11/04/2016 5:34 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Good Fats Versus Bad Fats: Everything You Need To Know

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Chopping board, oil bottles and different types of cooking fat

"Don't eat fat, fat is bad." "Eat lots of fat, fat is good." "Only eat some fats, but stay away from bad fats."

Either heavily promoted or criticised, fat has the reputation of being the good guy one month and the devil the next. And, quite frankly, we're just as confused as you are.

To help settle the confusion, cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra and Christine Cronau, a speaker, best-selling author and nutritionist, share their insights.

"Fat is full of nutrients and we need those nutrients for good organ function, including our heart," Cronau told The Huffington Post Australia.

According to Cronau, the body needs fats for adequate hormone production.

"We need fat and cholesterol to produce adequate serotonin, which is our feel-good hormone. We also need fat and cholesterol for healthy cell function, and if our cells don’t function well, we cannot produce adequate energy or stay well," Cronau said.

"In addition, the cell membrane is made mostly of fats. And if we don't eat enough natural, quality fat, it is impossible to keep the cells hydrated. This then causes premature ageing and wrinkles."

Healthy fats also help us to feel full and provide a number of essential nutrients, including vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.

"Omega-3 fat consumption is associated with the best health outcomes," Malhotra told HuffPost Australia. "Over-consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory, are potentially harmful, being linked to heart disease, cancer and dementia.

"Trans fats should be avoided altogether."

With so much confusing information around what is a good or bad fat, how do we differentiate between the two?

"We have heard the term 'good and bad fats' often, however, in most cases, the description is the wrong way around," Cronau said.

"Good fats are the naturally occurring fats -- butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil."

To the 'good' fats list, Malhotra also adds oily fish, tree nuts and full fat dairy, especially yoghurt.

"Bad fats are the modern, industrially processed fats -- canola oil, rice bran oil, vegetable oil, margarine, spreads and shortening," Cronau said.

"Industrially processed vegetable oils are particularly bad in fast food and packaged food," Malhotra said.

To ensure we're eating good fats and not bad fats, Cronau suggests avoiding packaged foods, manufactured oils and spreads.

"Eat real food," Cronau said. "If we fill our shopping trolley with actual foods, such as grass-fed meat, free-range eggs, vegetables, butter, cheese, plain yoghurt, cream, coconut oil and cold-pressed olive oil, we can’t really go wrong. We will be eating natural fats. Healthy, good fats."

However good these fats may be, is it possible to 'overload' on even the healthy fats? According to Cronau and Malhotra, due to its filling nature, it's very difficult to overeat good fats.

"The great thing about fat is that it is self-regulating. When we eat fat, we produce our fullness hormone, cholecystokinin. We absolutely know when we have had enough -- we feel full," Cronau told HuffPost Australia.

"It’s a completely different story with sugar and carbohydrates. In fact, the added sugars trigger hunger. This is why we can literally eat an entire packet of biscuits, then be looking in the fridge to see what else there is to eat.

"With fats, we know when we have had enough and we get to the point where we simply can’t eat any more."

With the popularity of raw cakes and desserts increasing, many people are questioning whether these high fat desserts are actually healthy. According to Cronau, raw desserts get a tick of approval.

"The fat in these desserts is absolutely perfect. Coconut oil is not only a health food, but it is anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. I consider coconut oil to be an absolute super food. Nuts also contain good fats," Cronau said.

"The only thing we do need to be careful of is the dates. Dried dates are extremely high in natural sugar. Depending on how many dates are used, one serve could contain approximately eight grams of natural sugar, which is around two teaspoons of sugar."