Monounsaturated, Fatty Acids, Saturated Fats, Good and Bad?

Bad fats, Good fats, Saturated fats, Unsaturated fats, Monounsaturated fats, Polyunsaturated fats, How many grams should I have a day?

Bad Fats

Too much fat in the diet leads to weight gain and the risk of serious health problems. It is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and some cancers. This very real fact however is not the complete picture. The bottom line is that you do need some fat in your diet to be healthy. 

Good Fats

Essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6) have to come from your diet as they cannot be made in the body. These acids are recognized to help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Some vitamins (A, D, E and K) are strictly fat soluble and cannot be delivered to the body via any other means. The answer is to know which fats to chose for your diet and know how much to consume. 

REMEMBER whatever type of fat 1gram = 9kcals.

Saturated Fats

The bad fat should be strictly limited. Saturated fats are the major component of storage fat - the fat around your bottom, thighs and stomach. 

Cut back on: Butter, Processed meat products - sausages, pork pies, Biscuits, Cakes, Cream, Full-fat cheese, Whole milk, Burgers and fries, Crisps. Denmark has recently introduced a 'fat tax' to encourage people to do just this.

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats have many health benefits, and can be split into two categories - monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats:

Monounsaturated Fats

These fats can help to lower total blood cholesterol and can help to prevent certain cancers and heart disease.

Rich sources of monounsaturated fatty acids include olive oil, rapeseed oil, nuts and peanut butter (use sugar and salt-free brands).

Polyunsaturated Fats

Split into two groups, Omega6 and Omega3, these fats are essential to the formation of cells and normal functioning of the nervous system.

Rich sources are oil-rich fish - such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel.

How Many Grams Should I Have A Day?

The Weight Loss Resources nutritional profile recommends that 30% of your daily calorie quota should come from fats. To calculate how many grams this is per day, use this formula:

Grams fat/day = [Your daily calorie quota x 30%] ÷ 9

Cooking Oils

We have all heard about healthy and unhealthy oils. And with what we know about saturated fats and poly and mono-unsaturated fats, it is clear to see that oils can vary dramatically. 1 Tablespoon of oil contains around 11g of fat and therefore 100 calories, but could it be worthwhile introducing this into your daily food choices?

Remember when using oils that they are extremely calorific, and therefore should only be used in small quantities. Often only a small amount is required to get the nutritional bonus from them.

Oil What’s in it? When to use it?
Olive Predominantly made up of monounsaturated fat, this oil may actually help lower cholesterol. The flavour is impaired by heating so this is best used drizzled over salads and vegetables or in dressings rather than for frying.
Sunflower With the highest amount of Vitamin E of all oils this is a very healthy choice to go for. New research has found that overheating to the point of smoking and reheating this oil causes the release of a toxin with possible links to heart disease.  A cheap yet healthy oil that is ideal for frying. However don’t overheat to the point of smoking and only use once to prevent harmful compounds forming.
Rapeseed With the lowest saturated fat of all oils and plenty of vitamin E and omega 3 fats, rapeseed is extremely beneficial to fit into your diet. A relatively flavourless oil that’s good for many dishes such as stir fries.
Linseed Made from flaxseeds and packed with omega 3, linseed oil is great for those who don’t eat fish. Unfortunately does not store well and also is not suitable for cooking. Try it on salad dressings to get that goodness into your diet.
Groundnut Made from peanuts so not suitable for people with a nut allergy. However it provides plenty of good fats as well as vitamin E. Can be heated, so a good choice for frying and stir fries.
Corn Most of the fat is omega 6 which is very beneficial to the human body. It also contains plant sterols that are linked to lowering cholesterol. Can be used in frying but does release toxins when overheated and repeatedly heated so should only be used for cooking once.
Grapeseed Contains essential fatty acids such as omega 6 that the body cannot produce itself. Can be heated so another great possibility to use for frying.
Coconut Over 90% saturated fat sounds bad, but coconut oil can be healthy. If used in conjunction with exercise the fat is broken down for energy and not stored. This is why coconut oil is the preferred choice for athletes and weight lifters. Coconut oil can be added to smoothies, used in bread or even cakes. Only small quantities are required to get the benefits as being high in saturated fat it wouldn’t be good to guzzle this down. 

Rich in unsaturated fats, sesame oil in small quantities is very good for your heart.


Not suitable for those with a sesame or seed/nut allergy

Almost essential in Oriental style cooking and recipes due to its great flavour, sesame oil is excellent to use in a variety of meals. Drizzle over dishes just before serving to make the most of the great taste.
Soybean Although low in saturated fat this is not the best of choices as it is often hydrogenated, this means it is high in unhealthy trans fats. So check the label before purchasing. With a high smoking point soybean oil is good for cooking and frying.


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Further Information

H.E.A.R.T. - The Cholesterol Charity

HEART UK supports all those at risk of inherited high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

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