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Heart-healthy fats

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Briana Traut, Registered Dietitian

CentraCare Weight Management

February is National Heart Health Month. Did you know one of the leading causes of death in the United States is cardiovascular disease? Take the initiative to protect yourself and your loved ones from heart disease and stroke by making heart-healthy fat choices. Fat has an important role in the body and should be included in your daily diet. Fat is necessary for energy, nutrient absorption, temperature regulation, insulation and protection of organs.

Choose these fats

Monounsaturated fat

  • Olive oil, avocado, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and peanut butter

Polyunsaturated fat

  • Can lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting and are associated with moderating blood pressure
  • Found mostly in plant-based foods and oils
  • Omega 6’s (pro-inflammatory)
  1. Sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil and vegetable oil
  • Omega 3’s (anti-inflammatory)
  1. Flaxseed oil, canola oil and walnut oil

Limit these fats

Saturated fat

  • American Heart Association recommends less than seven percent of your total daily calories from saturated fat
  • Raises total blood cholesterol levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or trans fat are solid at room temperature
  1. Found in animal sources — beef fat, pork fat, shortening, stick margarine, butter and coconut oil

Trans fat

  • American Heart Association recommends less than one percent of your total daily calories from trans fat
  • Most trans fats are made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats so they have a longer shelf life
  • Trans fats increase total cholesterol, increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Even foods labeled with “0” grams trans fat may contain small amounts (less than one-half a gram per serving) of trans fat
  1. Check a food’s ingredient list to determine if it contains partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat) even if the label reads “0g trans fat”
  • The FDA sent a compliance date of June 2018 for companies to reformulate products without trans fat
  1. Trans fat will not be gone completely from foods because it does occur naturally in small amounts in some meat and dairy products