Fats in the Diet
A lot of people think of fats as unhealthy, but the truth is our body needs fat. It is important to know the different types of fat and which ones are good for you body!
SATURATED FATTY ACIDS
All fatty acids are made up of carbon and hydrogen bonds with a carboxyl group at one end. Saturated fatty
acids do not have any double bonds meaning they are fully “saturated” with hydrogen and are usually solid at
Chemically, a saturated fatty acid looks like this:
Saturated fats are found in animal products like red meat and dairy as well as coconut oil and chocolate. The fat
we eat affects the LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels in our blood. Although LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” and
HDL is known as “good cholesterol”, these two things are actually proteins that carry cholesterol around our
bodies. LDL takes cholesterol to be stored in the cells and arteries. HDL takes cholesterol to your liver so your
body can excrete what it does not need. Triglycerides are stored in your body to be used later as energy. In
addition to the triglycerides your body gets from fat you eat, it also makes them from carbohydrates in the diet.
When carbohydrates or saturated fats are consumed in excess, your body stores the extra triglycerides as
Saturated fat increases LDL (bad cholesterol) and should be limited in the diet. Some types of saturated fats,
however, also increase your HDL (good cholesterol) and lower triglyceride levels therefore, a modest amount of
saturated fats is acceptable in the diet. It is recommended that less than 7% of total calories come from
Trans-fats are found naturally in small amounts but the majority of these fatty acids in our diet are man-made
through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation occurs when hydrogen is chemically added to an
unsaturated fat, like vegetable oil, to make it more solid. This practice is widely used in the food industry to
prolong the shelf life of food. Trans-fats can be “hidden” in processed foods like crackers, popcorn, baked goods,
and fast food. Like saturated fats, trans-fats increase your LDL (bad cholesterol). They also decrease your HDL
(good cholesterol) and increase your triglycerides. Trans-fats are strongly associated with increased risk of heart
disease and should be avoided in the diet.