How do the different types of fatty acids differ from one another?

Most foods contain different types of fat: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans fats; some fats are better for you than others.
  • Saturated fats can raise cholesterol and increase your likelihood of getting coronary artery disease. It is believed that diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids can help lower "bad" cholesterol, thereby, lowering the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Essential fatty acids are the polyunsaturated fatty acids the body needs to function properly. Omega-3 and omega-6 are types of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids. (Americans consume more omega-6 than omega-3, even though omega-3 is considered to be more beneficial.)
  • Trans fatty acids are created with hydrogenation to solidify liquid oils. They increase the shelf life of oils, but they also reduce the "good" cholesterol and increase "bad" cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease.

Continue Learning about Fats


At 9 calories per gram, fats can add up quickly in your diet, yet experts recommend that you get only 7% of your calorie intake from fat. Fats also affect your cholesterol, and there are both good and bad fats. The best kind of fa...

ts are called unsaturated fats, and can be found in oils like olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds. These fats can help your body get rid of cholesterol. Saturated fats often have had hydrogen added to them to make them more solid. Other saturated fats are found in cream, butter and meats. They can raise your blood cholesterol. Its wise to learn which is which and check nutrition labels to make proper choices.

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.