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Facts on Fats

Have you ever found yourself stuck in the middle of the grocery store aisle trying to decide which oil to cook with or which fat is the worst for you? With the marketing industry trying to sell products to consumers, it is understandable to scratch your head after a long day of research on fats and oils.

Why is it important to choose healthy fats? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. This accounts for 1 in every 3 deaths.

So how does heart disease start? It takes several years of fatty deposits (plaque) and cholesterol to build up in the arteries. Damage to arteries can be from high cholesterol and high fat diet, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and physical inactivity. These are modifiable risk factors that you can change to live a heart healthy life.

How does fat come into play? Depending on the fats you choose, it can either increase plaque build-up or it can help decrease it. It’s your choice.

Choose more of these

  • Omega-3 Fats

  • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, albacore tuna, and sardines)

  • Walnuts

  • Canola Oil (Excellent to cook with)

  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil

  • Monounsaturated fats

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Good for dressing and dips)

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Avocados

  • Natural-style Peanut butter

  • Nut and seed oils such as peanut oil

  • Polyunsaturated fats

  • Corn Oil

  • Soybean oil

  • Grape seed oil

  • Cotton seed oi

Choose less of these:

  • Trans Fat (anything made with partially hydrogenated oils)

  • Margarine (hard stick margarine/some tub margarines)

  • Vegetable shortening

  • Deep fried foods

  • Cracker, Cookies, pastries, some peanut butter

  • Saturated fats

  • Beef, pork, lamb, duck

  • Butter

  • Skin on chicken and turkey

  • Whole milk/dairy products

  • Palm Oil and Coconut oil

  • Fully Hydrogenated fat

Don’t be misled by the Nutrition Fact Label or what is promoted on the package. If the food product says something along the lines of “Zero grams of Trans Fat!” and if you look at the Nutrition Fact Label, and it states “zero grams of trans fat,” that isn’t the whole truth. You’re going to have to look in the ingredient list, and if you find anything that says “partially hydrogenated oil,” then there is trans fat in it. How this is possible you may ask. Well, the Food and Drug Administration allows companies to put“Zero Grams of Trans fat” if that product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. However, if you eat four servings of something that has 0.4 grams of trans fat per serving, you just ate 1.6 grams of trans fat! This increases your chances of having heart disease and you didn’t even know it.

It doesn’t mean you should eat 10 avocados because it is good for you. Fat and oil is still high in calories, so it must be limited or else you’ll gain some inches.

Dietary Guidelines to Fat and Cholesterol Intake


  • Choose alternative fats – replace trans and saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

  • Choose vegetable oils (except for palm kernel and coconut oil) and soft margarines (liquid, tub or spray) more often because they contain fewer amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol compared to solid shortening, hard margarines, and animal fats like butter.

  • Consider fish and choose lean meats such as poultry (without the skin and not fried), lean beef and pork (trim and discard visible fat).

By: Katie Hoang, Dietetic Intern

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