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What are the types of dietary fat?

Daphne Oz
Health Education
Fats fall into two categories: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and can usually be found in animal tissues, while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are found in plants. (We see them mostly in vegetable oils, such as canola and olive oil.)
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William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology
There are two main types of dietary fat: (1) saturated fat, which is solid at room temperature and (2) unsaturated fat, which is liquid at room temperature. In general, saturated fat comes from animal products and carries the greatest health risk, while unsaturated fat comes from vegetable sources.
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Fats fall into two basic categories, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (i.e., butter) whereas unsaturated fats are more liquid at room temperature (i.e., oil). Of the two, saturated fats are more commonly associated with heart disease and obesity and therefore, must be more closely watched in the diet.
All dietary fats contain different percentages of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat. Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products. Unsaturated fats mainly come from plants and can be monounsaturated (olive or canola oil) or polyunsaturated (safflower, sunflower, corn, or other oils). Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can be processed to make trans-fatty acids. Both trans-fatty acids and saturated fats are damaging to cardiovascular health.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Dietary fats fall into four major categories. They include:
  • monounsaturated fats
  • polyunsaturated fats
  • saturated fats
  • trans fats
As a rule, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -- vegetable oils, for instance -- are liquid at room temperature. There are some exceptions: Avocados and nuts are good sources of monounsaturated fats, too. Meanwhile, saturated fats such as butter are usually solid at room temperature. (Though dairy cream is also a rich source). Trans fats are vegetable oils that have been specially treated to make them more solid; they're often used in commercial food processing.

While many people think all dietary fats are unhealthy, that's far from true. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may lower the risk for heart disease when consumed in moderation. It's saturated and trans fats that promote heart disease and other health threats. Limit them in your diet as much as possible.

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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.