Know Your Fats


It is a top priority of the American Heart Association to encourage replacing saturated and trans fats with healthier sources higher in unsaturated fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
 

Bad Fats

The following types of fats should be limited in your daily diet.

Trans Fat
  • Found in baked goods like pastries, biscuits, muffins, cookies, cakes, pie crusts, doughnuts and deep-fried foods including fries, onion rings, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and breaded fish.
  • Known to raise LDL "bad" cholesterol and may lower HDL "good" cholesterol. Trans fats also increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Intake of trans fats should be limited to less than 1% of your total daily calories. That means should be ingesting less than 2 grams of trans fat each day.
Saturated Fat
  • Mainly from animal-based sources: beef, pork, lamb, poultry, lard, cream, butter, cheese, bacon fat, and shortening. Saturated fats can also be found in coconut and palm kernel oils along with some baked goods and fried foods.
  • Raises LDL "bad" cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease. Foods high in saturated fats may also be high in cholesterol.
  • Should be limited to less than 7% of your total daily calories or less than 15 grams from saturated fat each day.

Better Fats


The following types of fats can be increased in moderation to replace bad fats in your diet.

Polyunsaturated Fat
  • Commonly found in oils high in omega-6 (soybean, corn, and sunflower oils), walnuts, sunflower seeds, and cold-water fish high in omega-3s (salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines, and herring)
  • Reduces LDL "bad" cholesterol and lowers triglycerides, a type of fat in the bloodstream. Polyunsaturated fats may also lower the risk of heart disease.
  • All fats combined should make up 25% to 35% of your total daily calories. This means the average 2,000 calorie diet should be made up of 56-78 grams of fats each day. At least 40-60 grams should be unsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated Fat
  • Seen in vegetable oils (olive, canola, sesame, and peanut), avocados, many nuts and seeds like almonds, peanuts and peanut butter, fat free salad dressings, and soft margarine made from "liquid oils."
  • Reduces LDL "bad" cholesterol and may lower the risk of heart disease.
  • All fats combined should make up 25% to 35% of your total daily calories. This means the average 2,000 calorie diet should be made up of 56-78 grams of fats each day. At least 40-60 grams should be unsaturated fats.
Now that you know saturated and trans fats are not the best, what is your best defense?
Eat less of the foods they are in. Go easy on baked goods like doughnuts and pastries and fried foods like French Fries. Eat less fatty meat, chicken with skin, butter, and full-fat dairy products. You don't have to avoid these foods altogether, but make them treats you enjoy only once in a while. Replace these fats with the healthier unsaturated fats or choose low-fat or fat-free options!