What are Different Fats?

Types of fats

Fats can be classified into four major categories: Saturated fats, Polyunsaturated fats, Monounsaturated fat and Trans fat
Saturated fats are found in fatty meats, butter, cream, cheese, chocolate, coconut, pies, pastries, cakes, most fast foods, biscuits, potato chips, regular milk, regular yogurt (curd), etc.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin), walnuts, vegetable oils, etc.

Monounsaturated fats are found in olives and olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, nuts (peanuts, Brazil), etc.

Trans fats (trans-fatty acids) are formed when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, that makes them as solids or semisolids (in India, it is commonly known as Dalda). Trans fats are used in many snacks, viz. cookies, cakes, microwave popcorn, fried foods, in margarine (stick and tub varieties).

Many people think that fat is not good for body, specially if they wish to lose weight. The fact is that our body requires certain kind of fats for growth, development and glowing skin. However, saturated fat is not good that cause heart problems, but unsaturated fat can protect the heart.

Saturated, Monounsaturated & Polyunsaturated Fats

Saturated Fats, Monounsaturated Fats   Polyunsaturated Fats|Fat Word Definitions|Daily Fat Requirement|Percentage fat calculation | Best cooking oil

Facts on Polyunsaturated (PUF), Monounsaturated (MUF) and Saturated Fats (SF)

Amount of hydrogen (H2)Filled up with H2 Missing many H2 atoms. Missing some H2 atoms
At room temp.Saturated fats are usually solid or firm. liquid called as oils. liquid called as oils.
Sources Mostly from plants, examples are sesame oil, safflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil Mostly from plants, examples are olive oil, canola oil, peanut oilMostly from animals: fat in meat, butter, lard, cheese, whole milk, cream, ghee.
plant sources: coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, trans-fat
Effect on our healthCan raise blood cholesterol. Can lower blood cholesterol and may lower HDL. Can lower blood cholesterol but not HDL.

Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are considered to be better than saturated fats. It is emphasized that saturated fat in the diet is more harmful than dietary cholesterol. Trans fats decrease levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and raise LDL (bad cholesterol). Trans fats are therefore more harmful than saturated fats.

Fat Words Definitions

[Reference FDA Consumer and revisions made in November 1994, January 1996, and January 1999.]

healthy fats


Cholesterol is a chemical compound manufactured in the body that helps the body to make steroid hormones and bile acids. The cholesterol is used to build cell membranes and brain and nerve tissues. It is a member of the lipid family
Dietary cholesterol

Cholesterol is found in animal products such as meat cholesterol, cholesterol in egg yolks, some cholesterol in shellfish and cholesterol in milkproducts.
Fatty acid

Fatty acids are molecules composed mainly of carbon and hydrogen atoms.

Fat is a chemical compound that contains fatty acids. The energy is stored in the body as fat. Fat is one of the main constituents of food besides protein and carbohydrate. Fat is a member of the lipid family.
Hydrogenated fat

Hydrogenated fat (Trans fatty acid) is a fat that has been chemically altered by the addition of hydrogen atoms. Vegetable shortening, margarine, Dalda, etc are hydrogenated fats.
Lipid is a chemical compound insoluble in water.

Lipoprotein is a chemical compound made of fat and protein. Lipoproteins main function is to carry cholesterol in blood. Lipoprotein having more protein than fat are called high-density lipoproteins (HDLs). Lipoproteins having more fat than protein are called low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) .
Monounsaturated fatty acid

A fatty acid in which one pair of hydrogen atoms is missing in the middle of the molecule. Monounsaturated fatty acids are found mostly in plant and sea foods. Olive oil and canola oil are high in monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids are known to lower LDL-cholesterol in the blood.
Polyunsaturated fatty acid

A fatty acid in which more than one pair of hydrogen atoms are missing. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are mostly found in plant and sea foods. Safflower oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are known to lower both HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in the blood.
Saturated fatty acid

Saturated fatty acid is a fatty acid that is "saturated" with hydrogen atoms. i.e. having maximum possible number of hydrogen atoms attached to every carbon atom. Saturated fatty acids are mostly found in animal products, meat and whole milk. Ghee, Butter, coconut oil, corn oil and lard are high in saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids tend to raise LDL-cholesterol in the blood.
Trans fatty acid or Trans-fats

In Trans fatty acid some of the missing hydrogen atoms have been put back in polyunsaturated fatty acid by hydrogenation, Trans fatty acids solidify at higher temperatures. Vegetable shortening, margarine, Dalda, Rath, etc are Trans fatty acids.
- Eleanor Mayfield, Writer, Silver Spring, Md.

How much fat to be consumed daily?

  1. To improve overall health: No more than 30% of total calories from fat.
  2. Overweight with low risk of heart disease: No more than 30% of total calories from fat.
  3. Family history of heart disease, or have cardiovascular risk factors: No more than 20% of total calories from fat.
  4. If you have heart disease: discuss with your Doctor. No more than 10% of total calories from fat.

The US Department of Agriculture (www.usda.gov) recommends the following Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005):

  1. Consume
    Saturated fats : less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids
    Trans fatty acids : as low as possible
    Cholesterol : less than 300 mg/day
    Total fat intake (mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) : 20 to 35 percent of calories
  2. Select lean, low-fat or fat-free poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products.

Sources of healthy fats

You can add healthy fat in your diet by eating the following foods regularly:

Avocado, Flaxseeds and other seeds, Nuts, Olives, Eggs and Fish like salmonm, tuna, mackerel and sardines.

Fat Calculations

Suppose you want to get 20% of your calories from fat, and your targeted calorie intake is 2000 calories per day.

  1. First calculate fat calories.
    20% of 2000 = 2000x0.20 = 400 fat calories
  2. Calculate Fat to be consumed.
    Remember that 1g of fat gives you 9 calories.
    Therefore, 400 fat calories = 400/9 = 44.45 g fat

It means that if your total targeted calorie intake is 2000 calories, and you want to eat 20% of calories from fat, you should eat 44.45 g of total fat per day.

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