Good Fat/Bad Fat

Let’s face it, fat has gotten a bad rap lately.  Of course not all fat is bad, and many are good for you…and, in fact necessary for good health.  Like a lot of things in nutrition it can be a bit confusing, so lets try and bring some clarity to this admittedly confusing topic, let me just say up front this is the current thinking, always subject to to change as we learn more…..

Of course a brief newsletter like this can’t cover all of it, but a few of the basics will take you a long way.  As I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters we now have a new segment “Ask Karla”.  If after reading this you have some questions about nutrition in general, or fats in particular, please email them to (I know some of you have already) and Karla will answer them in an upcoming issue of the newsletter.

The “UNS”
There are two types of unsaturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.  The polyunsaturated fats are found in canola oil, walnuts, avocado, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil.  The theme is these are all from plant sources, in general plant-based fats are heart healthy (“good fat”).

Omega 3’s
The American Heart Assoc (AHA) recommends eating fish high in Omega-3’s.  If you are a regular reader of this newsletter you know I wrote about this topic last year.  The newsletter was called “Sounds Fishy” and you can access it on my website under the “newsletter” tab on the home page.  To briefly review though, the AHA recommends consuming about 1 gram (1000 milligrams) of the Omega-3’s, roughly the amount you would get in 2 to 3 ounces of salmon.  Another reason why fish is good for bariatric patients, it is high in protein and has the “good” fat.

Solid Fat
Saturated fat is the kind to avoid.  The easiest way to think about it is saturated fat is the kind the comes from four legged animals walking around on land (as opposed to plants and fish, which have the good fat).  It is also the kind of fat that is generally solid at room temperature, as opposed to the unsaturated fats which are usually a liquid at room temperature.  So for example, red meat and most dairy (regular milk, full fat cheeses, and butter) are very high in saturated fat.  So that is why you will hear Karla and I recommend lean meats (fat has been trimmed away) and non fat milk and cheeses if you are going to have dairy.  Remember we aren’t saying you have to avoid all red meat and dairy just the fat in red meat and dairy.  By the way there are two plant sources of saturated fat, palm and coconut oil, which should also be avoided.

Trans Fat
The medical/scientific community has reached a pretty clear consensus on trans fat….and it two thumbs down!  Trans fats have hydrogen artificially added (“hydrogenation” is what the process is called), which is done to increase a products shelf life and prevent spoiling.  Unfortunately, in addition to preventing spoilage it also increases LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).  Also a food can advertise itself as having “zero trans fat” as long as it has less the 0.5 grams of trans fat, in other words it doesn’t really have to be zero, just pretty close.  Trans fats are so bad, however that I wouldn’t take a chance.  Read the ingredients, if you see any fat that has been “partially hydrogenated” I would avoid it as there is probably some trans fat in the product.


This is a bit of a simplification, but in general unsaturated fats and omega-3’s are good, these mostly come from plant and fish sources and are generally liquid at room temperature (think of canola or olive oil)

Saturated Fats and Trans Fat are not good.  Remember saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature (think of butter and cheese) and mostly come from animal sources, plus palm and coconut oil.  Trans fats should be avoided, remember if the ingredients have a “partially hydrogenated” oil on the back there is probably some trans fat in the product, mostly seen in baked goods.

Support Groups: 

This month we are doing something a little different with the support group.  We will meet at the usual place (200 South Orange Ave, Livingston, NJ) and then go out for a trip to Trader Joe’s in Florham Park for some real life shopping tips!  Perhaps you can pick some products up and look at the fat content and type of fats!

The last one this month will be on Wednesday the 24th for patients who had surgery more than one year ago, starting at 6 pm

The subject of my last newsletter was my new office in Ocean County (Bayville) so for the Ocean County patients I found out about a support group at Community Medical Center.  It is the first friday of the month in Auditorium A from 7-9 pm.  It is for anyone who has had bariatric surgery (gastric bypass, or band).  If you would like additional information call or email either of the following two individuals:

Nannette Ryan-Mckendrick at 732-773-5934 (
Jack Martin at 732-341-2834 (

Informational Seminar

As I’ve mentioned in my recent newsletters I will be having patient informational seminars at my Millburn office every other wednesday starting this wednesday the 24th.  The seminar will start at 6:30 pm at the office: 225 Millburn Ave, Suite 204, Millburn, NJ.  If you or anyone you know is interested in attending please email us at

End Quote:

“To educate a man is to unfit him to be a slave”
Frederick Douglas

As always thanks for reading and trusting me with your healthcare
Michael Bilof


Contact Information

web site address:
phone: (973) 218-1990

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