The polyunsaturated fats also have essential fatty acids and non-essential fatty acids. The body cannot produce essential fatty acids itself and must therefore be absorbed through food. The fats in fish are an example of essential fatty acids. These days, these are also often added to margarines and low-fat margarines. Dietary fats are known as ‘thickening’ and unhealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth: a body needs fats. Among other things for the construction of nerve cells, brain cells and hormones. But then it is about the healthy fats, or the unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats can also be subdivided into polyunsaturated fats (such as omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids) and monounsaturated fatty acids. The difference between these two is in the structure of the molecules. The polyunsaturated fats also have essential fatty acids and non-essential fatty acids. The body cannot produce essential fatty acids itself and must therefore be absorbed through food. The fats in fish are an example of essential fatty acids. These days, these are also often added to margarines and low-fat margarines. 

What are healthy fats in?

In general, vegetable fats are unsaturated fats. Cocoa butter, palm oil and coconut fat are an exception to this; these are indeed vegetable, but contain a fair amount of saturated fatty acids. They do contain MCTs (or medium-chain triglycerides), which the body can digest rather quickly and are healthier than the ‘normal’ saturated fats. Fish is the animal exception: all fish contain unsaturated fats. The fatter the fish, the more good fats.

Unsaturated fats

  • Nuts (all nuts contain mainly unsaturated fats; peanuts also contain some saturated fat)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts)
  • Oil (all types of oil)
  • Spreadable margarine
  • Liquid margarine
  • Halvarine
  • Avocado
  • Fish

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature. You can think of:

  • Cake, pastries
  • Snacks such as chips
  • Fatty meats such as sausage, bacon
  • Full-fat cheeses (Gouda cheese, cream cheese, brie)
  • Cream, whipped cream
  • Chocolate

The saturated fats increase the cholesterol level in the blood. An excessive intake can lead to the ‘silting up’ of the veins and therefore an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The intake of saturated fats is higher than recommended in almost all Dutch people.

How can I see if a product contains much or little saturated fat?

This can be found on the packaging label under the heading nutritional value. It is then important to compare similar products with each other because the composition varies from product to product.