We do need fat for health, but we do not necessarily need animal fat. Butter, above, has saturated fat. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Fat is a hot topic these days, and the science on it has definitely evolved in the past 10 or so years. Here are a few highlights to consider:

● Total fat (the percentage of fat in your diet) does not seem to be an issue when it comes to health; it is the type of fat that you eat that has the impact on your health.

● Unsaturated fats, especially omega 3 (fish) and monounsaturated fat (olive oil/canola), have a protective effect on your health.

● Trans fats (mostly in processed foods) should be avoided completely.

● Saturated fat (coconut oil/butter/cream) may not be as bad for us as we once thought, and we are learning more about the different types of saturated fat and their effects. But they do not appear to be protective like unsaturated fats are, so it is best to continue to focus on those.

● Regarding egg yolks, the yolk of an egg contains all of its fat (much of it saturated) and cholesterol, but it also contains most of its nutrients — minerals, vitamins, etc. One whole egg a day is fine for a heart-healthy diet and offers a lot when it comes to nutrition and satisfaction.

● We do need fat for health, but we do not necessarily need animal fat. Essential fatty acids come from plant sources. Interestingly though, lard has less saturated fat than butter, so it is no worse than butter but somehow has a worse reputation. All fats have a variety of fatty acid types.

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