The Good Fat Guide From Celebrity Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Do you know the difference between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats? Zoe Bingley-Pullin helps you separate the ‘good’ fats from the bad, and places you on the path to better health.
Fats play a big role in health. If you can get your fat intake right, it will make a huge difference. The key is to: cut back on saturated fats and trans fats, while making any fats you do eat the unsaturated kind, i.e. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Remember that if you need to lose weight and increase your health, the easiest way to cut back on calories is to drop your overall fat (and alcohol) intake.

Cutting back on saturated and trans fats in your food will help lessen the fatty build-up on blood vessels walls and lower your cholesterol (both total cholesterol and the bad LDL-cholesterol). It’s also a key to losing body fat.

good-fatsimage via pinterest

Aim for:

Less saturated fat, no more that 10g a day for the average moderately active person.

Saturated Fats:

They are found in:

– Animal foods, such as butter, cream, fat on meats, chicken skin, cheese, milk, lard and dripping.
-Deep-fried fast foods (fries, fried chicken, nuggets), salty snack foods (crisp, corn chips), pastries and biscuits that are made using palm oil, and saturated tropical oil.
– Coconut milk and coconut cream used in Asian cuisine. Coconut oil is a component of soft centres in chocolate and of crisp chocolate coatings on ice creams.

What they do:

Saturated fats tend to raise both the total and the harmful LDL-cholesterol. We need to keep this type of fat to a minimum in our diet.

Trans Fats:

Trans fats or trans fatty acids (TFAs) are a minor type of fat.

They are found in:

– Butter
– Milk
– Beef and Lamb
– Some hard margarines and commercial solidified fats made for baking and pastry. The trans fats are formed during hydrogenation (hardening) of vegetable oils to turn them into a more solid spread. Soft spreads are now free of trans fatty acids – check the labels.

What they do:

Raise LDL-cholesterol in the same way as saturated fats. We need to limit this type of fat. They are all damaged and heated fats.

How your fat intake should be divided:

(Based on 20 percent of calories being derived from fat and designed for a moderately-active person consuming 1700-2000 calories a day)

Total fats                            50-40g a day, divided as:
Monounsaturated25-20g a day
Polyunsaturated 20-15g a day 
(which should include a
little omega-3 fats say about
2g a day)
Saturated and trans fats 10g a day maximum

Unsaturated Fats:

Unsaturated fats include both the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in oils, spreads, nuts, seeds and avocado. Both types are preferred over saturated fats and both lower cholesterol, thus cutting your risk of having a heart attack.

– Polyunsaturated fats – around 20-15g a day for an average, moderately active person.
– Monounsaturated fats – around 25-20g a day for an average, moderately active person.

Fats Myths:

What you’ve heard: Olive oil is the best oil to use if you’re trying to prevent heart disease.

Facts: Olive oil is a good choice, but it’s only one of several monounsaturated oils you could happily use. Other monounsaturated options are canola oil (which adds a bonus omega-3 fatty acid), macadamia oil or Sunola. Extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil contains a range of antioxidants, which are helpful to include in the diet, and give it the edge over other oils.

What you’ve heard: “Light” oils keep your fat intake low.

Fact: “Light or lite” oils has exactly the same amount of fat and calories as regular oils. They are simply light in flavour or lighter in colour.

What you’ve heard: Avocados are full of fat so are bad for your health.

Fact: Avocados ARE high in fat (at 23% or 22g from half a medium avocado). But their fat is rich in monounsaturated, which, like olive or canola oil, is now regarded as a “healthy” fat for the heart. Like other fruit and vegetables, avocado contains no cholesterol.

When it comes to health not all fats are bad. Saturated and trans fats are the poor health culprits as they tend to raise your blood cholesterol and clog and stiffen arteries, but monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are two types that are beneficial.

Monounsaturated Fats:

They are found in:

– Olive oil, flaxseed oil/meal, canola oil, Sunola (a derivative of Sunflower), peanut oil
– Avocados
– Nuts, particularly macadamias, pecans, pistachios, almonds, peanuts and cashews
– All vegetables oils contain some monounsaturated, as do lean meats, chickens, eggs and fish.
– Margarines made from canola or olive oils (still use sparingly because they have been heated therefore contain a % of trans fatty acid)

Monounsaturated reduces levels of the harmful LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood, but not to the same extent as the omega-6 polyunsaturated. However, there is some evidence that monounsaturated can lower insulin resistance and decrease heart disease. They also tend to be more stable and less likely to oxidise than polyunsaturated, so draw less on your body’s own antioxidants. They should make up the majority of fats in your diet.


Occur in two forms, both of which your body needs for health.

Omega-6 polyunsaturated:

Found in:

– Oils like sunflower, safflower, soy beans, cottonseed (often is Genetically Modified), maize, sesame and grape seed
– Polyunsaturated margarines
– Wheat germ
– Lecithin Rice bran oats
-Nuts, particularly Brazil nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are very effective at reducing both total cholesterol and the LDL-cholesterol and have been a cornerstone of diets – replacing saturated fats from butter and dripping – since the 1960s. Small quantities are important for the heart, but we don’t need lots of them

As a group, these fats usually occur in oils accompanied by vitamin E, which helps stabilises their structure and acts as their own antioxidant.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated:

Found in:

– Fish, especially oily fish (herring, salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines)
– Seafood
– Very lean red meat, game meat (kangaroo and venison)
– Kidney, liver
– A simpler version is found in flaxseed (linseed) oil, canola oil, walnuts, pecans, omega-enriched eggs, soybeans, green vegetables and herbs.

Omega-3 reduces the tendency for the blood to clot and protects against arrhythmia; they lower triglycerides, cholesterol and may lower high blood pressure.

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