Fats – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

| JoAnna Weinand

We’ve all heard that “fat is bad”, but the truth is, is that there is such a thing as good fats!

Fats can be separated into 3 different categories; saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and trans fats. But how do you know which is the best for you?

Saturated fats are the fats that are “hard at room temperature.” Think of a stick of butter in your cupboard, doesn’t lose it’s shape! Intake of too much saturated fat can raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat should be less than 6% of your total calorie intake.¹ Sources of saturated fats are mainly animal sources. Saturated fats are also found in cheese and some plant-based products such as coconut oil and palm oil.

Unsaturated fats are the opposite of saturated fats and are liquid at room temperature. There are 2 different types, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. The main sources of unsaturated fats include nuts, seeds, fish, and oils from plants. The benefit of consuming unsaturated fats is that they can lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol which can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.² Another benefit of both polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats is that they’re a great source of vitamin E!³

The third type of fat is called trans fat. Some companies use trans fats because they are inexpensive to make and last a long time.4 Consuming dietary trans fat can raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and also lower your “good” (HDL) cholesterol.4 Trans fats are often found in fried foods such as doughnuts and baked goods such as pie crusts, biscuits, cookies and some sticks of margarine.4 To determine if foods contain trans fat, look in the ingredients for “partially hydrogenated oils.”

Tips to make a difference

  • Use olive oil in place of butter when cooking
  • Choose lean cuts of meats
  • Put sliced almonds or walnuts on your salad in place of cheese
  • Choose low fat milk and cheese

February is American Heart Month. Limiting saturated and trans fats are just a few things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Make an appointment with a registered dietitian to learn other changes to make to keep your heart healthy!

JoAnna Weinand graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2013 as a Registered Dietitian and started her career in New Mexico, working with many different disease states including diabetes in children and adults, kidney disease, malnutrition, weight management, and many different gastrointestinal diseases.

JoAnna has an adventurous spirit and her career has taken her from many different places, from New Mexico to California, North Dakota, nd Alaska. She has worked in many different settings including hospitals, dialysis centers, skilled nursing facilities, gyms, and within the community with youth and adults in Alaska.

JoAnna has always had a passion for nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. In her spare time, she loves to travel, mountain bike, rock climb,and backpack. Living back in Minnesota, she also loves to spend time with her family.

JoAnna believes that nutrition is not “one size fits all” and each nutrition plan should be tailored to meet an individual’s needs. JoAnna enjoys working with many different disease states and developing the right plan so each person can reach his or her own personal goals.


¹ Saturated Fats, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats. Accessed 1/20/2020.
² Polyunsaturated Fats, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/polyunsaturated-fats. Accessed 1/26/2020.
³ Monounsaturated Fats, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/monounsaturated-fats. Accessed 1/26/2020.
4Trans Fats, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/trans-fat. Accessed 1/26/2020.

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