About Fats

What Are the Main Types of Fat?

Saturated fats (worst)

  • Many saturated fats come from animal sources at the end of the food chain, these fats may carry chemicals that cause cancer.
  • Found in foods like beef, pork, whole milk, cheese, butter, pies and cakes.
  • These fats can also raise your blood cholesterol level. Cholesterol can increase your chances of getting heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats (neutral)

  • These fats are not as good for your heart as monounsaturated fats and have been linked to tumor growth in animals.
  • Found in many vegetables and oils including safflower, sesame, sunflower, corn and soybean oils.
  • Use canola or olive oil instead of other oils, and try to use salad dressings, mayonnaise and margarine made from canola or olive oils.

Monounsaturated fats (better)

  • These fats are better for your health than other types of fats. In fact, most of the fat grams you eat should come from monounsaturated fats.
  • Found in many vegetable oils (like canola and olive oil), some nuts (like almonds and peanuts) and avocados.
  • These fats may be healthier but they still have a lot of calories, so watch the amount you use.

Omega-3 fatty acids (best)

  • These fats are a special kind of polyunsaturated fat that may help prevent heart disease and cancer. Therefore, don’t worry about counting these fats as part of the fat grams that are suggested for you.
  • Found in fish (all types, though cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel have more omega-3s), some nuts (walnuts) and oilseeds.
  • Flaxseeds, soybeans and other oilseeds may be rich sources of omega-3s, but they may also have phytoestrogens that may promote breast cancer. If you have breast cancer, eat these foods in moderation until more is known.

How Much Saturated Fat Is in the Food I Eat?

All oils contain fat, but all have different amounts of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats in them.

For example, look at these oils:

Things to Remember About Saturated Fat

  • Limit the saturated fat you eat to the amount listed on page 3, as well as in your Record Book. The less you eat, the better.
  • Use your Fat Gram Counter or read food labels to see how much saturated fat you are eating.
  • While some fats are better than others (like olive and canola oil), remember that all types of fats have a lot of calories. For weight control it is important to limit the amount of fat you eat.

Read Food Labels for Fat

Reading the nutrition labels on the foods you buy can help you choose foods that are healthier for you.