What are the types of fat that I should know about?

There are several different types of fat that you should know about that are found in foods. It is important to know how much of each of these fats you should have in your diet. Eating too much of some types of fats may increase your LDL, the type of blood cholesterol that can raise your risk for heart disease. Eating the right amount of other types of fat can help keep your cholesterol at the right level. The following are types of fats and the amounts of each that you should have in your diet:
  • Monounsaturated fats are found in olives, seeds, peanuts and other nuts. These fats do not raise your cholesterol if you eat them in moderation (not too much). Include some foods each day that contain monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats should make up 10 to 20 percent of the total number of calories eaten in one day.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are found in oils, such as canola, sunflower, sesame, safflower and other plant oils. Polyunsaturated fats should make up about 10 percent of your calorie intake.
  • Omega-3 fats are found in certain types of high-fat fish, such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna. These fats help protect against heart disease. Eat at least two servings a week of these foods. If you cannot eat fish, talk to your healthcare provider about using a fish oil supplement (pill).
  • Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, and includes butter, lard, coconut or palm oil, shortening and some types of margarine. Hydrogenated and trans-fats are types of fats that are similar to saturated fats. Eating foods that have these type of fats can increase blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent of daily calories.
  • Dietary cholesterol is found in animal foods, including dairy products, meat, fish and poultry. Egg yolks and organ meats (such as liver) are also high in cholesterol. High amounts of dietary cholesterol may increase blood cholesterol in some people. Eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.

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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.