Fast Facts On Fat The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

We have been inundated with the term ‘fat free' in the media, at the grocery store and in health magazines, leading us to believe that going fat free is the healthy route. Truth is, once fat is removed chemicals, sugars, refined carbohydrates and fillers are added to replace the flavour the fat once provided. Consuming fat is OK, even healthy, as long as you know the facts on fat and can distinguish the good from the bad and the ugly!

What does Fat-Free Mean

Fat free does not mean calorie free, nor does it mean eat as much as you like, or that this product is healthier that the full fat version. What is does mean is that the food has less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. It will generally contain fewer calories and can be used to replace higher fat choices, but using fat free foods as a license to eat more, will usually not work. The obesity rates for Americans has doubled in the last 20 years, the same time frame in which we have had this must eat ‘fat free' mentality. Clearly, fat free isn't working!

How Much Fat is OK
A healthy diet allows for 30% of your daily calories to come from fat. For the average person consuming 2000 calories per day, this would mean 600 calories or 66 grams of that can come from fat and still be a healthy diet (1 gram of fat = 9 calories). The key is to eat more good fats and less bad fats.

The Good

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the "good fats" because they reduce your risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and improve overall health.

Good monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocadoes, olives, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter. Good polyunsaturated fats are soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, soymilk and tofu.

The Bad

Saturated fats and trans fats are known as the "bad fats" as they lead to disease, increased weight and poor health. Saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature like butter or margarine, while the good fats tend to be liquid like olive oil.

Examples of saturated fats that should be consumed in moderation, if not avoided, include high fat cuts of meat like beef, lamb or pork, chicken with the skin on, whole fat milk and cream, butter, ice cream, palm and coconut oil, and lard.

The Ugly

Trans fats are just plain ugly and should not be a part of your diet as they contribute to major health problems from heart disease, weight gain, and clogged arteries to cancer. A trans fat is a normal fat molecule that has been deformed during a process called hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenating vegetable oils makes them more stable and less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturers but very bad for your health.

The primary source of trans fats in our diet comes from commercially-prepared baked goods and snack foods that have found their way to pantries and kids school lunches. Anything with the term "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients list, even if the food claims to be trans fat free, is never a healthy option. Trans fats can be hiding in the 'healthy muffin', the 'whole grain' cookie and even in some brands of vitamins, make sure you read your labels.

Trans fat foods to avoid include commercially baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes and pizza dough, in packaged snacks like crackers, popcorn, chips, cake mixes, pancake mixes and chocolate drink mixes, in fried foods such as french fries, chicken nuggets and breaded fish and in candy bars.

Simple Ways to Eat More With Less
Use olive oil in place of butter
Eat a handful of almonds in place of cookies
Add good fats to your salads like olives, avocados & seeds
Top salads with rice wine vinegar in place of prepared dressing
Omega 3 rich salmon or tuna in place of red meat
Choose beans and legumes to thicken chili and soups in place of ground meat
Enjoy raw or roasted veggies in place of deep fried
Bake whole grain, fruit filled snacks instead of buying packaged
Make your own breaded fish and chicken nuggets and bake instead of fry
Find healthy alternatives to 
salty, crunchy snacks - try kale chips or roasted chick pea's

Choose good fats more often, read ingredient lists carefully when considering choosing a fat free option and avoid the ugly trans fats always!


Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs on dozens of websites about Raising Healthy Kids and ensures her own have fun while eating healthy & staying active. To read more articles and see her favorite recipes starring squash and spinach that she promises even your kids will love, visit her websites www.iron-kids.com & www.adultgummies.com or visit her on Twitter @KidsGummyMum or Facebook at IronKids.Health and Adult Essentials.