats (bad stuff). What I can’t understand is why all the food that’s bad for you, taste the best?  

    Reply
    • Hi rjkennedy, I’ll start with your last question because it’s easy to answer – they taste good because they were designed to taste good..and I’m afraid that’s pretty much all are good in 🙂

      Saturated and processed fat is a major contributor to diabetes and cholesterol problem! Because of the fat that we eat children as young as 10 yo already show traces of cholesterol in their arteries. It’s so important to educate yourself and your kids about the food we eat. 

      Then to the PB, there’re mixed feeling about PB and I think a lot of it comes from a poor quality PBs – cheap peanut butter is made from peanuts that weren’t good enough to pack as peanuts. SO the quality matters. I’d also say a little goes a long way. If you don’t spoon out half a jar in one go, a good PB is actually healthy. I’m just looking at my jar, and although it has a low amounts of saturated (bad) fat, it also contains high amounts of good fat, fiber and protein. 

      Cheers,

      Katya

      Reply

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