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Facts About Dietary Fat

Bottle of olive oil.
Olive oil is a good source of unsaturated fat.
Eating less saturated and trans fat is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Start by finding out which fats are better to use. Then always try to use as little "bad" fat as you can.

Why eat less fat?

  • Cutting down on the fat you eat can lower your blood cholesterol levels. This may help prevent clogged arteries from plaque buildup.

  • A low-fat diet can help you lose excess weight. Doing so can lower your blood pressure and reduce your chances of getting diabetes.

  • A low-fat diet reduces your risk for stroke and for some cancers.

Unsaturated fat is most healthy

  • Unsaturated fat is the best fat to add to foods when needed.

  • Unsaturated fats come from plants. They include olive, canola, peanut, corn, avocado, safflower, and sunflower oils.

  • Liquid (squeezable) margarine is also mostly unsaturated fat.

  • In moderate amounts, unsaturated fat can even be good for your heart.

Saturated fat is less healthy

  • Try not to eat saturated fat. It raises your blood cholesterol levels.

  • Most saturated fat comes from animals. Foods such as butter, lard, cheese, cream, whole milk, and fatty cuts of meat are high in saturated fat.

  • Some oils, such as palm and coconut oils, are also saturated fats.

Trans fat is least healthy

  • Also try not to eat trans fat whenever possible. Even if it's not listed on the food label, look for it in the ingredients in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

  • This is found in snack foods, shortening, French fries, and stick margarines.

Add flavor without fat

  • Sprinkle herbs on fish, chicken, and meat, and in soups.

  • Try herbs, lemon juice, or flavored vinegar on vegetables.

  • Add chopped onions, garlic, and peppers to flavor beans and rice.

  • Try the following ways to cook lean meats, fish, or poultry: bake, broil, roast, stew, or stir-fry. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Horowitz, Diane, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wilkins, Joanna, RD, CD
Last Review Date: 6/1/2017
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