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The FYI on FAT

olive oilIt's good to know your overall fat content, but research has found that it's the type of fat that really matters. So going on a low-fat diet may not always be the wisest choice, especially if it involves replacing foods with unsaturated fats for foods high in added sugars and sodium. It's all about knowing what fats to keep in and which ones to kick out.

Three Fat Tips

1. Watch Out for Trans Fats

Trans fats are primarily found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and foods containing these oils. Foods can be labeled with 0 g of trans fats if they contain 0.5 g or less per serving of these fats. Always check the ingredients list to confirm. Trans fats increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Source: "FDA moves to restrict artificial trans fats in processed foods." American Heart Association. November 13, 2013.

Recommendation:
Try to avoid trans fats altogether. Soon this will become a lot easier, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidance to significantly reduce the use of partially hydrogenated oils in the food supply.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Health.gov. “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans 8th ed., Chapter 1: A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Patterns.” December 2015.

2. Eat Less Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are mainly found in animal foods, including red meat and poultry, but a few plant foods are also high in saturated fats, such as coconut oil and palm oil.

These types of fats raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Source: "American Heart Association." 2017.

Recommendation:
Limit saturated fat to fewer than 10% of daily calories.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Health.gov. “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans 8th ed., Chapter 1: A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Patterns.” December 2015.

3. Eat More Unsaturated Fats

The greatest amounts of monounsaturated fats are found in olive, canola, peanut, sunflower, and safflower oils. They're also in avocados, peanut butter, and most nuts.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Health.gov. “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans 8th ed., Chapter 1: A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Patterns.” December 2015.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in

  • Oils: Corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils.
  • Seeds: Sesame, pumpkin, and flaxseeds.
  • Seafood (omega-3s): Salmon, trout, herring, tuna, and mackerel.

Recommendation:
Try to replace saturated fats with unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats when possible.

Source: “Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats.” United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): ChooseMyPlate.gov. October 16, 2016.

Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.

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