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Food for Thought: Understanding Fats

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Good fats? Bad fats? You will not find these terms on food labels. Instead you will see words like polyunsaturated and trans fats. This article will give you a brief explanation of the four types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats) and how they affect your body.

Understanding Fats

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are fats that stay solid at room temperature, such as lard, coconut oil and cow butter. Saturated fats are considered “bad fats” because they raise your bad cholesterol level, thereby raising your total cholesterol level. People whose diet consists of many foods high in saturated fats typically are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats have a lower melting temperature than saturated fats, which means that they do not stay solid at room temperature.  These types of fats can be found in: peanut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are fats that can stay liquid even at lower temperatures, such as corn oil and sunflower oil.  Polyunsaturated fats are also found in soybeans, fish, fish oil and in grain products. Dieticians consider polyunsaturated fats the “good fats” as they lower cholesterol and they help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering the amount of fat in the blood. 

Trans Fats

Trans fats are man-made fats that are created during the hydrogenation process.  These types of fats are unnatural and toxic to your body.  Trans fats are abundant in packaged and processed foods. Dieticians consider trans fats the “bad fats” as they can cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, low birth weight babies, and sterility.