Two different types of fats, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats, are considered unsaturated fats. In addition to unsaturated fats, there are two other types of fats, saturated fats and trans fats. The healthiest fats are the unsaturated fats, which provide the body with several health benefits. The least healthy fat is the artificially created trans fat.
Types of Fats
Saturated fats are the most chemically stable of the fats. They have the longest shelf life, can withstand high cooking temperatures and are solid at room temperature. This type of fat is often found in tropical oils and animal fats. Saturated fats have shown to increase bad LDL cholesterol levels.
Trans fats are the most damaging of the fats. This fat is artificially created through a process called hydrogenation, which forces unsaturated fats to combine with hydrogen to create a more stable fat. While the fat may have a longer shelf life and be liquid at room temperature, it negatively impacts your health. Most specifically, this type of fat is harmful to your cholesterol levels because it has shown to raise bad LDL cholesterol levels.
Health Benefits of Fats
The fats with the most health benefits are the unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and common oils that include polyunsaturated fats include corn oil, soy oil and fish oil. Polyunsaturated fat is not recommended for cooking because the heat can damage it. This type of fat is typically consumed raw and kept in the refrigerator.
Health Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats are heart healthy fats that help the body increase good HDL cholesterol levels and lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. There are many health benefits with monounsaturated fats ranging from aiding with weight loss to lowering the risk of stroke and lessening the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritics. The most touted health benefit of monounsaturated fats is that they have shown to reduce total cholesterol levels, and more specifically, lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, a study in Sweden has shown that monounsaturated fats lower the risk of breast cancer.
Foods with Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats are less stable, chemically, than saturated fats but are more stable fats than polyunsaturated fats. This means that monounsaturated fats keep better than polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are good to use in light cooking or added raw to a light dressing.
Popular oils that contain monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil and peanut oil. Monounsaturated fat can be stored at room temperature, where it will remain a liquid. Monounsaturated fats are also found in certain raw nuts, such as peanuts and peanut butter.
Switching to Healthy Fats
Due to the fact that the human body requires fats for nutrient absorption and nerve transmission, you cannot eliminate all fats from your diet. You want to eat a diet that focuses on healthy unsaturated fats. An excellent way to eliminate unhealthy fats from your diet is by switching from using certain oils, such as coconut oil, palm oil and vegetable shortening, to using heart healthy olive oil, canola oil or flax seed oil. Another way to eliminate unhealthy fats is by eliminating whole milk from your diet and instead consuming 1% or skim milk.