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smart choices fat
Naluri2 min read

Smart Choices: Fats

Fat is a type of nutrient, just like protein and carbohydrates. Your body needs some fat for energy, to absorb vitamins, and to protect your heart and brain health. For years we’ve been told that eating fat will cause health problems, but now we know that not all fat is the same. If you're wondering whether fats are important, the answer is, yes! Dietary fats are essential, even in a healthy diet. They support bodily functions and cell growth, aid in cooking and, most importantly, make food tasty.

However, fats eaten in excess can cause weight gain and impact health. Fortunately, certain types of fat have heart-protective benefits. The key is to choose healthy fats. 

There are a few different types of fats- saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat. Different dietary fats have different impacts on health:

1. Saturated fat 

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are mainly found in red meat, coconut oil, cream (e.g., santan), full cream milk, butter, and commercially prepared food. The average diet contains too much saturated fat. This is why replacing saturated and unsaturated fat can reduce the risk of heart disease. Try to reduce saturated fats in your diet.

2. Trans fat 

Trans fat is formed when a liquid fat is turned into a solid fat through hydrogenation. This manufactured substance may appear as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil/fats on food ingredient lists. Trans fat is commonly found in processed food such as margarine, shortening, and bakery products (e.g., cookies and pastries). Taking too much trans fat will raise heart-harmful LDL cholesterol and decrease beneficial HDL cholesterol. Try to reduce trans fats in your diet.

3. Monounsaturated fat

Go for healthy fat, unsaturated fat! Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are different in chemical structure and have slightly different health benefits. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help lower cholesterol levels when used instead of saturated fat. Examples of food rich in monounsaturated fats are avocado, certain nuts, and olive oil. Try to increase the intake of monounsaturated fats in your diet.

4. Polyunsaturated fat

There are two types of essential polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6. Our body cannot synthesize these essential fats and must get them from food. Although the average Malaysian does not get enough omega-3 fats, research has shown that a diet rich in omega-3s may help to prevent and reduce symptoms of depression, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, well as sharpen your memory, and balance your mood! Sources of omega-3 fats include salmon, mackerel, eggs, kale, chia seeds, and spinach. Try to increase the intake of polyunsaturated fats in your diet.

Fats occur naturally and in many processed foods. Fats can affect your health depending on how much and which type you eat. As a rule, balancing fat right in your diet through eating less saturated and trans fats and replacing them with unsaturated fats will help you to eat healthier.  It’s important to focus on eating more beneficial “good” fats and limiting harmful “bad” fats.


This article was brought to you by Naluri Dietitians. Naluri empowers you to develop healthy lifestyle habits, achieve meaningful health outcomes, and be healthier and happier through personalised coaching, structured programmes, self-guided lessons, and health tools and devices. Download the Naluri App today or contact for more information on utilising digital health coaching and therapy to become a happier, healthier you.

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