The Skinny on Fats

by Steven Carney on September 3, 2012

Dietary fats are important for health, energy and cellular function, but not all fats are equal. Many people don’t know the important differences in fats or which ones are best. Not only do fat compositions vary greatly, but their effects on metabolic function and health can run the spectrum from deadly to healthy!

Worst to best fats list

  • Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils). A manufactured fat, made by mixing hydrogen gas, a metallic catalyst and veggie oils like corn or soy oil. They are highly inflammatory and atherosclerotic. Can raise LDL cholesterol, lower HDL, and raise diabetes risk. Estimated to kill 30,000 people annually. Look for partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredient list and avoid them at all costs!
  • Polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils). Thought to be healthy for years but can be easily oxidized after digestion. Once oxidized, they trigger an internal immune response and inflammation; they contribute to atherosclerosis/heart disease.
  • Saturated fats (butter, cheese, meat, etc.). Amount of fat varies based on type of food. Red meat and butter are higher in saturated fat than chicken breast. Less inflammatory than trans fats. A few servings a day can be okay if your other fats are monounsaturated (especially yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.).
  • Monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, olives/olive oil). These come from plant sources. They are healthy fats and oils with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Omega 3 fats (DHA/EPA) from fatty fish like salmon, fish/krill oil, walnuts and flaxseed. These healthy fats also help to lower inflammation, a key component in many chronic health problems. Eat fish 3 times a week and/or take 1,000 mg of fish oil daily to help to maintain optimal brain and mood function, plus keep systemic inflammation under control.

New research indicates that different fats can have differing effects on the digestive tract and gut bacteria (see my previous post on Digestive Health for an overview). Trans fats and saturated fats are more inflammatory with fewer antimicrobial effects compared to monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil or omega-3 fats which have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.

In fact, trans fats and saturated fats can apparently feed bad gut bacteria. They promote more inflammation and depress immune function in the gut (where about 70% of your immune system exists). That process of chronic inflammation increases digestive problems and adds risk for a host of chronic diseases (see my previous posts as inflammation and chronic disease, such as heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc.)! So the avocados and olive oils have real health benefits and are the best source of healthy fats.

How much should I have?

Because we all need healthy fats in our diet for fat soluble vitamins, cell and metabolic function, etc., aim for a maximum of 50-75 grams of mostly healthy fats daily (depending on your size and metabolism), which is about 4-5 tablespoons for an average adult. Remember, it’s easy to get too much fat because fats are in dairy, cheese, sauces, meats, processed, and fried foods. It’s better to be a bit under and let your weight be a guide!

Questions or comment? Drop me a line or comment after this or any post. As a Health and Life Coach, I’m here to provide guidance and support as you begin your journey toward better health, longevity and overall success!

Helpful links:

This informative new article from December, 2013 brings out many health benefits for avocado:

I found this new article in 2/2014 about trans fats and how long it’s taking to get their deadly Frankenfood out of our food supply:

Great new article showing history and misguided info for fats with lots of ego and ambition included:


© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: