Fats are the nutrients that provide energy. There are many types of fats. Fats are either saturated or unsaturated. A saturated fat is one that is solid at room temperature. Animal fat is saturated fat. Coconut and palm oil and saturated plant fats. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats do not cause heart disease.
Saturated fats can be monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or saturated. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocado, nuts and vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated fats are found in seafood and vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, corn, etc.). Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in seafood and shellfish. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in the plant kingdom. Walnuts, flaxseeds are examples.
Trans fats are fats that have been changed by the process of hydrogenation – hydrogen molecules have been forced into the fat chemical structure. Trans fats are bad for you. Trans fats are created when vegetable oil is hardened (think Crisco). The hardening is done when the oil is hydrogenated. It is estimated that we eat more than 100,000 times more vegetable oils today than we did one hundred years ago. Read the label to determine the types of fat included in that food product.
The health hazard from trans fats was identified in the 1930s. The first research paper on this topic was published in 1957. Trans fats cause heart disease. After 2000, it was discovered that trans fats raise LDL cholesterol a little. The current belief at that time (and today) was that cholesterol caused heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration forced food manufacturers to put trans fats on food labels. Reduce trans fats and the risk for heart disease will decrease. Many preparers of cooked and fried foods started transitioning from trans fats to liquid vegetable oils around 2005.
Cholesterol is a very poor predictor of heart disease. Fifty percent of everyone who dies of heart disease has health cholesterol levels. However, heating vegetable oil to cook or fry introduces several health concerns. High-temperature cooking results in oxidation products. Over 100 dangerous oxidation products have been detected in a single piece of fried chicken.