Saturated fat; Diet - fat; Polyunsaturated fat; Monounsaturated fat; Lipids
These are the biggest dietary cause of high LDL levels ("bad cholesterol"). When looking at a food label, pay very close attention to the percentage of saturated fat and avoid or limit any foods that are high. Saturated fat should be limited to 10% of calories. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream, and fatty meats. They are also found in some vegetable oils -- coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils. (Note: Most other vegetable oils contain unsaturated fat and are healthy.)
Fats that help to lower blood cholesterol if used in place of saturated fats. However, unsaturated fats have a lot of calories, so you still need to limit them. Most (but not all) liquid vegetable oils are unsaturated. (The exceptions include coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils.) There are two types of unsaturated fats:
TRANS FATTY ACIDS
These fats form when vegetable oil hardens (a process called hydrogenation) and can raise LDL levels. They can also lower HDL levels ("good cholesterol"). Trans fatty acids are found in fried foods, commercial baked goods (donuts, cookies, crackers), processed foods, and margarines.
HYDROGENATED AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED FATS
This refers to oils that have become hardened (such as hard butter and margarine). Partially hydrogenated means the oils are only partly hardened. Foods made with hydrogenated oils should be avoided because they contain high levels of trans fatty acids, which are linked to heart disease. (Look at the ingredients in the food label.)
American Heart Association Nutrition Committee; Lichtenstein AH, Appel LJ, Brands M, Carnethon M, Daniels S, et al. Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Circulation. 2006;114:82-96.
Mosca L, Banka CL, Benjamin EJ, Berra K, Bushnell C, Dolor RJ, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in women: 2007 update. Circulation. 2007;115:1481-1501.
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