Some fats, called unsaturated fats, have health benefits like lowering your risk of heart disease. Other fats called saturated and trans fats, or the “bad fats,” increase your risk of heart disease. By knowing the difference, you can include healthy fats in your diet to add flavor and nutritional benefits without increasing your risk of heart disease. All fats are high in calories so keep an eye on your portion sizes.
What are the Best Choices?
As a guide, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 fats are good for you and reduce your risk of heart disease. Saturated and trans fats raise your risk of heart disease.
When you are cooking or adding fats to your foods, choose from this list:
Oils and Dressings
- Vegetable oils such as olive, canola, corn, cottonseed, flaxseed, grapeseed, safflower, soybean, sunflower
- Salad dressings
- Trans free margarine
- Margarines with plant stanols or plant sterols
- Nuts such as almonds, brazil, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans, pine, pistachios, walnuts
- Seeds such as flax, pumpkin, or sesame
Fats to Avoid
Saturated and trans fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Below is a list of spreads and cooking ingredients that contain a large amount of saturated fat. Remember, saturated fats are also found in full-fat dairy products and meats.
Cooking Oils and Other Fats
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Salt pork
Reduced or Fat-free “Fat” Foods
Many fats such as salad dressings, margarines, and spreads are available in reduced fat, light and fat-free versions. These foods are lower in calories and contain less fat and can be helpful for some people. If you choose to cut back on fat, after reducing the saturated fat in your diet, primarily in meat, chicken skin and high fat dairy products, try using some of the lower-fat products to cut more calories
How Much Saturated Fat Can I Eat?
People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease. Eating a diet low in saturated fat can reduce your risk. Choosing lean meats, nonfat dairy and foods from the best choice list, you’ll be able to enjoy the flavor of fat in your food while keeping the “bad fats” out of your diet.
But how much is ok? Try to stick to less than 7% of your calories as saturated fat. If you know how many calories you eat, you can use the information on labels to help you stick to your total amount of saturated fat for the day.
- 1200 calories – 9 grams of saturated fat
- 1500 calories – 11 grams of saturated fat
- 1800 calories – 14 grams of saturated fat
- 2000 calories – 15 grams of saturated fat
Limit Trans fats
- Trans fats, like saturated fats, can raise blood cholesterol levels. Your goal should be to eat as little trans fat as possible. Trans fats are made in a process that changes liquid vegetable oils into solid fats.
- Trans fats are found in shortening, margarine, many packaged processed foods such as cakes, candies, cookies, snack foods such as crackers, fried foods such as french fries
- Read the food labels and choose foods that have 0 grams of trans fat
- In the ingredient list, look for partially hydrogenated oil. Food can have up to 0.49 grams of trans fat and still list 0 grams on the label.
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