What is the Good Fats 101TM Program?
The Good Fats 101™ program was created to serve as a resource for professionals working in nutrition and wellness, foodservice and food manufacturing. The goal of the program is to provide the latest nutrition science information and resources that will support efforts to educate internal audiences, clients and health-conscious consumers about good fats and their positive impact on health.
The website offers evidence-based information, tools and consumer-friendly materials. There are resources, such as shopping lists and recipes, which can help you educate your clients, consumers and colleagues. We also have a blog where common consumer questions are addressed and recent research is highlighted.
What is the Difference Between Good Fats and Bad Fats?
On any nutrition label, four different kinds of fat may be listed: trans, saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Put simply, some fats are considered ‘good’ because they can have positive health benefits, and some fats are considered ‘bad’ because they may negatively impact your health.
“Bad Fats” include trans and saturated fats. They:
- may raise ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL)
- may lower ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL)
- may increase the risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke
The American Heart Association recommends less than 1% of your daily calories be devoted to trans fats, and less than 7% be devoted to saturated fats.
“Good Fats” are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats:
- may improve cholesterol levels
- may help reduce risk factors of heart disease and stroke
- may help reduce risk of diabetes
The American Heart Association recommends 15-25% of daily calories should be devoted to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Is Saturated Fat Considered a Bad Fat?
A few years ago, a top clinical nutrition journal1 published a research study which called into question whether saturated fats are actually bad for you. Since then, many well-respected scientists have disagreed, fueling the fight over saturated fats.
The bottom line:
For more than 30 years, science has shown that a diet rich in good fats, where unsaturated fats REPLACE saturated and trans fats, has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk. The American Heart Association maintains its recommendation to keep saturated fat less than 7% by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. While the industry’s understanding of fats is evolving and new research is continuing to emerge, this position is currently widely accepted.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy?
Coconut oil is popular these days. Some claim it can help control blood sugar, assist in weight loss and even whiten teeth. But when it comes to research, the health benefits of coconut oil are still emerging.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, similar to butter. It contains 86% saturated fat, which is commonly understood to negatively impact heart health by raising cholesterol. Some critics argue that because coconut oil has more than 50% medium chain triglycerides, known as lauric acid, the oil is used more quickly by the body for energy and doesn’t travel or build up in the blood stream.
Until researchers can complete further studies to measure the impact of coconut oil on long-term health, a safer choice is to incorporate more unsaturated fats, such as canola oil and olive oil, into the diet.
For more information on the latest coconut oil research, download the International Food Information Council’s fact sheet.
Where Does Canola Oil Come From and How Does it Compare to Soybean Oil?
Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, which is primarily grown in North America. The plant contains pods with seeds, which are crushed to extract the oil. The oil is refined and bottled as canola oil.
While canola oil is higher in monounsaturated fats, which are more stable, soybean oil provides polyunsaturated fats. Canola oil also contains less saturated fat than soybean oil.
Is Canola the Same as Rapeseed?
No. Canola was bred from rapeseed, but their chemical compositions and nutritional profiles are very different.
Rapeseed naturally contains a high percentage of erucic acid, a substance that may be harmful to human health. In the late 1960s, plant scientists used traditional plant breeding to replace almost all of rapeseed’s erucic acid with oleic acid, a type of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. To be called canola anywhere in the world, a plant must have 2 percent or less erucic acid in the oil. Since 1990, erucic acid levels in canola oil have ranged from 0.5 to 1.0 percent, which is in compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. This means canola oil is very different from rapeseed oil, which is 30 to 60 percent erucic acid. To learn more about the origins of canola oil, visit the Canola Council of Canada’s website.
Where is Omega-9 Canola Oil Found?
Omega-9 Canola Oil was developed specifically for use in foodservice and food manufacturing and is sold under a variety of brand names, including Nutra-Clear NT Ultra, Canola Harvest HiLo, Frymax Sun Supreme, Mel-Fry Advanced Liquid Fry Oil, and verraUltra9.
Omega-9 Canola Oil is not currently available at the retail level; however, it can be found in many foodservice menu items and retail foods labeled with canola or high oleic canola oil. It’s likely you’ll see it when a product lists ‘high oleic canola oil’ on the ingredient list. Additionally, Omega-9 Canola Oil eliminates the need for preservatives, so if you don’t see any on a label, then it most likely contains Omega-9 Canola Oil.
Should I Be Concerned About the Use of Hexane In Oil Processing?
Hexane is a solvent that has been used to extract oils from plant material since the 1930s. There has been no evidence that points to any risk to consumer health as it relates to this process. Additionally, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, it is estimated the ingestion of hexane from all food sources is less than 2 percent of the daily intake from all other sources, such as gasoline fumes. Thus, there is very little reason to be concerned about trace levels of hexane in vegetable oils.
What are Omega-7 Fatty Acids?
Omega-7s are an emerging area of research in the fats and oils world. They have a double bond at the seventh carbon in the fatty acid chain. Palmitic and palmitoleic acid are both found in omega-7s. These two fatty acids are found together in only a few natural food sources, and they may have opposite effects on health — palmitic acid increases risk for heart disease, but palmitoleic acid is often linked to health benefits.
It is too early to decide what impacts these fatty acids ultimately have on human health or what role they may play in food products. Good Fats 101 will share new research as it is completed.
Have a question about dietary fats? Contact the Good Fats 101 team, and we will provide you with an answer in a timely manner.
1 Siri-Tarino, P., Sun, Q., Hu, F., & Krauss, R. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91, 535-546.