Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan
What Are the Good vs Bad Types of Fat?
Published | 4 min read
Don’t be afraid of fat. Instead, learn about the different types of fat and how to make better food choices.
Confused? Don’t worry. This article will help you tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy types of fat in your food.
Saturated and Unsaturated Fat
There are two main types of dietary fat: saturated and unsaturated. This is also why the word “saturated” is used to describe fats that turn solid at room temperature, like lard. Unsaturated fat remains liquid at room temperature, like olive oil.
Diets high in saturated fats increase high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease.
According to dietary guidelines, saturated fats take up between
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat
Unsaturated fat falls into two categories – monosaturated and polysaturated. Both dietary monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are “good fats” because they tend to raise HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
This is the “good” cholesterol as it carries excess blood cholesterol back to the liver for proper remov
Omega fatty acids
Omega fatty acids are found in unsaturated fats. Omega-9 is the most dominant type of MUFA you consume in your diet and make in your bo
An easy way to incorporate more omega-3 into your diet is to take a drink made of oats and flaxseeds.
Trans fat is also a type of unsaturated fat. Trace amounts found in nature, such as dairy products and meat, are safe. However, consuming industrial trans-fat found in foods like margarine, fast foods and processed foods is linked to adverse health effects.
Too much trans fat can increase the risk of
Why Do We Sometimes Crave Fat?
You may think you’re craving french fries or ice cream, but your body is trying to tell you that it needs more healthy fats. Additionally, not getting enough fibre, vitamins, and minerals through vegetables and fruits can upset your gut flora.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), specific organ imbalances are linked to cravings for certain flavours or types of food. For example, the Spleen and stomach are associated with obsession, the psychological drive behind food cravings. A craving for rich, fatty foods also indicates an imbalance related to your Liver or gallbladder.
The solution — a balanced diet! In TCM, a common guideline is to eat a meal with all the five flavours
- Sweet (stomach, Spleen): Fruits, sweet potatoes, sweet vegetables like carrots
- Salty (Kidney, bladder): Saltwater fish, seaweed, soy sauce, miso
- Pungent (Lungs, large intestine): Ginger, garlic, onion
- Sour (Liver, gallbladder): Pickles and vinegar
- Bitter (Heart, small intestine): Dark chocolate, radish, bitter gourd
Ultimately, healthy eating is less about nit-picking over the types of fat in your food and more about balanced nutrition. Stop fearing fat and understand it as a macronutrient serving different bodily functions. The key is going after healthy fat sources and ensuring you get all the macronutrients and micronutrients you need in your diet.
Did you find this article on fat helpful? Share this with someone who needs to know about dietary fat.
This is an adaptation of the article “脂肪类型大解读– 哪一种最健康? (第一篇)!”, which first appeared on the Health123 website.
- The American Oil Chemists’ Society. 2022. Is it time to reconsider the role of saturated fats in the human diet? [online] [Accessed 14 February 2023]
- LiveScience.com. 2022. Is saturated fat bad for you? [online] [Accessed 14 February 2023]
- Multi-Disciplinary Publishing Institute (MDPI) – Nutrients. 2018. Inflammation, not Cholesterol, Is a Cause of Chronic Disease. [online] [Accessed 14 February 2023]
- Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2021. Mechanism and Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine Against Obesity: Prevention and Treatment Strategies [online] [Accessed 14 February 2023]
- FoodInsight.org. 2020. Oh My Omega: The Difference Between Omega-3, 6, and 9. [Accessed 14 February 2023]
- LifeExtension.com. Food Cravings: Causes, Triggers & Myths. [online] [Accessed 14 February 2023]
- AcuFinder.com. Curb Food Cravings with Oriental Medicine. [online] [Accessed 14 February 2023]
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