How should I choose healthy dietary fats?

Dietary fat has essential nutrients that keep your body running smoothly. Fat also adds flavor and texture to meals and helps you feel satisfied after eating. Some fats have been shown to be heart-healthy, while others may increase cardiac risk factors. The key is learning about and choosing the right types of fats.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all Americans -- not just those with heart conditions -- limit their intake of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. A practical step in this direction is to eat unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats.
Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
Quality is by far the most important factor in choosing a fat. In this context, quality means a fat that has been extracted and stored in a way that doesn't damage it. This means no hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation and no bleaching or other heat or chemical processes that alter the fat.

A quality vegetable oil is one that has been extracted in a way that doesn't negatively affect the oil and is stored in a way that preserves its nutritional integrity. This means the oil is refrigerated if it's polyunsaturated and stored in a dark glass jar or tin, not in a plastic bottle. And these oils should certainly never be kept right next to or above the stove, where they will be repeatedly subject to heat.

If the fat is from an animal, quality fat comes from an animal raised in an environment it was biologically designed to live in. For example, butter from grass-fed cows allowed to pasture and move around freely as opposed to butter from grain-fed cows living in a feedlot.
Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

More About this Book

Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

Eat Naked with Margaret Floyd for a Sexier You Are you fed up with counting calories? Confused by all the diet hype? Want to eat delicious, real food and look and feel great? Leading...

Continue Learning about Fats

Why Too Much Bad Fat Makes You Fatter
Why Too Much Bad Fat Makes You Fatter
In 2013 when the world’s tallest horse, a 20-hand, two-and-three-quarter inches tall (that’s 6′ 11″) Belgian gelding named Big Jake weighed in at 2,60...
Read More
How does limiting unhealthy fat from my diet affect aging?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
Try to  keep your intake of saturated and trans fats (the "aging fats") down, no more than 20 grams ...
More Answers
What should I remember when cooking with fats?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
You should remember two things when you cook with fats. First, prepare foods with unsaturated fats w...
More Answers
Eat Beans to Fight Belly Fat, Heart Disease and Diabetes
Eat Beans to Fight Belly Fat, Heart Disease and Diabetes

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.