05 Feb 2016

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Reducing Fat in Diet Necessary for Healthy Heart

Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in a heart-healthy diet:

Type of fat Recommendation
Saturated fat Less than 7% of your total daily calories, or less than 14 g of saturated fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet
Trans fat Less than 1% of your total daily calories, or less than 2 g of trans fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet
Cholesterol Less than 300 mg a day for healthy adults; less than 200 mg a day for adults with high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol or those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medication

The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.

You can also use low-fat substitutions when possible for a heart-healthy diet. For example, top your baked potato with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine.

You may also want to check the food labels of some cookies, crackers and chips. Many of these snacks — even those labeled “reduced fat” — may be made with oils containing trans fats. One clue that a food has some trans fat in it is the phrase “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list.

When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.

Fats to choose Fats to limit
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Margarine that’s free of trans fats
  • Cholesterol-lowering margarine, such as Benecol, Promise Activ or Smart Balance
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Bacon fat
  • Gravy
  • Cream sauce
  • Nondairy creamers
  • Hydrogenated margarine and shortening
  • Cocoa butter, found in chocolate
  • Coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils
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