FATS Broken Down

(There’s a summary at the bottom for those of you who look at this and think “Too long, I’m not going to read this” )

There are 3 main types of dietary fat:

  1. saturated
  2. monounsaturated
  3. polyunsaturated

The difference between saturated and unsaturated fat is the bond structure.

Saturated fats contain no double bonds. Each carbon (C) has two hydrogens (H). The chain is “saturated” with hydrogens. Because of this chemical configuration, saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, have one or more double bonds between the carbons. So, not all of the carbons have hydrogens stuck to them. This puts a “kink” in the chain.

Monounsaturated fats have one double bond.

Polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond.

(The molecular shape of fats is important because they determine how they act in the body.)


  • In popular terminology, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are what most people refer to as “healthy fats.”
  • Yet humans have likely consumed unprocessed forms of saturated fats (such as organ meats from wild game, blubber from seals and whales, milk, or coconuts) for our entire existence.

So, a better definition of “healthy fat” could be, “relatively unprocessed fat from whole foods”.


  • We need adequate fat to support metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients (such as vitamins A and D).
  • The fat we consume is digested and either used for energy, stored in adipose (fat) tissue, or incorporated into other body tissues and organs.
  • Many of our body tissues are lipid (fat) based. This includes our brains and the fatty sheath that insulates our nervous systems. Our cell membranes are made of phospholipids, which means they’re fat-based too.
  • Fat can affect signaling molecules that influence blood vessel constriction, inflammation, blood clotting, pain, airway constriction, etc.
  • Since our brains are fat-based, changes in fat composition can affect the transmission of nervous system impulses, mood, memory, and more.

For this reason, balancing our fat intake can promote optimal functioning of our entire body.

Therefore we must emphasize whole food fat sources in our diet.


Unhealthy fats are typically those that are industrially produced and designed to be nonperishable, such as:

  • trans fats- fatty acids that appear in processed foods
  • hydrogenated fats such as margarine (hydrogen is added to the fat chain to make a normally liquid and perishable fat into a solid and shelf-stable fat)
  • most shelf-stable cooking oils (e.g. safflower, soybean, corn oil, etc.)


Get a mix of fat types from whole, unprocessed, high-quality foods. These include nuts, seeds (hemp, flax, and chia are especially nutritious), fish, seaweed, pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs, olives, avocado, coconut, etc.

Avoid industrially processed, artificially created, and factory-farmed foods, which contain unhealthy fats.

Keep it simple. Don’t worry too much about exact percentages and grams.


Answer the following in a comment below

Do you think you get adequate healthy fats in a day? Why or why not? How will you alter your habits to account for this?

Holistic Mystic Nutrition Guide
Author: Holistic Mystic Nutrition Guide

Your favourite, knowledgable ghost writer