08 Aug 2022

Healthy Eating: Not all fats are the same

Advice column with Debbie Devane

Healthy Eating: Not all fats are the same

An avocado is a great example of a healthy fat

Are you one of the many people who have spent most of your adult life on a low-fat diet, in the hope of losing weight, or simply because you were always led to believe that all fat is bad?


Let’s take a closer look at the different types of fat and see which ones you should be eating more of and which ones to avoid!

Monounsaturated fats

These are the kinds of fats associated with the Mediterranean diet – particularly olive oil, and populations that eat a lot of these fats, like the people of Greece and Italy, have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. This is due to the fact that monounsaturated fats protect your heart by maintaining levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. To increase these fats in your diet add include,

Olive oil



Brazil nuts

Unsalted peanuts


Polyunsaturated fats

These are better known as omega-3 and omega-6 – the essential fatty acids. ‘Essential’ meaning we must ingest them as they are required for good health, but the body cannot synthesize them.

They fulfil many roles in the body, and sufficient levels have implications for cell membranes, hormones (they regulate insulin function), managing inflammation and immunity, mood and memory & they help us absorb our fat-soluble vitamins such as vit A, D, E & K

As a rule, omega-6 fats are not as good for you as the omega-3 fats, which are all anti-inflammatory. It’s not that omega-6 fats are inherently bad, just that it’s less good when the balance between the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids gets disturbed.

Historically, humans ate a good ratio of omega-6:3 – ranging between 1:1 and 4:1. The modern Western diet has changed things for the worse, and the ratio is frequently 20:1 thanks to processed foods, vegetable oils and conventionally raised (rather than grass-fed) meat.

To ensure a good ratio of omega 3:6 increase foods rich in omega 3 such as

Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel & tuna


Chia seeds



Reduce food high in omega 6 such as

Sunflower oil

Corn oil

Vegetable oil

Safflower oil

Snack foods such as crisps & tortilla chips

Fast foods & ready meals

Saturated fat & Trans fats

These are the fats that have the worst reputation & should be minimized in the diet.

Saturated fat. This type of fat comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fats raise LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Trans fat. This type of fat occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated trans fats can cause cell membranes to become stiff and hard, and they no longer function correctly. They also increase total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but lower HDL “good” cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

So, the take home message is all fat is not the same and you may benefit from increasing your intake of healthy fats and reducing your intake of the unhealthy fats.

If you need help implementing these changes or would like to reduce your cholesterol levels, then contact Debbie.

Debbie Devane from The Nutri Coach is a qualified nutritionist and health coach, Debbie runs her clinic from the Glenard Clinic in Mountmellick and also offers one to one online consultations.

Debbie is also Nutritionist to the Offaly GAA senior footballers.

For more information or to make an appointment email Debbie at  Ph: 086-1720055Facebook: The Nutri Coach @debbiedevanethe nutricoach  Instagram: the_nutricoach

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