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How Fat Affects Health

Your body needs fat for cell growth and nutrient absorption, but did you know the type of fat you eat has a larger impact on your health than the amount? The four types (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans) have different shapes, and are used differently in your body:

The entertaining cartoon "What is Fat?" explains differences between the types of fats.

Generally speaking, unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and can lower your risks of heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol. However, eating too much of any type of fat causes weight gain, which is a health risk [1]. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature- butter, coconut oil, and beef, chicken, and pork fats are considered less healthy than unsaturated fats.

Trans fats, found in foods containing "partially hydrogenated oil," increase LDL "bad" cholesterol, and decrease HDL "good" cholesterol [1], thus increasing your risk of heart disease. As of 2013, trans fats are no longer designated Generally Recognized as Safe in human foods, though they are still used in many processed and fried foods [2]. The Food and Drug Administration states foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving may be labeled "0 g" trans fat, or left undeclared [3].

Reading food labels increases your awareness of how much and what kind of fat is in your food. 3 tips:

1. Limit foods with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list

2. Be wary of foods with over 15% daily value of saturated fat per serving

3. Know how many servings you are eating at a time (a 3-oz serving of meat is the size of your computer mouse!)

For more information, read Fats 101 from the American Heart Association!

Next week's topic is high blood pressure.

Workplace Wellness Wednesday is an awareness bulletin to help you make healthy lifestyle choices. It is not a substitute for your healthcare provider.


1. Mayo Clinic. Dietary fats: Know which types to choose. Accessed February 12, 2017.

3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: Trans Fatty Acids in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrient Content Claims, Health Claims; Small Entity Compliance Guide. Accessed February 12, 2017.

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