Fats in Foods: Unsaturated Fats over Saturated or Trans Fats?

The consumption of unsaturated fats is positively associated with a lower risk of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, trans fats are associated with obesity.
Fats in Foods: Unsaturated Fats over Saturated or Trans Fats?

Last update: 06 June, 2021

Until a few years ago, some specialists said eating different fats in foods was harmful to health. Later, it was concluded that not all lipids are the same and that the consequences of their consumption could be different.

Therefore, nowadays we talk about good and bad fats for the organism, the latter being trans fats. What do we know about them? Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Eating unsaturated fats is good for health

Unsaturated fats have beneficial effects on reducing cardiovascular risk and systemic inflammation. Among them, omega-3 fatty acids stand out. These are able to help improve the lipid profile, according to an article published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease.

Moreover, they’re able to help reduce the symptomatology of inflammatory bowel diseases. They’re even linked to protection against the development of neurodegenerative pathologies, although the mechanisms of action aren’t yet entirely clear.

  • You can find unsaturated fats in oily fish, raw vegetable oils, oily fruits, and nuts.
  • They should be consumed regularly to counteract the inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids present in processed foods.
  • The intake ratio should be 1:1, although in the current dietary model this isn’t usually achieved.
Fish and nuts on a table.
The consumption of unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, is associated with good cardiovascular health.

There are doubts about saturated fats

Traditionally, scientists have linked the intake of saturated fats to an increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. However, today there are doubts about the strength of this relationship.

In fact, doctors have discovered that some types of saturated fats have cardioprotective properties, such as medium-chain triglycerides. These fats, present for example in coconut oil, contribute to the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system, according to a study published in 2016.

Moreover, researchers have linked the intake of saturated fats to an increase in human metabolism. In any case, the established relationship isn’t yet confirmed from the point of view of scientific evidence.

What scientists do know for sure is that fat consumption doesn’t always have a link to being overweight. In fact, low-carbohydrate diets have been slightly more effective in weight loss in the short, medium and long term than those that restrict fat intake.

Trans fats, the real enemies of fats in foods

Trans fats form when vegetable oils are subject to high temperatures. The oxidation processes create these products, and they have negative implications for the organism.

Consuming foods with this type of lipids conditions health, increasing the levels of systemic inflammation and worsening the lipid profile of the organism.

In addition, this type of fat may be directly related to the oxidation rate of LDL lipoprotein, which is beginning to be closely linked to cardiovascular disease.

On the other hand, specialists also associate this type of fatty acid with increased obesity, since it involves consuming processed foods. Industrial products have a high caloric density, in addition to other additives that can be detrimental to health. For this reason, doctors recommend people to prioritize the consumption of fresh foods over processed foods.

French fries.
Trans fats are related to inflammatory problems and excess weight. Therefore, it’s advisable to limit their consumption as much as possible.

Optimizing the intake of fats in foods improves health

According to the above, we must eat fats to help improve the body’s state of health. Thus, doctors advise people to consume unsaturated lipids on a regular basis.

To this end, there are various dietary strategies, such as using raw vegetable oils for seasoning, eating oily fish twice a week, including a handful of nuts in the afternoon snack, among others.

On the other hand, there are still doubts about the optimal intake of saturated fats. We know the positive properties of some of them. However, there are still experts who advise against those that come from animal products.

In this regard, the most prudent recommendation is to consume meat in moderation and to prioritize fish as a source of high-quality protein.

However, what has been proven is that limiting or eliminating the intake of trans fats is positive in terms of health. Therefore, we must restrict the consumption of processed, fried, and battered foods. These are also caloric foods that favor the development of obesity, with all the complications associated with this condition.

It might interest you...
White, Beige, and Brown Types of Body Fat
Step To HealthRead it in Step To Health
White, Beige, and Brown Types of Body Fat

Did you know there are different types of body fat? The body has white, beige, and brown adipocytes (fat cells) and it's either good or bad.



  • Eyres L., Eyres MF., Chisholm A., Brown RC., Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutr Rev, 2016. 74 (4): 267-80.
  • Backes J., Anzalone D., Hilleman D., Catini J., The clinical relevance of omega 3 fatty acids in the management of hypertriglyceridemia. Lipids Health Dis, 2016.