Confused about fats? You’re not alone. Here’s a brief description of the most common fats in our diet.
Monounsaturated Fat has one double bonded carbon in a molecule. It is found in both plant and animal products, such as nuts and seeds, canola, olive and peanut oils, as well as in beef tallow and lard.
Polyunsaturated Fat has more than one double bonded carbon in a molecule. It is liquid at room temperature and commonly found in plant foods such as walnut and sunflower seeds, corn, olives, peanuts, soybeans, and flax
Saturated Fats are carbon atoms literally saturated with hydrogen atoms. Animal sources such as meat, seafood, cheese and dairy products as well as tropical oils (coconut and palm oils) are highly saturated fats which are associated with raising Total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Trans Fats result from adding hydrogen to unsaturated vegetable oils. This food additive increases the shelf life of processed foods and also improves their texture (hardens them). These hydrogenated fats, even in very small amounts, raise Total and LDL-cholesterol levels. They are found in cookies, crackers, cakes, some margarines, and fried foods.
By eating more foods-as-grown simply prepared without all the oils and grease, we will get all of the fat we need for good nutrition and optimal functioning. Refined oils and animal fats represent the greatest concentration of calories per unit of weight. They are calorie-rich (120 calories per tablespoon) and nutrition-poor. Therefore, use mono and poly unsaturated fats in small amounts. But for optimal health, try to avoid saturated fats and especially those trans fats.