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Are All Fats Bad?

Are All Fats Bad?

Q: The labels on my foods are so confusing! I think trans-fats are bad but what’s the difference between those and the regular kind of fat? I mean, isn’t all fat bad? Help!

A: No. No. No. All fats are not bad! Our bodies need some fats to be healthy (you’ve heard all the talk about omega-3 fats, I’m sure)

However, I know that nutrition labels, no matter how simply designed, still look like a bunch of numbers on a grid.

The section that you are looking at called “total fat” specifies the amount of total fat plus the amounts of the two most dangerous types of fats—saturated and trans.

You’ll notice that for “total fat” and “saturated fat” there is a “% daily value”. This shows you what percent of your total DAILY calories would be contained in the fats in one serving of the food in the box. In general, you should aim for no more than 35% of your daily calories from total fat and no more than 10% from saturated fat.

Notice that “trans fat” does not have a “% daily value”. This is because no amount of trans fat is safe. If you are concerned about your heart health, try to avoid all trans fats.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at

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Dr. Brent

As an undergraduate, Dr. Brent Ridge majored in public health and environmental science, studying the way the state of the natural environment impacts our health choices. As a physician, he specializes in the field of aging. Send your health questions to Dr. Brent at


+ add your own
2:46PM PST on Feb 19, 2013

good to know

3:30PM PST on Nov 18, 2012

This is crap. Saturated fat is NOT bad for you! In fact, it is extremely good for you! Saturated fats serve critical roles in the human body. They enhance calcium absorption and immune function, aid in body’s synthesis of the essential fatty acids, provide a rich source of fat soluble vitamins, and make up 1/2 of cell membrane structure. As for trans fat, YES, they are very bad for you. But don't mistake man-made trans fat with naturally occurring trans fat from grass fed dairy (conjugated linoleic acid or CLA) which is trans fat but its natural and extremely healthy. People are unhealthy because they eat grains which are full of anti-nutrients. If you want to be healthy eat more fat from good foods (organic and pastured eggs, meat, and full-fat raw dairy, avocados, nuts and seeds.)

9:11AM PST on Nov 18, 2012

thanks for sharing

3:22AM PST on Jan 4, 2011

All... so... confusing... is the only way to eat properly to become a farmer and grow food for yourself?

4:46AM PST on Nov 23, 2010

i like my fat in my ice cream

7:31PM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

Thanks very much.

7:05AM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

Good Article!

5:05AM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

Thanks for the article.

11:25AM PST on Nov 20, 2009

Thanks for the info. =)

12:26AM PDT on Jun 15, 2009


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Thanks for the information and very useful buying seasons.

Get in there you big furry oaf, I don't care what you smell! Cats!


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