hand taking cell phone picture of healthy fats in salad

Fat gets a bad rap even though it is a nutrient we need in our diets. The big concern is making sure we don’t have too much fat. Learn all about dietary fats and how getting too much or too little affects our health.

Does my body need fats?

Yes, it does. Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell function. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones, too.

How many different kinds of fats are there?

There are four major dietary fats in food:

  1. Saturated fats
  2. Transfats
  3. Monounsaturated fats
  4. Polyunsaturated fats

The four types have different chemical structures and physical properties. The “bad fats,” saturated  and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature (like butter). Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like canola oil).

Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. A diet high saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Eating an overall healthy dietary pattern that is higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels.