What's the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats?


You may think you need to completely cut fat out of your diet in order to eat healthy, but the truth is that your body needs dietary fat to function. Dietary fats give your body energy and support cell function, while body fat protects your organs and keeps your body warm. 

Which fats are healthy fats?
There are four major dietary fats found in food: saturated fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthy kinds of fats, while saturated and trans fats are the unhealthy kinds. 

Healthy fats lower your levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and raise your levels of "good" (HDL) cholesterol, while unhealthy fats raise your bad cholesterol levels. 

Here are some more ways healthy and unhealthy fats affect your health.

Healthy fats can:

  • Boost brain function
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Improve overall mood
  • Keep your skin and eyes healthy

Unhealthy fats can:

  • Increase your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Increase inflammation in your body 

You’ll find healthy fats in olive oil, olives, canola oil, nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, fish and more. 

Unhealthy fats are found in products like shortening, margarine, butter, French fries and processed foods like boxed mixes, cookies, chips and cakes.

How much fat should you eat?
Health experts actually recommend people get about 25 to 30 percent of their calories from fat. While fat is high in calories and eating too much of any kind of fat can be bad for you, eating a moderate amount of healthy fat can keep your body working smoothly and improve your overall health.

Including a small amount of healthy fat in every meal helps you feel fuller longer because fat digests slowly. Eating healthy fats in your meals may also help you eat less.

If you have more questions about how you can consume the right fats, contact one of the registered dietitians with Goshen Health Nutrition Therapy.