Good fats vs bad fats

Good fats vs bad fats

Fat is a high calorie energy source with one gram containing nine calories. Fat is made up of three different structures: saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

All types of fat provide the same number of calories regardless of it being any one of the 3 structures noted above. This means that too much of any type of fat can lead to weight gain.

The recommendation currently stands at fat intake not exceeding 35% of one’s daily caloric intake. Saturated fats are not to exceed 11% of total caloric intake. With this in mind, men should restrict saturated fat intake to no more than 30 grams a day and women no more than 20g.

Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in our blood, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.   There are two types of cholesterol in the body, HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. ‘Bad’ cholesterol can build up in our blood vessels and cause them to narrow.

A high saturated fat will result in high cholesterol and coronary heart disease. Replacement of saturated fat with unsaturated fat will reduce blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. These are found in vegetable oils such as olive, avocados, and nuts.

Omega 3 fats are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are found in oily fish, seeds, and nuts. Omega 3 fatty acids are directly linked with good heart health. To receive the full benefit of omega 3 fats, one should aim to eat at least one serving of oily fish per week.

Small changes are easy to make in your diet to achieve higher levels of unsaturated fats. See below for foods higher in trans and saturated fats, and how you can substitute them for foods that contain unsaturated fats.


Food to swap Swap for
Full cream milk, cream, cheese  Low fat dairy products containing reduced fat or less than 1%
High fat cuts of meat Lean meat with fat trimmed and little marble
Fried foods  Grilled, steamed, boiled, or baked foods
Butter, coconut oil, palm oil  Olive oil, sunflower oil, alternative fat spreads
Pasties and cakes   Nuts