Getting to know fats: Are they all bad?

Fats are important to maintain good health.

Also known as fatty acids or lipids, fats are made up of molecules joined together which is essential in giving benefits to the body. Fats need to be consumed in small and regulated portions. Large amounts of consumed fats may lead to health risks such as weight gain, resulting in overweight and obesity.

Types of Fats

Not all fats are created equal. They differ in components and effects on the body. Fats have three main types and are found in the food that we eat.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are found in animal-based products such as dairy including full-fat milk, cheese, and butter. It can also be found in the fatty cuts of beef, pork, chicken meat, and other animals. Aside from animals, saturated fats are also present in products that are plant-based. This includes palm oil, coconut milk, and margarine.

Great amounts of saturated fat relate to the increased risk of developing heart diseases and high blood cholesterol levels.

Unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fats are dubbed as good fats. They are what the body needs for a healthy function. These fats reduce health risks such as heart disease. It also lowers cholesterol levels as a replacement for saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats have two types—polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Examples of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 fats which are found in fish and are good for brain health and development. The other is omega-6 fats which are found in some oils such as sunflower and soybean oil and are good for the heart.

Meanwhile, monounsaturated fats are found in olive and canola oil, avocados, and some nuts, such as cashews and almonds.

Trans fats

Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been processed. Trans fats are commonly found in processed and packaged food. Products that have ingredients of butter and margarine usually contain trans fats. Thus, trans fats are mostly present in cakes, cookies, pizza, and other enticing snacks and delicacies. Studies show that trans fats are linked to increased levels of bad cholesterol resulting in heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.


There is a myriad of health benefits from fats. Fats can help in absorbing vitamins in the body like Vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also keeps the skin healthy and well-nourished. Healthy fats like Omega-3 are essential for heart health. This type of fat helps in lowering levels of a certain blood fat (triglyceride) and raises levels of good cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are also linked to decreased inflammation and help in weight loss.

What experts recommend

Again, large consumption of fats may lead to health risks such as weight gain. According to the World Health Organization, total fat intake should only be 30 percent or less of the total caloric intake. Saturated fat should be less than 10 percent while trans-fat should be less than one percent. Thus, experts recommend maintaining a diet that is low in saturated fats and trans fats and moderate consumption of unsaturated fats.

They also highlight the importance of reading the labels of every food product you intend to consume. Food packaging contains nutritional labels that indicate whether the product has trans fats or not.

In maintaining great health, remember to always seek the recommended intake and not go overboard.