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What Are Good Fats? Can They Help With Obesity?

What Are Good Fats? Can They Help With Obesity?

Just as there are healthy sources of carbohydrates and protein, there are also good sources of fats. What are good fats? And can they help with obesity? Find out here.

Not All Fats Are Bad

If you want to have a healthier diet, one of your first instincts is to steer clear of fatty foods. And while you’re right about refusing that extra serving of bacon and removing the fatty part of the meat, you have to know that not all fats are bad.

Fat is one of the macronutrients (along with carbs and protein) we need in our diet. Having enough of them from good sources is crucial because they¹:

  • Give energy
  • Protect the organs
  • Regulate temperature
  • Help in nutrient absorption
  • Produce hormones

The bottom line is, when thinking about a healthy and balanced diet, you need to have enough dietary fat from good sources. But, what are good fats, and can they help with obesity?

What Are Good Fats?

What are good fats? Good fats are essentially the “unsaturated” kinds consisting of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.

These kinds of fat can²:

Bad fat, on the other hand, increases disease risk even when consumed in small quantities³. Bad fats include saturated, hydrogenated, and trans-fat.

Can Good Fats Help With Obesity?

The few studies talking about good fat and obesity show positive results.

First, an eight-year study involving 42,000 middle-aged and older women showed that increased consumption of bad fat was associated with weight gain, but increased consumption of good fat was not⁴.

Another report also noted that the intake of healthy fat can improve cholesterol levels and reduce obesity risk⁵.

Finally, a team of researchers said there’s still no concrete evidence that replacing bad fat with good fat aids in weight loss. However, they concluded that a diet high in good fat and low in bad fat can decrease the total cholesterol levels in metabolically healthy obese⁶.

What Are Good Fat Sources?

Now that you have a better understanding of how crucial it is to choose unsaturated fat, let’s talk about the sources.

Generally, good fats are liquid at room temperature. Some of the most common sources of mono and polyunsaturated fats are:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Plant oils, including canola and olive
  • Soybeans
  • Seafood, like mackerel, salmon, and herring

Bad fats, on the other hand, are solid at room temperature. They come from cheese, cream, butter, lard, and animal and processed meat. Some oils, such as palm oil, are also high in the bad kinds of fat.

Tips in Consuming Healthy Fat

The first crucial tip is to replace bad fat with good fat while keeping in mind that you still need to consume them in moderation. Remember that fats, regardless of their sources, still contain calories, and consuming too much can lead to weight gain.

Additional tips include:

  • Eating seafood (instead of animal meat) at least twice a week. The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood might even help lower blood pressure.
  • Using oil instead of butter.
  • Choosing lean meat and skinless poultry. Don’t forget to trim visible fat in meat, too.
  • Limiting your intake of processed and fast food.
  • Being careful with foods with “zero trans fat” labels. They may not contain trans fat, but they might have saturated fatty acids.

Key Takeaways

What are good fats? Good fats are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Unlike bad fatty acids (saturated, hydrogenated, and trans), good fat lowers disease risk and might even reduce the possibility of obesity.

Experts recommend replacing bad fat with good fat while still consuming them in moderation.

Learn more about Obesity here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1 Dietary Fats, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/dietary-fats, October 15, 2021

2 Choosing Healthy Fats, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/choosing-healthy-fats.htm#, October 15, 2021

3 Fats and Cholesterol, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/, October 15, 2021

4 Beyond Willpower: Diet Quality and Quantity Matter, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/diet-and-weight/#references, October 15, 2021

5 A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5577766/, October 15, 2021

6 How dietary fats’ impact healthy or obese adults, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170830114813.htm, October 15, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Oct 18
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran