Monounsaturated Fats – “The Great, But Not The Best” Type



Monounsaturated fats have been proven to lower total cholesterol levels especially LDL cholesterols (the bad ones) and decrease cardiovascular heart disease risk relative to saturated fats.

Why are they good?

Monounsaturated fats are good because their structure is a double carbon bond with cis-hydrogen atoms meaning that the hydrogens are on the same side. Furthermore, unlike saturated fats, they do not have extra hydrogen atoms in them. Too many hydrogen atoms can cause heavy oxidation which is very unhealthy, as in the case of trans-fats.


Health meter:

8/10 – Stick to 20-30% of your diet for unsaturated fats. Although polyunsaturated fats are better, monounsaturated fats, aren’t unhealthy unless consumed in large amounts (40%+ of your diet). These are the fats you should be snacking on for happiness and nutrition.



Saturated Fats – The “Meh” Type

These types of fats aren’t dangerously bad for you, but too much and you might just croak.

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 5.52.14 PM

As observed from the table above, the coronary heart disease mortality rate increases slightly relative to all other outcomes of death through consumption of Saturated Fats,

The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine’s recommendation for adults is that they should get 45–65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20–35% from fat, and 10–35% from protein.

We know that Trans Fats are a no-go from the last article.

Recent publications cited in the first reference have proven that recommendations of Saturated fats should be less than 10% of the daily diet, although according to the Institute of Medicine, there is no recommended intake of Saturated Fats where there isn’t an adverse effect.

However, since the relative risk ratio seems minor even for those consuming above 10%, then that is a safe percentage especially when paired with exercise (the study follows people consuming from 3.9% to 22.7%). Although those who want to lower LDL cholesterol levels should consume 5-6%.

Therefore, the only fats left from that 20-35% are those of Unsaturated (Poly and Mono).

Overall Health Rating:

6/10  – What doesn’t kill you doesn’t really affect you that much unless you have high LDL cholesterol and are a couch potato.


Trans Fats – The Dirty Sin of Fats

Did you know: Some brands of biscuits have trans fat. In fact, even if they write 0 grams of trans fats, they are allowed to round down from 0.49 grams. (Federal Regulation 21 CFR 101.9(c)(2)(ii))

You almost never see Trans fats anywhere nowadays. Every chip on your local Supermarket aisle always advertises the label, “No Trans Fats.” Therefore, you’ve never concerned yourself with these types of fats.

Yet you’ve wondered at some point, are Trans fats worse?

Looking at one study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that followed 7038 participants (mean age = 67 years old) with high-risk for cardiovascular diseases (diseases related to the blood vessels or the heart) over the course of 6 years, they found that significantly more participants developed heart-disease when they were consuming trans fats and saturated fats relative to the group consuming poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats.

This study also mentions that those consuming trans fats and saturated fats were physically less active, consumed less fibers and carbohydrates, and had a greater prevalence of diabetes. Therefore I decided to also check out other studies.

One study from Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism that summarized cohort studies taken from multiple review articles showed that middle-to-old aged people:Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 6.59.39 PM

Basically, let’s ignore all the data with Trans-Fatty Acids except for the one on the lower left corner of the picture above next to “TFA (2% TE)” because of low p-values (scary-uncertain statistical evidence if lower than 0.05). The Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) death risk is equivalent to 1.21, higher than any other fatty-acid CHD death risk. This poses numerous red flags for consuming Trans-Fatty Acids for even 2% of the daily total energy intake. Just to note, if the trans-fat acid was drawn up to 5% in comparison with the rest of the data, the death risk from CHD would likely be drastically higher.


Mani’s healthy rating:

0.4/10 – Let’s say you’re stuck on a desert island like Joe over here:


Joe only has a pocket supply of store-bought cream-filled flaky buttermilk biscuits. He’s hungry because he hasn’t eaten in 3 days. This is probably the only time he should actually eat those biscuits…



Sugar – The Sweet Carbohydrate

How do we know how much added sugar to consume and stay healthy?

Added Sugars (those consisting of additive sugars, in the form of syrups, sugars, sweeteners, molasses, cane juice, honey, fruit juice concentrate, any ingredient ending with “ose” such as fructose, glucose, and sucrose, and many forms of additive sugars).

The recommended total energy intake from ADDED sugar varies depending on the organization according to a scientific article published in Nutrients:

table for sugar
Table 1: Recommendation for Sugar Intake %

Wow. That’s really freaking confusing.

These organizations state that the recommended consumption should be between the ranges of <5% – <25%. There’s over 20% margin of error for these discrepancies.

So, what is the right amount?

Here’s where the discrepancy comes from:

It depends on your body’s needs.

The recommended added sugar intake to consume is based on activity levels, age, and so many other categories.

Are you bed-ridden after a day of sitting at a desk job?

Are you a 70-year old marathon runner constantly eating Snickers bars?

You can calculate your energy needs here:

Total Energy Intake Calculator

This tool isn’t perfect because it doesn’t recognize breathing, fidgeting, walking from your bed to your fridge, or doing a single push-up. However, it should give a general overview to how much you should consume.

I can guarantee that an active Joe can consume more sugar than a lazy Joe, unless active Joe is a diabetic.

Comparing both of them, active Joe can consume <15% sugar while lazy Joe can only consume <5% sugar to stay healthy.

Amount/Level of Sugar Safe For Consumption

Are fruit sugars the same as added sugars?

Fruit sugars take on the form of “fructose” which are still harmful for you in congestion with large increments. However, fruits (if not dry) contain less sugar by volume than many alternative snacks such as cake. Rather, they hold a heavy volume of water, many essential vitamins, antioxidants, and fibers that aid with digestion. Granted, you shouldn’t mix cake and 3 oranges, 2 apples, and 60 strawberries, but making fruit the most of your total sugar intake can minimize risks with insulin spikes.

Therefore, if you are looking at WHO’s conditional recommendation for total sugar intake (5%), then you shouldn’t include fruit sugars as added sugars. However, if you are an active Joe looking at 15% of your total sugar intake and make 10% of it based on fruit sugars, and 5% of it based on other sugars, then you would still be eating healthy.


Table 1 –

Fructose – Safe Amounts:

Fruit Sugar (Fructose) vs Glucose Spikes:

What the heck is healthy anymore?

Nowadays, nobody has a proper definition of health because the word gets thrown around like candy. Many companies misuse the label “healthy” in their food products to maximize profits.

You’ve seen the label being thrown around in these products all the time:

  • Organic foods with high sugar (Cliff Bars)
  • Protein shakes or fruit drinks with high sugar (Odwalla, Jamba Juice)
  • High cholesterol meats (American Heart Association)
  • Sugar-free additives with harmful substitutes (Kroger Yogurt, Diet Coke)
  • Fat-free alternatives (Milk, Margarine, Peanut Butter)

After going through numerous trendy/popularized diets, I’ve learned to associate the word “healthy” with a “balanced diet”

Balance means that it should be fine for your body to eat a certain amount of sugar or unhealthy foods (I have my occasional cheat days with delicious fried chicken) as long as it’s in moderation.

What is moderation?

To dwell further, we need to look at each of the key macronutrients and their recommended intake levels.