A Complete Guide to Fats-Monounsaturated Fats, Polyunsaturated Fats and Trans Fats

By on April 15, 2015

One of the items that have been altered are oils and fats. Oils are derived from plants while fats are derived from animals. Oil and fats are essential in our diet but not oil and fat are good for health. Some are to be consumed in large quantities, some in moderation while some must be consumed in minute quantities.


complete guide to

Before, butter and lard were the leading oil and fat used in America. Butter was made from unpasteurized raw milk with no salt added, lard is the fat from animals. Most people got to know that lard was is a very harmful substance to the body, so it was out of favor. Butter is good for the body, but technology and manufacturing processes brought about a worse substitute than lard in place of butter, the substitute is margarine which is seen as butter to this ignorant generation and being promoted as being better than butter to all.

Types of Fats and What They Do To the Body

Fats add delicious taste and mouth feel to food, but at a huge and dangerous sacrifice if care is not taken. There are three categories of fats-monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fat!

Healthy and good fats (monounsaturated fats and omega-3)

There are good fats, the body needs good fat for healing. These fat should be included in our diet for health every day, they aid the health of the heart, brain, skin, hair and every part of the body. Good fat nourishes and strengthens the cell membrane. Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats are the only types of good fats.

A healthy balanced diet should include sources of the healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3). However, it’s not always easy to know where to find them or how to use them in meals. We all need a guide to using healthier fats in meals and snacks. It is necessary to include healthier fats-polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats-in our diet, and when used in place of unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fat) help to reduce the risk of heart diseases.


We need to note though, omega-3 a polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fats are the best fats to consume. Other polyunsaturated fats are needed in small quantities, they are essential for life. Polyunsaturated fats are to be taken with serious moderation, they are just ok fats and not all that good for the body when in excess. We need to limit the intake of these fats.

Sources of Monounsaturated fat

Foods such as avocados, almonds, cashews, peanuts and extra-virgin or olive oil that is cold pressed. Cooking oils made from plants or seeds such as sunflower, canola, soybean, olive, sesame and peanut oils are all sources of monounsaturated fat. Natural organic peanut butter, avocados, olives, macadamia nuts, almonds, raw nuts and seeds, unsalted, unroasted and unflavored nuts make a healthy snack any time of the day. It is advisable to go easy on nut and seeds at first in order not to upset your stomach.


Polyunsaturated fats are divided into two families; omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats. When polyunsaturated fats such as corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and others are used in cooking especially deep frying, oxidation occurs in these oils at a very fast rate. Oxidation also occurs in our arteries as free radicals attack the polyunsaturated fats which are carried in bad cholesterol. These oxidized cholesterol are much more prone to from plague in the arteries. As fats are broken down in the arteries through oxidation, they form substances that promote clothing of the blood and inflammation, thus making it difficult for blood to flow.

The sources of polyunsaturated fats are good but they tend to be dangerous by the time they get to the consumer through over processing. Inflammation is associated with heart disease, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

It is best to consume sources of polyunsaturated fats in small portions. Small portions of pecans, almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, walnut. To use vegetable oil as a source, they must be cold pressed and used in small amounts, small amounts of cold-pressed polyunsaturated fats-corn oil, flax seed oil, hemp oil, pumpkinseed oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil. Fish, pine nuts and brazil nuts are sources of polyunsaturated fats. Avoid hot-pressed oil as much as possible and use extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic oil pressed with garlic press in place of salad dressings.

Foods high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fat include oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel, along with walnuts and linseeds

Omega-3 as a polyunsaturated fat and a good fat

Omega-3 oils are a type of polyunsaturated fat. A healthy polyunsaturated fat that help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Omega-3 oils can come from marine, animal and plant sources. You should try to include omega-3 oils from all of these sources as part of a healthy eating pattern.


Omega-3 is basically found in sea/marine foods. Marine-based omega-3 is found primarily in cold-water oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel. Other fish, such as barramundi and flathead, and seafood, such as scallops and mussels, are also good sources of marine-based omega-3.

In addition, everyone should aim to include foods that provide them with at least 1 gram of plant-sourced omega-3 (alpha-linoleic acid) every day. Good sources of plant based omega-3 includes walnuts, linseed/flaxseed, chia seeds and oils such as canola and soybean. Eat more plant-based omega-3 found in nuts and seeds (particularly walnuts), flaxseeds (linseeds), and in oils or spreads made from soybeans, canola, nuts and seeds (particularly walnuts), flaxseeds (linseeds), hemp oil, soybeans and dark green vegetables

Animal Sourced Omega-3 are found in animal products such as eggs, chicken and beef. Getting a ration of omega-3 each week is so easy, including 2-3 serves of fish in your weekly eating plan is easier than you think.




Saturated Fats (healthy in small quantities)

Saturated fat is a type of fat in food. Due to its chemical structure, it is usually hard at room temperature. Saturated fats is primarily found in animal products. Foods high in saturated fats include most selections  at fast food restaurants-hamburgers, chicken strips; whole milk products, commercial fried foods and processed foods-cookies, cakes, doughnuts, pies and pastries; and in plant foods like palm and coconut oil.

Cured meat like bacon, sausage, ham, hot dogs, cold cuts, bologna, salami and pepperoni all contain saturated fats. Red meat, duck and goose meat are very high in saturated fats. Vegetable oils of coconut, palm kernel, and palm are extremely high in saturated fats.

These fats ought not to be completely avoided but limited intake needs to be put into consideration, they are good for the body when consumed in moderation. They help to enhance our immune system and allow calcium to be incorporated into our bones. Moderate amounts also protect the liver form toxins, helps prevent breast cancer and weight loss. For instance coconut oil is beneficial for weight loss only when it is limited to 1 tablespoon a day.

Why should I reduce saturated fat in my diet?

Currently, Australians are eating more saturated fat than the recommended intake of 10% of total energy intake or less. The Heart Foundation recommends for heart health that saturated fat be reduced to 7% of total energy. 

Saturated fat increases blood cholesterol, in particular LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ type). Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat reduces the risk of heart disease. 

According to the 2011/12 National Nutrition Survey, the top three sources of saturated fat in the Australian diet are:

  • Milk and dairy products (including foods like ice-cream)
  • Biscuits, cakes and pastries
  • Meat, and poultry (including processed meats)

It is advisable to limit foods like cake, biscuits, pastries, savory snacks called discretionary foods. Swap full fat dairy products for reduced, low or no fat dairy food, eat lean meat by cutting the fat out, and eat 2 to 3 servings of fish per week of about 4oog instead of chicken and meat.

Unhealthy Fats (killer Trans fats) 

Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that behaves like a saturated fat because of its chemical structure. They are bad fats, they kill. It increases our risk of heart disease by increasing the “bad” LDL cholesterol, while also lowering the “good” HDL cholesterol in our blood.
Naturally occurring trans fats are found in small amounts in dairy products, beef, veal, lamb and mutton.
Mainly trans fats are manufactured through industrial process by hydrogenating oil at high temperatures. During the hydrogenation process, the cheapest oils-soy, corn, cotton seed or canola are mixed with metal catalyst usually Nickel. The oil is then subjected to hydrogen gas at high pressure and temperature, the reactor forces the hydrogen through the hot liquid until it’s saturated. Emulsifiers are added and the oil is deodorized at high temperatures and steam cleaned. Adding hydrogen makes the liquid fat stay solid at room temperature.

A quick look at the chemistry of margarine

 Margarine is made by taking liquid oil and heating to high temperatures, then hydrogen gas is bubbled into it until it becomes hardened. Then it is bleached, filtered, and deodorized thereby resulting in an odorless, tasteless artificial fat. This is then promoted as butter. Margarine is a dangerous food in our time.

Margarine is dangerous because, the heating process changes polyunsaturated oil into a totally saturated fat which causes high cholesterol problems and clogs the arteries, reduced blood flow to the brain, heart, kidney and other parts of the body which can result in heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Margarine is very similar to lard, which the body cannot digest.

Quick tips for staying healthy with the right fats

  1. choose foods that have the Heart Foundation mark on the label
  2. Choose polyunsaturated and monounsaturated spreads wisely
  3. Choose lean meat trimmed of all visible fat
  4. Choose reduced, low or no fat dairy foods
  5. Try to limit the amount of fast foods and take-away meals including deep-fried and baked foods-biscuits, pastries, pies and cakes
  6. Avoid hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils




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