Fat is a type of nutrient that our body requires for energy and to process specific vitamins and minerals.

In the last decades, you can see that many of the grocery stores have been stocked with a variety of fat-free and low-fat food products.

Because fat is high in calories, eliminating it may seem like a good way to manage weight and improve health.

Unfortunately, instead of fats in many of these food products, you will find added sugars and refined carbohydrates.

That adds up to a lot of extra calories with little to no nutritional value.

What are Dietary Fats? Should We Really Avoid Fats in our diet?

There are different types of fats. It is important to know that a certain amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy diet.

A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself.[1] 

Any fat that’s not used by your body’s cells or turned into energy is converted into body fat. Likewise, unused carbohydrates and proteins are also converted into body fat.

  • Fats from the diet are essential for energy production and for supporting cell growth.
  • Fats protect the organs and help keep your body warm.
  • Fats help your body absorb some nutrients like fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E and produce important hormones.

What are the different fatty acids?

Dietary Fats

Most fats and oils contain both saturated and unsaturated fats in different proportions.

Saturated fat

Solid at room temperature. Saturated fat found mainly in meat, butter and dairy products.

Foods high in saturated fats:

  • Fatty cuts of meat.
  • Meat products, including sausages and pies.
  • Butter, ghee and lard.
  • Cheese, especially hard cheese like cheddar.
  • Double/single cream, soured cream and ice cream.
  • Some savoury snacks, like cheese crackers and some popcorns.
  • Chocolate confectionery. 
  • Biscuits, cakes and pastries.
  • Palm oil.
  • Coconut oil* and coconut cream. 

Science has no clear message regarding the health effects of saturated fats. Keep your intake of saturated fatty acids low by replacing them with unsaturated fats and unrefined carbohydrates.[2]

Not all saturated fats are equal:

Coconut oil contains a unique composition of fatty acids.

The fatty acids are about 90% saturated. But coconut oil is perhaps most unique for its high content of the saturated fat lauric acid, which makes up around 40% of its total fat content, coconut oil also gives “good” HDL cholesterol a boost. [3]

Grass-fed beef products –

There are differences in nutritional quality between grass-fed and grain-fed cattle.

Grass-fed beef is considered to be a healthier option.

Grass-fed beef higher in precursors for Vitamin A and E, omega-3 fatty acids and CLA. [4]

Unsaturated fat

Liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fat comes mainly from vegetables, nuts, and fish.

Monounsaturated fats

fatty acids that have one double bond in the fatty acid chain, with all of the remaining carbon atoms being single-bonded.

Monounsaturated fats help protect our hearts by maintaining levels of good HDL cholesterol while reducing levels of bad LDL cholesterol.

Monounsaturated fats are found in:

Omega 9 &  Omega 7

Omega-9 fats are “non-essential” because our bodies can synthesise them from other things we eat, and we don’t have to depend on direct dietary sources.

The primary omega-9 is oleic acid, found in olive oil, peanut oil and sunflower oil.

The most common omega-7 fatty acid in nature is palmitoleic acid.

Rich sources include macadamia nut oil and sea buckthorn oil.

Polyunsaturated fats

There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6.

The body needs omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids – we must get them from our diets.

Omega 6 fats are found in vegetable oils.

There are two critical forms of omega-3: EPA and DHA.

Omega-3s are essential components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body.

DHA levels are especially high in the retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells.

Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands). [5]

These types of omega-3 fats are found mainly in oily fish, such as:

  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Trout
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts and flax seeds contain a precursor omega-3, ALA, which can be converted by the body.

Most of us are not getting enough omega-3 from the diet.

Omega 3 fatty acids are a healthy source of dietary fat that is essential to consume in our diet.

Dietary Fats

Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids of approximately 1 whereas, in Western diets, the balance ratio is 15/1-16.7/1.

Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.

Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In contrast, increased levels of omega-3 (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert suppressive effects.

A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is more desirable in reducing the risk of many of the chronic diseases.[6]

Supplementing of Essential Fatty Acid, Omega 3, is useful, especially for who concerns including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Concentration and memory support

There’s one bad fat that you should avoid: Trans fats.

Trans fats known as Trans fats / hydrogenated oils/ margarine have no nutritional value and are harmful to your health.

They’re often found in fried foods, processed snacks, and baked goods. Hydrogenated vegetable oil must be declared on a food’s ingredients list if present.

Trans fats are also found naturally at low levels in some foods, such as meat and dairy products. 

Like saturated fats, trans fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Saturated fats got a bad reputation. Then, food manufacturers decided to start using more unsaturated fats. They promote using margarine instead of butter, for example.

The use of unsaturated fats through the process of hydrogenation, which essentially alters the chemical structure of unsaturated fats and makes them more solid and long-lasting.

However, when unsaturated fat is hydrogenated, a new fat called trans fat is produced.

The food you should pay attention to its fat content – Fried, doughnuts, cookies, and crackers.

Trans fat rarely exists in nature and has been shown to be toxic to the body.

Not only does it increase levels of “bad” cholesterol, but it also decreases levels of “good” cholesterol.

Trans fat lowers “good” HDL cholesterol and raises the “bad” LDL variety.


The omega-3 supplements that include omega 6-7-9 are not necessary, because our diet is abundant in omega 6 and our body can produce omega 7 and 9.

I hope you find this post useful in understanding more about dietary fats. If you have any questions, please write to us here in the comments below or contact our nutrition clinic here.

[2] “Fats, Cholesterol, And Chronic Diseases – Eat for Life – NCBI ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235018/.
[3] “Daily Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil Increases … – NCBI.” 14 Dec. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745680/.
[4] “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant … – NCBI – NIH.” 10 Mar. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846864/.
[5] “Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Consumer.”, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/.
[6] “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 … – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12442909/.

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