Fat: The Heart Healthy Truth

Feb 13, 2015 / Nutrition

Truth be told, our bodies need fat. Fats are essential for brain development and help control inflammation in our bodies. They also help us absorb vitamins and keep us warm. Fat should make up about 20-35 percent of your total calories. There are four types of fats in our food, and some fats are better for you than others:

Saturated fat should be limited to about 10 percent of your fat calories. Studies have shown that too much saturated fat can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. This fat can raise your LDL “bad” cholesterol.  Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature.

Trans fats raise cholesterol levels.  They are formed when liquid oil is changed into a solid fat. Trans fats are listed as “partially hydrogenated” fats on ingredient labels.

Unsaturated fats lower cholesterol levels and improve your heart health.  Try to use unsaturated fats as the main source of fat in your diet.  They are usually liquid at room temperature.

There are two types of unsaturated fats, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids which are a type of polyunsaturated fat that can help decrease triglyceride levels and are beneficial for people with heart disease.


So, How Can You Add Unsaturated Fats to Your Diet?

  • When cooking, choose canola oil or another unsaturated fat, instead of butter. Keep in mind that one teaspoon of oil still contains the same amount of calories as one teaspoon of butter.
  • Choose 6 ounces of fatty fish twice a week.

For more ways to improve your heart health: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Nutrition-Center_UCM_001188_SubHomePage.jsp

Written by Inmay MacNeil, MS, RD, LDN Nutrition Education Specialist

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