Some fats can be beneficial to your health. Unsaturated fats, which include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, can improve your cholesterol levels and promote a healthier heart. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in various foods, including fish and walnuts. Monounsaturated fats can also be used to make recipes healthier. For example, when a recipe calls for butter, consider substituting that butter with a monounsaturated fat such as olive oil or a polyunsaturated fat such as sunflower oil.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats help reduce "bad" cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, while increasing high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, a protective cholesterol often referred to as "good" cholesterol. LDL can build up in the bloodstream and form plaque that lines the walls of the arteries, which can decrease blood flow to the heart and increase a person's risk of heart disease.
Though saturated fats can be part of a healthy diet, it's best to make sure consumption of saturated fats is minimal. Sources of saturated fat include meat, poultry with skin still attached and whole-milk dairy products. When eating meat, look for lean cuts with no visible fat. When preparing poultry, peel the skin off. And when enjoying dairy products, choose low-fat or nonfat products.