Good Fats versus Bad Fats

Low fat! No fat! Good fat! Bad Fat! What they hell? Sounds a bit like a milk commercial!

Fat can be a confusing subject, especially if you come from the low fat era of the 1970 – 80’s. This was when fat became our enemy and low fat products flooded the markets.

Marketing campaigns such as “Meadow Lea” and “You ought to be congratulated” were born in 1975, and were introduced for families to avoid the evils of butter.

“Rev” milk was introduced in 1978 and by 1989 reduced and low fat milk held 12.5% of total milk sales.

Fats have taken a bashing over the years and even being the accused culprit of rising obesity rates and prevalance of Type 2 diabetes.  It turns out that sugar is the culprit here and not fats.

Low fat diets have also been related to dementia and cognitive decline. The risk of dementia increases substantially if on a high carbohydrate, low fat diet according to “Dementia Australia”.

Fat plays a vital role in our health and it is required to build and maintain our cell membranes, which is important for our skin, hair, eyes, heart and brain. Fats help make certain hormones especially those involved with reproduction. In fact a sign of fat deficiency can be the loss of your menstrual cycle as the body needs a minimum of between 11-17% (depending on the individual).

Of course there are different types of fat which includes:

  • Unsaturated fats including Monounsaturated (MUFA) and Polyunsaturated (PUFA). Polyunsaturated oil includes the omegas 3 & 6.
    • Omega-3-fatty acids are found in oily fish, walnuts, evening primrose oil, flaxseeds
    • Omega-6-fatty acids are found in safflower oil, soybean oil, sesame seeds and hemp seeds
    • Monounsaturated oil includes avocados, olive oil, cashews and almonds.
  • Saturated fats includes Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). Saturated fats include products like butter, coconut oil (both considered MCFA), red meat and some processed foods
  • Trans fats – are actually unsaturated fats that have been processed. Trans fats are found in processed products like deep fried foods, commercial baked pies, pastries, cakes and biscuits. Spreads and margarines also contain trans fats. Trans fats act like saturated fat but are worse for you.

Saturated and Trans fats are the ones we need to be wary of. They can increase cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats actually help to lower cholesterol and therefore lead to better heart health.

Fat consumption should be around 25-30 percent of your daily calorie intake. Even if you are on a weight reduction program. Fat is high in energy density and can help achieve the feeling of fullness.

So don’t forget your fats! They are important for healthy function. Just ensure you are getting the right ones.

If you would like help with a nutritional assessment then book in for a consultation with me.



This article is authored by Jan Caton – Bachelor of Health Science – Naturopathy. Jan is the Director, Naturopath and Nutritionist at Magnolia Apothecary. Jan practices in the yarra ranges.

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