Understanding Heart Healthy Fats From Bad Fats

Heart Healthy Fats

Most of the time when the word “fat” comes up in health-related discussions, people consider it a bad nutrient. But like all other nutrients, fats are very important for maintaining good health. There are both good and bad types. Here’s an overview of heart healthy fats.

Good fats are nutrients that perform essential functions. There are several different varieties of good fats, including:

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids — fats that lower the level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and help raise levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in blood. Examples include olives, avocados, olive oil, canola oil, nuts and seeds.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids — fats that lower total blood cholesterol levels. Sources include vegetable oils, soybean oil, sunflower oil.

Why eat fats? Here are some benefits: 

  • They supply energy and provide satiety.
  • They carry vitamins A, D, E and K through the body.
  • They provide a reserve store of energy.
  • They act as a cushion and heat regulator.

Bad fats:

  • Saturated fatty acids — fats that raise the level of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. Sources include meat, poultry skin, whole-milk dairy products, butter, margarine and palm oil.
  • Trans fats — artificially produced partially hydrogenated fat
  • High fat diets are linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and hypertension. It’s very important to incorporate good fats and avoid bad fats to achieve good health.

To learn more about how to improve your heart health, check out these other heart health tips. And for great meal ideas, look through our heart healthy recipes.