After years of fat-free diet crazes {packed with carbohydrates and sugar}, health experts are now researching the benefits of healthy fats.  We know healthy fats are essential for hormone balance, cognition, cell membrane health, and blood sugar stability. You may have heard of Dr. Mark Hyman’s new book “Eat Fat, Get Thin” or the Bulletproof Coffee craze. These health experts are great resources if you desire to dig deeper into the benefits of fat!

Remember that just like not all calories are created equal, not all fats contain the same health benefits. When adding fat to your diet, it is important to understand the different types of fats.

Here is a quick breakdown of the different forms of fat:


“Partially hydrogenated oils”

    • Changed by a process called hydrogenation (simply adding hydrogen to vegetable oil)
    • Increases shelf life, less likely to spoil  
    • Often used in deep-fryers in restaurants because it can be used multiple times  
    • Referred to as the “double whammy” because it increases your LDL (lousy cholesterol) AND decreases your HDL (healthy cholesterol)
    • GOOD NEWS: FDA has been researching the negative effects of trans fat since the 1990s, so USA consumption has decreased!!
    • Summary: Limit consumption as much as possible!!


“Solid at room temperature”

    • Increases LDL cholesterol
    • Primarily found in meats and dairy
    • American Heart Association recommends no more than 5-6% of your daily total calories be derived from saturated fat
    • Although coconut oil has a significant amount of saturated fat it is roughly 2/3 medium-chain fatty acids, see below.


    • Coconut oil, palm oil, and some dairy products
    • Coconut oil has lauric acid in it, which is converted to monolaurin. Monolaurin has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoa properties.
    • Easily digested
    • MCT fats have been shown to help with weight loss, abdominal obesity, and metabolic syndrome


    • Polyunsaturated
      • Mainly in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds
      • Contains both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids
      • Can lower LDL cholesterol and reduce heart disease
    • Monounsaturated : “MUFAs”
      • Avocados, nuts, olive oil
      • Helps lower LDL while maintaining HDL cholesterol
      • Reduces heart disease

Bottom line is fats should not be avoided. They are actually an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Did you know fats are an intricate part of hormone production? Too low of cholesterol is not a good thing because cholesterol converts into pregnenolone (the precursor of DHEA and progesterone). Fats help stabilize blood sugar and support cognition and brain health. Since adding more fats into my diet, I have found my blood sugar stays more stable throughout the day and I am able to think clearer. My favorite fats are walnuts, almonds, olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil. Try incorporating more of these healthy fats into your day to see how you feel.

Do you have a favorite healthy snack with fat? I would love to hear about it. Share below.

Kristin Oja, DNP, FNP-C, PT-C

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