Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

UGH! Who wants to talk about fat?

Well, fatty acids and triglycerides are important components for all of our body’s cells. Fats contain more energy per gram than proteins and carbohydrates. FATS ARE FUEL.


All fats are composed of fatty acids, which are a long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen attached to them. There are varying lengths to the chains, and those chains can be saturated or unsaturated.

Long Chain Saturated Fats:

Long chain saturated fats are solid at room temperature because all of the carbon atoms have a hydrogen atom attached to them. There is no “bend” in the structure of the molecule. They have beneficial effects on your heart, they support immune function, and deliver fat-soluble vitamins A,D, K and E to all the cells and tissues.

milk and meat

Medium Chain Saturated Fats:

Medium chain saturated fats are metabolized differently than the long chain fats. They don’t require bile for digestion, and they head right to the liver – so it’s easily digestible energy!

  • These fats are rich in lauric acid, found in mother’s milk, and is antiviral, antibacterial, and contains antioxidant properties.
  • These fats promote weight loss because they enhance fat burning.

coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut butter, and breast milk

Unsaturated Fats:

  • Monounsaturated fats: These have been shown to reduce LDL (the bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, and increase HDL levels (the good cholesterol), as well as reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.

olive oil, canola oil, macadamia nuts, avocado, almonds, and egg yolks

  • Polyunsaturated fats: There are two categories:
    • Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids: The most important ones are EPA and DHA, found in seafood, which help reduce inflammation throughout the body and brain.
    • Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids: The most important ones are linoleic acid found in nuts, seeds, poultry, and avocados, and arachidonic acid found in meat, poultry and eggs. Arachidonic acid is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain!

Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 in Our Diets

The average consumption of Omega-6 to Omega-3 (in the standard American diet) is 20:1. We want to strive toward a 1:1 ratio by greatly reducing the consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids.

The reason for the large discrepancy is:

Omega-6 is found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, but they are also found in abundance in processed and refined oils such as soybean, corn, and safflower oils. These oils can be found in our favorite foods: chips, crackers, salad dressings, and power bars.

So, our diets are heavy in Omega-6 and we don’t realize we are over-consuming them. It is necessary to consume them, but in the form of whole foods – as opposed to processed foods.

Increasing your Omega-3 intake while decreasing your Omega-6 intake will level off this large discrepancy. The Institute of Medicine recommends an intake of 1.1 mg/day for both Omega-6 and Omega-3.

Omega-3 fatty acids food sources include, but are not limited to: fish, grass-fed beef, flaxseed oil, eggs, edamame, and walnuts.