Fats are one of the three main macronutrient groups in human diet.
Foods containing dietary fat have a mix of specific types of fats. Fats are made up of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and called saturated or unsaturated depending on how much of each type of fatty acid they contain.
Fats are compounds of fatty acids.
- Unsaturated fats, liquid at room temperature - predominantly found in nuts and seeds.
Evidence clearly shows that unsaturated fat remains the healthiest type of fat. The American Heart Association suggests that 8-10 percent of daily calories should come from polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats can lower blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythm, and reduce the cardiovascular risk.
- Monounsaturated - found in high concentrations in peanuts, avocados, olives, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
- Polyunsaturated fats - in sunflower seeds, soybeans, flaxseeds, walnuts.
- Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, are made by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst, a process called hydrogenation, and naturally found in beef fat and dairy in small amounts. Trans fats are the worst type of fat for the body.
- Saturated fat is mainly found in animal foods, but also in a few plant foods: coconut and palm oil.
- The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to no more than 7 percent of calories.