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Dietary Fat - Essential to Health

Dietary fat is essential to health, but the type and amount is very important! Fat provides an energy source, transports fat soluble vitamins, protects our organs, and provides an ingredient to make hormones.   

Not all fats are created equally.  Use this chart to distinguish between bad fats (those that had bad effects on health), and good fats (those that have good effects on health).

Bad Fats

Better Fats

Saturated Fats

Trans Fats

Monounsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated Fats

Commonly found in these foods

-Mainly from animals (choose the leaner options) – beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat, lard, cream, butter, cheese, whole dairy products

-Some plant foods – palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils

-Baked goods – pastries, biscuits, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, doughnuts, and cookies

-Fried foods – French fries, fried chicken, breaded chicken nuggets, breaded fish

-Snack foods – popcorn, crackers

-Stick margarine and vegetable shortening

-Vegetable oils – olive, canola, peanut, and sesame

-Avocados and olives

-Many nuts and seeds – almonds, peanuts/peanut butter, macadamia nuts, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds

-High in Omega-6 and Omega-3 (ALA): vegetable oils (soybean, corn, and safflower); nuts and seeds (walnuts, and sunflower seeds)

-High in Omega-3 (EPA & DHA): fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout; flaxseed

Effect on Heart Health

-Raise bad cholesterol

-May be high in cholesterol

-Increase risk of heart disease

-Raise bad cholesterol

-May lower good cholesterol

-Increase risk of heart disease

-Reduce bad cholesterol

-May lower risk of heart disease

-Reduce bad cholesterol

-May lower risk of heart disease


-Solid at room temperature

-Solid at room temperature

-Liquid at room temperature, but solid when chilled

-Liquid at room temperature, but solid when chilled

Dietary fat roundup - reminders about fat intake:
  • Remember, saturated fat, trans fats, coconut, and palm oils increase risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Monounsaturated, Omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fats can decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, and decrease inflammation.
  • Try to trim all fat and/or skin from beef and chicken breast before cooking.
  • Limit or avoid foods that are fried, creamy salad dressings, mayonnaise, gravy, butter, and margarine.
  • Most fast food items are extremely high in fat, so make sure to choose healthy choices!
Do you need more reasons to add add healthy dietary fat to your diet?  Check out these 10 Fat Facts!
How were your blood test results?  Are you interested in decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides, total cholesterol; or increasing HDL (good cholesterol)?  Contact your wellness coach for dietary approaches to decrease cholesterol or click here.


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