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How Does Unsaturated Fat Affect Cholesterol

Does Unsaturated Fat Increase Hdl

Are Saturated Fats RAISING Your LDL Cholesterol?

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. In this manner, does unsaturated fat affect cholesterol?

Unsaturated fatPolyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated carbon bonds. Both of these unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. Eaten in moderation, both kinds of unsaturated fats may help to improve your blood cholesterol when used in place of saturated and trans fats.

Also Know, what foods are high in unsaturated fat? Dietary sources of unsaturated fats include:

  • avocados and avocado oil.
  • peanut butter and peanut oil.
  • vegetable oils, such as sunflower, corn, or canola.
  • fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel.
  • nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, cashews, and sesame seeds.

Thereof, is unsaturated fat good for you?

Unsaturated fats are considered the ‘healthy’ fats and they’re important to include as part of a healthy diet. These fats help reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol levels and have other health benefits when they replace saturated fats in the diet.

What effect does polyunsaturated fat have on HDL and LDL levels?

Polyunsaturated fats decrease LDL and total cholesterol 8% to 12% when compared with saturated fatty acids, Gillingham says. Consuming EPA and DHA, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, can improve blood triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels, she says.

Is Cholesterol A Fatty Acid

Cholesterol is an unsaturated alcohol in the steroid family of compounds it is essential for the proper functioning of all animal cells and is a central component of their cell membranes. Triglycerides are fatty acid esters of glycerol which are the primary lipid portion of animal food fats which fat deposits.

Unsaturated Saturated And Trans Fat: The Good And The Bad

by Health Professional

After thoroughly bashing trans fatty acids in my last blog on dietary fat and cholesterol, I thought it only fair to round out the field with a brief comment on fat in general and how it affects cholesterol.

What is fat? Fat is a naturally occurring substance that is made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms bonded together. It is one of the highest dietary energy sources available, the other significant sources being sugars and carbohydrates, and it is an essential part of our diet.

Fats are described as saturated or unsaturated, depending upon whether the carbon atoms are full of hydrogen atoms or have room for more . This level of saturation determines the physical structure of the fat. For example, animal lard has a high amount of saturated fat and is therefore a solid at room temperature. Olive oil, on the other hand, has a high amount of unsaturated fat is therefore a liquid at room temperature.

To further complicate matters, unsaturated fat can also be described as either mono or polyunsaturated. This just refers to the number of a certain type of chemical bond found in the fat. And lastly, unsaturated fats can be saturated with additional hydrogen atoms and thereby be converted into saturated fats. This process is called “hydrogenation” or “partial hydrogenation” and creates a saturated fat called trans fatty acid.

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Whats The Difference Between Ldl And Hdl

Now lets break down cholesterol in order to figure out its relationship with saturated fat in our bodies. According to the CDC , cholesterol is broken up into two different categories of lipoproteins, LDL and HDL . LDL is often referred to as the bad cholesterol while HDL is promoted as the good cholesterol.

While LDLs can actually increase your risk of health issues like heart disease, HDLs can lower your risk of heart disease by either dissolving excess cholesterol or carrying extra cholesterol through the liver to be discarded from the body. So while cholesterol gets an overarching scary name it should be LDLs we should be scared of and HDLs which we supply our bodies with.

Limiting Saturated And Trans Fats

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Here are some ways to lower your intake of saturated and trans fats:

  • Maintain a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Also limit red meat and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.
  • Opt for naturally occurring unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil.
  • Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than saturated fat or hydrogenated vegetable oils.
  • Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter and choose soft margarines over harder stick forms. Look for 0 g trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label.
  • Doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods high in trans fat. Dont eat them often.
  • Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These foods are very high in fat, and its likely to be trans fat.
  • Limit fried fast food. Commercial shortening and deep-frying fats are still made by hydrogenation and contain saturated and trans fats.

Consider using a food diary to keep track of what you eat. Its a handy way to evaluate the healthy, not-so-healthy and unhealthy foods youre making a part of your everyday diet.

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Other Concerns Over Saturated Fat Intake

Although its effect on heart disease is by far the most researched and contested, saturated fat has also been associated with other negative health effects, such as increased inflammation and mental decline.

For example, a study in 12 women found that, when compared with a diet high in unsaturated fat from hazelnut oil, a diet high in saturated fat from a blend of 89% palm oil increased the pro-inflammatory proteins interleukin-1 beta and interleukin-6 .

Some evidence suggests that saturated fats encourage inflammation partly by mimicking the actions of bacterial toxins called lipopolysaccharides, which have strong immunostimulant behaviors and can induce inflammation .

However, research in this area is far from conclusive, with some studies, including a 2017 review of randomized controlled trials, finding no significant associations between saturated fat and inflammation .

Additionally, some studies have demonstrated that saturated fat may have adverse effects on mental function, appetite, and metabolism. Yet, human research in these areas is limited and findings are inconsistent (

More studies are necessary to investigate these potential links before strong conclusions can be made.


Though saturated fat intake may increase heart disease risk factors, research hasnt shown a significant link between it and heart disease itself. Some studies indicate that it may negatively affect other health aspects, but more research is needed.

Temperature Dictates Fat Saturation

Whether or not a plant contains saturated or unsaturated fatty acids depends on the temperature in which it was grown a fish in cold water would be stiff if it was made of saturated fatty acids, so the fat content in that fish remains unsaturated of necessity. A pineapple growing near the beaches on a tropical island will contain saturated fats because in that tropical climate, the plant would oxidize and die if it used unsaturated fats. The temperature in which the plant is grown dictates the fats used.

Similarly, if you consume fish that live in frigid, 35-degree waters of the Arctic, youre eating a fat that is extremely unsaturated and assimilating it into your body. Since the human body is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit and rich in oxygen, the result will be devastating as the fats oxidize, depleting your antioxidant reserves and causing damage throughout your body.

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Eating Fat Leads To Weight Gain

A common diet myth is that eating high fat foods causes you to gain weight.

While its true that eating too much of any macronutrient, including fat, makes you gain weight, consuming fat-rich foods as part of a healthy, balanced diet does not lead to weight gain.

On the contrary, consuming fat-rich foods may help you lose weight and keep you satisfied between meals.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that eating high fat foods, including whole eggs, avocados, nuts, and full-fat dairy, may help boost weight loss and feelings of fullness .

Whats more, dietary patterns that are very high in fat, including ketogenic and low carb, high fat diets, have been shown to promote weight loss .

Of course, quality matters. Consuming highly processed foods that are rich in fats, such as fast food, sugary baked goods, and fried foods, may increase your risk of weight gain .


Fat is a healthy and essential part of a balanced diet. Adding fat to meals and snacks may facilitate weight loss by boosting feelings of fullness.

How Monounsaturated Fats Affect Your Health

What does fat do to your body?

Monounsaturated fats are good for your health in several ways:

  • They can help lower your LDL cholesterol level. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that can cause clogged, or blocked, arteries . Keeping your LDL level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Monounsaturated fats help develop and maintain your cells.

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Recommended Blood Cholesterol And Triglyceride Concentrations

Total blood cholesterol measurements include cholesterol in both the LDL and HDL lipoproteins. However, LDL and HDL lipoproteins have different functions in the body. LDL lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver into the body. HDL lipoproteins are released from the liver and circulate in the blood to pick up excess cholesterol from the body and carry it back to the liver to be removed from the body. Higher LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Higher HDL cholesterol decreases your risk of heart disease. Measuring LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is a better indicator of heart disease risk than just total cholesterol alone.

Total cholesterol concentrations below 200 mg/dl are desirable. Total cholesterol concentrations between 200 and 239 mg/dl are considered borderline, and concentrations over 240 mg/dl are high. LDL-cholesterol concentrations below 100 mg/dl are desirable. LDL-cholesterol concentrations between 130 and 159 mg/dl are considered borderline, and LDL-cholesterol concentrations over 160 mg/dl are high. Triglyceride concentrations below 150 mg/dl are desirable. Triglyceride concentrations between 150 and 199 mg/dl are considered borderline. Triglyceride concentrations over 200 mg/dl are considered high. HDL-cholesterol concentrations equal to or above 60 mg/dl are desirable, HDL cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dl are considered low. Exercising, losing excess weight, and not smoking promote higher HDL-cholesterol concentrations.

Continue Learning About Fats

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.

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How Much Fat Should I Eat

Fats are very high in energy so they can lead to weight gain, so you need to keep an eye on how much you eat in total.

About a third of your energy should come from fat. Thats about 70g for a woman and 90g for a man per day.

Keep the amount of saturated fat you eat down by swapping foods high in saturated fats for foods which are higher in unsaturated fats or low in fat altogether. Dont simply eat more unsaturated fats as you could eat too much fat in total.

Check the labels on foods to see how much fat and saturated fat they contain. Some labels are colour-coded which helps you to make a quick decision.

The Myth Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease

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I would say its more of a myth since the idea that saturated fat causes high cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease is very old. Recent studies have shown that saturated fat doesnt increase the chance of heart disease. Any type of fat that you consume will increase your cholesterol, however, depending on what you eat it could raise HDL or LDL cholesterol, says Dr. Djordjevic.

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What Are Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are considered the healthiest fats because they improve cholesterol, help reduce inflammation , and help decrease the overall risk of developing heart disease. The main source of unsaturated fats are plant-based foods. These fats are usually liquid at room temperature. There are two types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats are considered one of the healthiest sources of fat in the diet. These fats should make up most of your daily fat intake. Good sources of monounsaturated fats include:

  • Olive, canola and peanut oils.
  • Most nuts, nut oils and nut butters .
  • Olives.

Good sources of Polyunsaturated Fats include:

  • Safflower oil.
  • Flax oil and flax seeds.
  • Sunflower oil.
  • Canola Oil.

What Is The Bad Type Of Cholesterol

Cholesterol travels through the blood to proteins called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body: LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, which makes up most of your bodys cholesterol.

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Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease

While the topic is still hotly debated among healthcare professionals, recent research has shown no consistent link between saturated fat intake and heart disease.

Its true that saturated fat increases well-known heart disease risk factors, such as LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B .

However, saturated fat intake tends to increase the amount of large, fluffy LDL particles, but decrease the amount of smaller, denser LDL particles that are linked to heart disease.

Plus, research has demonstrated that certain types of saturated fat may increase heart-protective HDL cholesterol .

In fact, numerous large studies have found no consistent association between saturated fat intake and heart disease, heart attack, or heart-disease-related death (

24 ).

Remember that there are many types of saturated fats, all with different effects on health. Your diet as a whole rather than the breakdown of your macronutrient intake is most important when it comes to your overall health and disease risk.

Nutritious foods high in saturated fat like full fat yogurt, unsweetened coconut, cheese, and dark cuts of poultry can certainly be included in a healthy, well-rounded diet.


Although saturated fat intake increases the risk of certain heart disease risk factors, current research shows that its not significantly linked to heart disease development.

What Are Alternatives To Replace Saturated Fats In The Foods I Eat

Fat: Part 2 of 4 “Saturated, Unsaturated & Trans fats, Cholesterol & Fossil Fuels”

As part of an overall heart-healthy dietary pattern, choose lean meats and poultry without skin. Prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.Eat foods made with liquid vegetable oil but not tropical oils. It also means eating fish and nuts. You also might try to replace some of the meat you eat with beans or legumes.

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Is All Cholesterol Bad

Not all cholesterol in the blood is bad. We need some cholesterol in the blood to function properly, but if there is too much it can clog up the arteries, leading to and stroke.

Cholesterol is carried by the blood in two main forms:

  • LDL or bad cholesterol. This carries cholesterol around your body and to your arteries. It can build up in the artery walls.
  • HDL or good cholesterol. This picks up excess cholesterol from the arteries and takes it to the liver to be broken down or removed from the body as waste.

The ideal is to have a low LDL level and a high HDL level.

Eating too much saturated fat raises your LDL, or bad, cholesterol, and replacing it with unsaturated fats helps to raise your HDL, or good, cholesterol.

What should your cholesterol levels be?

The amount of cholesterol in your blood can be measured with a blood test. Use the table as a general guide to what your cholesterol level should be.

Not All Saturated Fat Is Created Equal

You can find saturated fat from animal and plant-based sources, says Dr. Nikola Djordjevic MD from The saturated fat itself is made up of several fatty acids, so saturated fat can never be purely saturated as it varies .

Saturated fat that has higher HDL cholesterol content is better to incorporate into your diet than its counterpart LDL cholesterol, says Dr. Djordjevic . I would say eat less saturated fat from animal sources since it raises your LDL cholesterol. Eating healthy and including lots of fruits, veggies and nuts can help reduce cholesterol .

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The Ins And Outs Of Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are considered the healthy fats and theyre important to include as part of a healthy diet. These fats help reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol levels and have other health benefits when they replace saturated fats in the diet.

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, unlike saturated fats that are solid at room temperature. Healthy unsaturated fats come in two main forms, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These differ in their chemical structure and they have slightly different health benefits as a result.

Eating Fat Increases Diabetes Risk

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Many dietary patterns recommended for the treatment of type 2 and gestational diabetes are low in fat. This is due to the misconception that consuming dietary fat may increase diabetes risk.

Although consuming certain fat-rich foods, such as trans fat, fatty baked goods, and fast food, can indeed increase your risk of diabetes, research has shown that other high fat foods may offer protection against its development .

For example, fatty fish, full fat dairy, avocados, olive oil, and nuts are high fat foods that have all been shown to improve blood sugar and insulin levels and potentially protect against diabetes development .

While some evidence suggests that a greater intake of saturated fat may increase diabetes risk, more recent studies have found no significant association.

For example, a 2019 study in 2,139 people found no association between the consumption of animal- and plant-based fat or total fat and the risk of type 2 diabetes .

The most important factor in reducing your diabetes risk is the overall quality of your diet, not the breakdown of your macronutrient intake.


Fat-rich foods do not increase diabetes risk. In fact, certain fat-rich foods may help protect against the diseases development.

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