Fats and Oils

While Fats and Oils are not a ‘food group,’ the Food Guide provides guidance on them because of their impact on health. The type and amount of fat in our diet is important to consider. While some fats are ‘essential’ to our diet, too much of any fat is not healthy.

Fat is naturally present in many foods. Typically, animal products are sources of mainly saturated fats, while plant foods and oils typically supply most of the unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) in our diet.

Diets that are high in saturated fat (mainly from animal products) and trans fat (mainly found in commercially prepared foods like baked goods and fried foods), have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s why health professionals suggest we consume less of saturated fats and avoid trans fat.

A lot of the fat in our diet is not seen – it’s already in the foods we have purchased. However, added fats like oils used in stir-fries, dressings on our salads and spreads on bread, can contribute even more fat to our diets. The Food Guide suggests limiting these types of visible fats and using mostly unsaturated varieties.

Healthy Fats

Type of Fat

Major Food Sources

Monounsaturated Fat / Monounsaturates Olive, canola and peanut oils, avocados, non-hydrogenated margarines, nuts and seeds
Polyunsaturated Fat / Polyunsaturates
  • Omega-6 Fat
  • Omega 3 Fat
Safflower, sesame, sunflower and corn oils, non-hydrogenated margarines, nuts and seeds
Fattier fish, canola and soybean oils, flax seed, omega-3 eggs, walnuts, pecans and pine nuts

Unhealthy Fats

Type of Fat Major Food Sources
Saturated Fat / Saturates



Trans Fats

In many prepared foods made with hydrogenated oils, as well as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, lard, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil and cocoa butter

In all foods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and many snack foods, fast foods and ready-prepared foods