What is the difference between good and bad fats and why do we need them?

As Ollie’s trainers explain at his Manchester Gym, It’s pretty simple when people talk about fats. Any good Manchester personal trainer will tell you that your body needs them to live, not only as they are a major energy source, but they also help your body to absorb vitamins and nutrients.

Only certain fats are bad for you, this is what many people don’t understand. The ‘bad fats’ are known as saturated fats and Trans fatty acids, or Trans fats. Eating high numbers of these bad fats increase your chances of developing heart disease by increasing cholesterol and blood pressure.

nutritional advice manchester

Bad fat

As previously stated there are two types of bad fats, these are saturated fats and trans fats, they also share one physical trait; they are both solid at room temperature. Consuming high levels of these food groups will block up arteries and clog up your internal organs causing serious problems later in life.

Saturated Fats

There are about 24 different saturated fats with foods, however not all of them are equally as bad for your health. The saturated fat found in butter, whole milk, cheese, and other dairy products increases LDL cholesterol levels the most, followed by the saturated fat in beef (red meat).

Curiously, the saturated fat called stearic acid, found in pure chocolate, is more like unsaturated fat in that it lowers LDL levels, hence why dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate. Even some vegetable oils, such as palm oil and coconut oil, contain saturated fat.

Trans fats

Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) are the other harmful fat they we as humans consume a lot of. These fats occur naturally in red meat, but furthermore their main dietary source is packaged baked products such as cookies, cakes, white breads, and crackers, as well as fast foods and some dairy products.

Trans fats were originally artificially created in the laboratory to provide cheap alternatives to butter. Food chemists found that they could solidify vegetable oil by heating it in the presence of hydrogen. As a result, the structure of polyunsaturated fat (a good fat) becomes more like saturated fat.  Thus, solid vegetable fats such as shortening and margarine came into being. Today, trans fats are found not only in solid foods such as these, but also in liquid form as scientists add hydrogen to increase shelf life of certain foods.

Trans fats are even worse for you than saturated fats. Not only do they increase your LDL cholesterol, but they also reduce your beneficial HDL cholesterol. There is no safe level of trans fats, so stay away from them as much as possible.

nutritional information manchester
Good fat

Many fats are actually good for you, and this is the case with unsaturated fats, there are two types of unsaturated fats, these are broken down into polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. I will talk about this further down this article. Good fats can help lower LDL cholesterol, prevent abnormal heart rhythms, and prevent heart disease.

As previously stated, eating unsaturated fats instead of saturated can help lower blood cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are always in liquid form and are never of a solid texture when at room temperature.

Unsaturated fat, such as omega-3 which are essential fatty acids, is found in: oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, certain nuts and seeds and sunflower and olive oils. Unsaturated fats are also found in fruit and vegetables, such as avocados. Underneath is more information about the two split ‘good fats’.

Polyunsaturated fats

When you pour liquid cooking oil in a pan, there’s a good chance you’re using polyunsaturated fat. Olive oil is a common example.

Polyunsaturated fats are required for normal body functions, but your body can’t manufacture them and so must get them from food. Therefore omega-3 and omega-6 being known to us as essential fatty acids, meaning you must take them on through your nutrition as your body can’t naturally produce them. Polyunsaturated fats help build cell membranes including the exterior casing of each cell, and furthermore the sheaths that surround nerves.

Polyunsaturated fats are vital to blood clotting, muscle contraction and relaxation, and inflammation. They reduce LDL more than they lower HDL, improving your cholesterol profile. There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids and omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids.


nutrition advice manchester


Research has shown that omega-3s help prevent and even treat heart disease and stroke. Evidence also suggests they have similar benefits against autoimmune diseases such as lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3s come mainly from fish, but also from flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and soybean oil. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are especially good sources of omega-3s.


Omega-6 fatty acids also lower the risk for heart disease. High levels of linoleic acid, an omega-6, are in such vegetable oils as safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils.

Mono saturated fats

Monounsaturated fats. These fats should be used as much as possible along with polyunsaturated fats to replace the bad saturated fats and trans fats. Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts and seeds.

The bottom line is that “good fats” are an integral part of heart-healthy diets, especially when they replace saturated and trans fats in our diets. These healthy fats are also a good swap for some of the carbohydrates we eat.

For more information about how Ollie Lawrence personal training Manchester can help you please click here or call Ollie directly on 0161 399 00 77.

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