Plant Fats vs. Animal Fats: Which Is Healthier?

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Plant Fats vs. Animal Fats: Which Is Healthier?

Published Dec 15, 2021 

Aging results in your metabolism getting slower. For this reason, you need to eat right and remain active so you will not gain excess weight.

Aside from eating healthily and exercising, having a secure calorie tracker account online may be a good tool as you start your weight loss journey.

Some people choose to undergo cosmetic surgery such as Abdominoplasty to help align their natural appearance with their desired appearance and improve their confidence. You may also want to use a fat intake calculator to estimate the dietary fat you must consume daily.

You are probably tempted to cut out fat from your diet. However, research scientist Vasanti Malik of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that the human body needs regular fat intake.

Malik shared that fat protects organs, helps give energy, supports cell growth, and keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control. It also assists the body in absorbing essential nutrients.

Thus, if you eliminate fat from your diet, you can deprive yourself of what your body needs most.

What Are Fats and Why Are They Important?

Fats or “fatty acids” are a type of lipid composed of a three-molecule structure called “triglyceride.”

You need to get sufficient amounts of fat to stay healthy. Fat helps absorb vitamins and provides an efficient way to store energy for a long time.

Most of the fat humans need is produced by the body. However, there are some fats that the human body cannot make. They are known as “essential fatty acids,” which people can obtain from food.

Essential fatty acids include the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Omega-6 fatty acids

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are indispensable components of cell membranes. They are precursors to numerous other substances in the body, including components involved in inflammatory responses.

Three Types of Fats

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats can ease inflammation, improve blood cholesterol levels, and stabilize heart rhythms. Unsaturated fats are primarily found in plants, such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are predominantly found in animal foods. However, some plant-based foods are also high in saturated fats, including coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and palm oil.

In the U.S., the largest source of saturated fat in one’s diet are the following:

  • Cheese and pizza

  • Butter and dairy desserts

  • Whole and reduced-fat milk

  • Meat products

  • A variety of fast food dishes

  • Cookies and other grain-based desserts

Trans Fats

Trans fats are primarily found in commercial baked goods, margarine, and processed and fried foods. These fats are not good for the blood vessels, heart, and the rest of the body because they create inflammation and contribute to insulin resistance.

Trans fats can also raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.

Are Animal Fats Bad for the Heart?

A 2019 research article published in the International Journal of Cardiology suggested that the type of saturated fats people consume may affect their risk of having a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

You will have decreased chances of a heart attack if your diet contains a small amount of palmitic and stearic acid (saturated fats consisting of 16 or more atoms usually found in meats) and you consume plant-based proteins.

Meanwhile, if you eat more saturated fats with 14 or fewer carbon atoms, usually found in dairy products, you will also have a lower risk of having a heart attack.

The results suggested that the association between saturated fatty acids and heart attack depends on the carbon chain length of the saturated fatty acids.

Are Plant Fats Healthier Than Animal Fats?

Saturated fatty acids, primarily found in animal foods, are more closely linked to factors for heart disease than unsaturated fatty acids.

Thus, many people believe that a plant-based diet is healthier because it is low in fat. However, it is not necessarily low-fat because a plant-based diet still includes fats from foods, such as nuts and seeds.

Although these foods contain fats, they are not associated with an increased risk for heart disease.

A study showed that a higher intake of plant-based fats was linked to a 16% lower risk of dying from any cause. On the contrary, higher consumption of animal-based fats was associated with a 21% higher risk of dying from any reason.

However, research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that diets deficient in fat may worsen the overall risk for heart disease.

For these reasons, the ideal approach to healthy consumption of fat is to reduce saturated fat intake and replace a few of them with unsaturated fats.

The key here is balance. A study suggested that a reduction in saturated fat intake may produce a small but potentially significant decrease in the risk for heart disease.


Both plant fats and animal fats are healthy. However, you must not go to extremes and cut them off your diet. Nor should you consume fat excessively. You should be wise about the type and amount of fat you eat.

You may opt to reduce your saturated fat intake and eat food rich in unsaturated fat instead. Start by limiting processed foods and reaching for whole fruits and vegetables whenever you feel hungry.

Lastly, consult your nutritionist or dietician to help you sort through misinformation and learn primary nutrition education.   

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