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Choosing Heart Healthy Fats

January 17, 2012

Some nutritionists and doctors may tell you that a low-fat diet is the key to controlling cholesterol and preventing diseases. However, research has proven that reducing consumption of fat is not the best way to achieve optimal health. Instead, what really matters is the type of fat you eat.

Fats that are found in food can be divided into four main categories, namely, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats. They can promote heart health, control cholesterol level, and improve overall health.

Some of the kinds of food that contain monounsaturated fats are:

  • Types of heart healthier foods for a healthy lifeOlive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and cashew nuts
  • Peanut butter

Polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as:

  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Soymilk
  • Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, and sardines

Saturated fats and trans fats are regarded as bad fats, because they can increase your cholesterol level and make you more susceptible to many different kinds of disease, including heart disease. These fats can be easily distinguished from good fats. They are usually in a solid state at room temperature, while good fats tend to be liquid.

Examples of saturated fats include:

  • Beef, pork, and lamb with high fat content
  • Chicken with skin
  • Whole-fat dairy products such as milk and cream
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Ice cream
  • Lard
  • Palm and coconut oil

Some of the foods that contain trans fats are:

  • Commercially-baked cookies, pastries, muffins, cakes, doughnuts, and pizza dough
  • Fried foods such as fried chicken, chicken nuggets, French fries, and breaded fish
  • Packaged snack foods such as chips, microwave popcorn, and crackers
  • Candy bars
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening