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Types of Fats - Topic Overview

Fats are nutrients that give you energy. Fats have 9 calories in each gram. Fats help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats are either saturated or unsaturated, and most foods with fat have both types. But usually there is more of one kind of fat than the other.

Saturated fat

Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, which is why it is also known as "solid fat." It is mostly in animal foods, such as milk, cheese, and meat. Poultry and fish have less saturated fat than red meat. Saturated fat is also in tropical oils, such as coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter. You'll find tropical oils in many snacks and in nondairy foods, such as coffee creamers and whipped toppings. Foods made with butter, margarine, or shortening (cakes, cookies, and other desserts) have a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol. A healthy diet has less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat.1

Trans fat

This is a fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life of fat and makes the fat harder at room temperature. Harder fat makes crispier crackers and flakier pie crusts. Trans fat can raise your cholesterol, so eat as little trans fat as possible. You'll find it in:

  • Processed foods.
  • Snack foods, such as chips and crackers.
  • Cookies.
  • Some margarine and salad dressings.
  • Foods made with shortening and partially hydrogenated oils.
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