Fat & Cholesterol: What’s Good, What’s Bad?

Fats and cholesterol get a bad reputation from the health industry, but you actually need both to survive! Fats and cholesterol aid in important biological functions, such as bolstering our immune system, protecting the liver, forming cell membranes and building strong bones. Here are some tips for making sure you get the right fats and cholesterols in the right amounts:

  • Include saturated fats in your diet, but use sparingly
  • Cold-pressed seed oils are best for salads dressings (flax, hemp)
  • Saturated fats sources are best for sautéing and baking (high heat)
  • Monounsaturated fats are best for no heat or low-heat sauté
  • Polyunsaturated fats are an essential sources of Omega 3s and Omega 6s
  • Eat a cold water fish, such as swordfish, tuna, or salmon twice a week
  • Eat nuts and seeds every day (I recommend hemp, ground flax, pumpkin, and chia mixed in a green smoothie or sprinkle on soups and salads)
  • Avoid trans-fats (polyunsaturated oils that have been hydrogenated for shelf-life and stability). Avoid foods with ingredients like “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” in foods.

So what should I eat?

Great question! Here’s a list of healthy food sources that provide the saturated and unsaturated fats your body needs to maintain optimum health:

Saturated Fats Monounsaturated Fats Polyunsaturated Fats
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Palm oil
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Flax seed oil
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Poultry
  • Fish oil
  • Evening primrose oil

You’ll find that “good” cholesterol foods tend to be found in foods with unsaturated fat. “Good” cholesterol is known as “HDL,” which stands for “high density lipids.” “Bad” cholesterol is referred to as “LDL,” or “low density lipids.” Desirable blood cholesterol levels are LDL < 130 and HDL > 40.

Healthy Choices (HDL-Boosting) Unhealthy Choices (LDL-Boosting)
  • Olive oil
  • Beans (Legumes)
  • Avocados
  • High fiber fruit
  • Fatty fish
  • Flax
  • Chia seeds
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains/oats
  • Eggs*
  • High-fat dairy
  • Red meat
  • Fried foods
  • Trans-fats
  • Processed foods
  • Baked goods
  • Eggs*
*Eggs increase LDL but also increase HDL, so it keeps a balance. Eggs increase fluffy LDL, not small dense LDL.

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