Fats: The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Health Canada


Health Canada- states, unsaturated fats (plant-based) are good and saturated (animal-based) are bad.

The good: unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fat is a type of fat found in the foods you eat. Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fat also provides omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Choose foods with unsaturated fat as part of a balanced diet using Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.

Even though it is a “good fat,” having too much unsaturated fat may lead to having too many calories. This may cause weight gain and increase your risk of developing obesitytype 2 diabetesheart disease and certain types of Next link will take you to another Web site cancer.

There are two main types of unsaturated fats:

  1. monounsaturated fat, which can be found in:
    • avocados
    • nuts and seeds (like cashews, pecans, almonds and peanuts)
    • vegetable oils (like canola, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame and sunflower)
  2. polyunsaturated fat, which can be found in:
    • fatty fish (like herring, mackerel, salmon, trout and smelt)
    • fish oils
    • nuts and seeds (like cashews, pecans, almonds and peanuts)
    • vegetable oils (like canola, corn, flaxseed, soybean and sunflower)

The bad: saturated fats

Saturated fat is a type of fat found in food. It has been shown to raiseLDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Having high LDL-cholesterol levels increases your risk for heart disease.

Saturated fat is found in many foods:

  • animal foods (like beef, chicken, lamb, pork and veal)
  • coconut, palm and palm kernel oils
  • dairy products (like butter, cheese and whole milk)
  • lard
  • shortening

Choosing lower-fat meat and dairy products can help reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet.

Use vegetable oil or soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats instead of butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening.

The ugly: trans fats

Trans fat is made from a chemical process known as “partial hydrogenation.” This is when liquid oil is made into a solid fat.

Like saturated fat, trans fat has been shown to raise LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, which increases your risk for heart disease. Unlike saturated fat, trans fat also lowers HDL or “good” cholesterol. A low level of HDL-cholesterol is also a risk factor for heart disease.

Until recently, most of the trans fat found in a typical Canadian diet came from:

  • margarines (especially hard margarines)
  • commercially fried foods
  • bakery products made with shortening, margarine or oils containing partially hydrogenated oils and fats (including cakes, cookies, crackers, croissants, doughnuts, fried and breaded foods, muffins, pastries and other snack foods)

If a product has less than 0.2 grams of trans fat AND less than 0.5 g of saturated fat, the food manufacturer can say that the product is trans-fat-free. Learn more about nutrition claims.

Our food supply is rapidly changing and the trans fat content of many of these products has now been reduced. But it is still important to look at the Nutrition Facts table to make sure the food product you are buying has only a little or no trans fat.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s