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The Good Fat and The Bad Fat
Today, Obesity & Fat are more or less considered synonyms of each other! The changing life styles has today resulted in around 37.5% of US population as "Obese" , with high risk/vulnerability to obesity related disorders like cardiac disorders, type 2 diabetes, few types of cancers, strokes etc (The scenario is similar in other parts of the world as well!). According to Center for Disease Control & Prevention, US (CDC US), an obese person spends on an average $1,429 more than a normal person on his/her medical bills alone! As a result, the 'obesophobic' people tend to become 'fat-phobic'-no matter what kind of fat it is! Unaware of the fact that "Not All Fats Are Bad! Some Are Good Too! And Needed By The Body!"

So, in this article, I would like to shed some light on the facts of existence & significance of The Good Fat & The Bad Fat.
[Image: good_fats_vs_bad_fats.jpg]

The Bad Fat
Let's start with the fact file of the 'Bad-Fat' of which most of the people (obese/non-obese) should actually fear-off! Most of the health conscious people fear the high intake of calories associated with the fats, due to which they tend to curb their consumption of fats. Such a strategy of avoiding fat may work well in case of 'Bad-Fats', because it's not the calories associated with the fat, but actually the nature of fat itself which has determining effects on the health/obesity. Saturated fats & Trans Fats together make "The Bad-Fat Family". Now, the reason behind their bad nature is quite chemical! If one looks into the chemical structure of Saturated fats (as the name suggests), they are full of hydrogen atoms with strong -C-H- bonds all around, making their hydrolysis extremely difficult. leading to their accumulation in the body. Saturated fats are characterized by all round presence of single bonded C and H atoms, with no double/triple bond. Image below indicates the same well:
[Image: saturated.png]
And, for a layman's recognition, beware of Beef, lamb, pork, poultry with the skin, lard, cream, butter, cheese, other whole or reduced-fat dairy products! They are all rich in Saturated Fats! Among oils, Coconut and Palm Oil are rich in saturated fats.

Trans fats on the other hand are mostly originated by man through industrial process of partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils. So, chemically, they do have double bonds, but the unique geometric configuration of the double bond(s), creating a trans isomer adds the 'bad' attribute to the other wise unsaturated fatty acid. Following is a depiction of trans and cis form of unsaturated fatty acids:
[Image: Elaidic_acid_2_D_skeletal.png] [Image: 500px_Oleic_acid_skeletal_svg.png]
trans fatty acid and cis fatty acid

The unique geometrical configuration of trans-fats allows them to pack tightly among each other, leading to very high boiling points and resistance to hydrolysis. This again leads to their accumulation in the body. Infact, they are a source of accumulation of high contents of LDL cholesterol, which is fatal for cardiac health! Common sources of trans fat include pastries, biscuits, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken, breaded, chicken nuggets, popcorn and stick margarine.

The Good Fat
As I said earlier, not all fat are bad! Yes, there are some kinds of fat whose intake can rather do the damage repair to the body. They belong to two categories (chemically): polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). PUFA and MUFA, as they are commonly called, are healthy fats, whose intake reduces the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) from the body and they don't accumulate in the body as fat droplets, lowering the risk of heart diseases.

Starting with MUFA, as the name suggests, they contain "single double bond" and their healthy variants have cis configuration (MUFA in trans configuration become trans fats!). The double bond and cis configuration makes the structure unstable, with low melting/boiling point, making them liquid at room temperature and solid when chilled. Examples include: Vegetable oils like olive, canola, peanut and sesame; Avocados; Many nuts and seeds like almonds and peanuts/peanut butter.

PUFA contain multiple double bonds in their structure, all of which are easily hydrolysable, making the PUFAs non-accumulating in the body (Again, only cis-from is healthy). Two special types, named omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are established healthy variants of PUFA, which are rather "essential fatty acids" as they cannot be synthesized in the body itself, and their intake is essential for proper biological functioning. Whereas omega-3 is essential for normal growth in youngs and synthesis of anti-inflammatory Eicosanoids in the body, omega-6 are essential for synthesis of prostaglandins (for healing of tissues and sensation of pain). PUFA consumption keeps the heart diseases at the bay and lower the LDL cholesterol levels.
[Image: 500px_ALAnumbering_svg.png]
alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3)

Common sources include: soybean, corn and safflower oils, – walnuts and sunflower seeds; and fishes like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout .

Does That Mean: Consume A Lot Of Good Fat??
No! Not at all! It will lead to weight gain. Every fat has relatively high calorie content as compared to carbohydrates/proteins. So, if you will consume excess of good fat too, it will lead to excess calorie intake, which might translate into weight gain. A better strategy is to replace all your fat consumption with good fats and follow a balanced diet regime. Use of good fat will reduce the risk of heart diseases, which is amplified when you regularly use the bad fat!

So, I hope this article gave you a brief insight into the significance of "not-completely removing" fats from your diet. There's a distinct importance of having fats in the diet, which is essential for structural development of your body (imagine, each cell is having a lipid bilayer!). So, wisdom is in choosing the right fat, and not fearing all fats out of fear of getting fat!

Sunil Nagpal
MS(Research) Scholar, IIT Delhi (Alumnus)
Advisor for the Biotech Students portal (
Computational Researcher in BioSciences at a leading MNC

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You have a pretty good explanation for the fat in both ways like good fat and the bad fat. It's really fine and good enough information anyhow, I still consider fat is bad for my health.. I do not want to see myself as a fat.. Doing exercise and have some natural diet.. Doing hope for well very soon.
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Plasma lipoproteins

The original article above refers to how low density lipoproteins (LDL) have become associated with 'bad' cholesterol. Lipoproteins, as the name suggests, are composed of both lipids and proteins. Plasma lipoproteins such as LDL are responsible for transport of triacylglycerols and cholesterol in the blood between the tissues. Cells need fat and cholesterol in order to build membranes which are essential for fluid transport and content and for structural integrity. LDL are in fact one of five groups of lipoproteins, the others being chylomicrons, very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The popular tendency to refer to VDL as 'bad cholesterol' is inaccurate as lipoproteins TRANSPORT cholesterol. This tendency has probably arisen as LDL can transport fat and cholesterol into artery walls and can activate macrophages, contributing to atherosclerosis whereas HDL (popularly and again inaccurately referred to as 'good cholesterol') tends to remove them from artery walls.

As the names suggest, the lipoproteins differ in their densities and size. However, within the subtypes of lipoproteins there is also variation in size and density. Distribution of lipoprotein profiles and of lipoprotein particle diameters appears to influence disease susceptibility and resistance. These profiles can be influenced by diet and other lifestyle choices. However, there is also a genetic element at work. Different ethnic populations have different susceptibilities
to cardiovascular disease, prompting for example the set up of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study of the characteristics of subclinical cardiovascular disease between different ethnic groups.

Lipoprotein profiles have been shown to differ by ethnicity and could help explain some differences in disease susceptibility between different ethnic groups. For example, sub-Saharan Africa has historically reported low levels of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and studies support the theory that this is related to ethnic variation in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol among other factors. In terms of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease, variants in both the apolipoprotein B (APOB) gene region, which encodes the primary apolipoproteins of chylomicrons and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and variation in the hepatic lipase (LIPC) gene, which encodes the enzyme that converts IDL to LDL, has been associated with mean VLDL and HDL diameter respectively in Caucasians.

The search goes on to determine what other ethnic differences could contribute to different cardiovascular disease susceptibilities. In the meantime, it is undoubtedly true that healthy diet choices can help swing the balance back in your favour whatever your ethnic background.


FRAZIER-WOOD, A. et al., 2013. Genetic variants associated with VLDL, LDL and HDL particle size differ with race/ethnicity. Human genetics, 132(4), pp. 405-413

MACKEY, R.H. et al., 2012. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol and particle concentrations, carotid atherosclerosis, and coronary events: MESA (multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis). United States: Elsevier Biomedical.

SLIWA, K. et al., 2012. Different lipid profiles according to ethnicity in the Heart of Soweto study cohort of de novo presentations of heart disease. Cardiovascular Journal Of Africa, 23(7), pp. 389-395
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Thank you for sharing this information. It is always a dilemma when it comes to choosing the right oil for cooking. It becomes very difficult to decide what is good and bad for health. I have switched to Saffola Total oil, which is supposed to be very healthy and safe. A lot of research goes into the making of healthy oil and Saffola Total seems to have done extensive research in the field. Researching online, I found that Saffola Total has 2X antioxidant power and their mutliseed and Losorb technology makes it the safest oil for cooking. I hope people looking for healthy oil find this helpful.
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