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Fat…you’re told they’re bad, then you’re told they’re good. So, which is it?


“Your body needs fat in order to function,” says Barbara Roberts, MD, director of the Women’s Cardiac Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence and author of How to Keep from Breaking Your Heart. “Fats help you absorb vitamins A, D, and E, and they are vital for your nervous system.”

According to a study, people who follow a Mediterranean diet, which consists of eating a variety of healthy foods that include whole grains, vegetables, protein and healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats, may lower their heart disease risk of heart disease by nearly 30 percent. Healthy fats can also help you manage your weight.

In fact, did you know that 25 to 30 percent of your total daily calories should come from fat? The issue is whether you’re eating good fats or bad fats.

Good Fats…

Monounsaturated Fats

Also known as MUFAs, monounsaturated fats raise good HDL cholesterol, lower bad LDL cholesterol, and protect against the buildup of plaque in your arteries. They also help prevent belly fat, according to research.

Foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats include olive oil and olives, almonds, peanuts and avocados.

“Just two to three tablespoons of olive oil a day can raise HDL levels and protect against heart disease,” says Dr. Roberts.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats not only lower your LDL, they also contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, which boost brain function and may help strengthen your immune system, and omega-6 fatty acids, which help keep skin and eyes healthy.

Polyunsaturated-rich foods include salmon, canola oil, safflower oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and grass-fed chicken and beef.

Bad Fats…

Saturated Fats

Why are saturated fats bad for you? They can raise your cholesterol level, which can raise your heart disease risk. Which is why you should limit foods like red meat, cream, butter, coconut oil and palm oil, and make sure that saturated fats make up no more than 10 percent of your total daily calories.

Trans Fats

By now, you’ve definitely heard about it, but what exactly is trans fat? Basically, trans fat is made from unsaturated fat that’s been chemically altered. What makes this fat so dangerous is that it can simultaneously raise bad LDL and lower good HDL. Trans fat is very good friends with heart disease.

According to most experts, your body has absolutely no use for this type of fat, which can be found in shortening, margarine, doughnuts, french fries, and processed foods such as crackers, cookies, chips and cakes.

An important note: The FDA allows food manufacturers to claim that a product contains “zero trans fats” if one serving of it has 0.5 grams of trans fats or less. So check product labels for “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” which is another name that trans fats often go by.

Foods With The Healthiest Fats

So, now that you know about healthy fat vs. not-so-healthy fat, what are some healthy fat foods that you should be focusing on eating more of?

Olive Oil

Cooking with olive oil can help make any meal healthier. But, it is an oil, and too many calories, even if they’re good oil calories, can hurt your waistline. So, be sure to measure your oil.


Not only are eggs are a great source of  protein, they also contain healthy fats. Some eggs are even enriched with extra omega-3.

Seeds & Nuts

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds can be tremendously good for you, as can nuts such as almonds, walnuts and peanuts. Just watch those servings sizes!


Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association suggests eating two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish a week.


Did you know that when you eat healthy fat-rich avocado with other foods, it helps your body better absorb their nutrients?

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