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ABC’s of Dietary Fats

Fats occur naturally in food and play an important role in health.  In our body, fats and oils are used to store energy, insulate body tissues, and transport vitamins (A, E, D, and K).   In cooking, fats and oils help enhance flavor.Choose foods, fats, and oils that promote health.


Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are known to raise cholesterol and increase risk for diseases such as cancer. 
Trans fatty acids:  Listed as partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredients list. Trans fats are added to most processed foods, to increase the product’s shelf life. Fried foods such as donuts, French fries and fried fish ALL have trans fats.


Monounsaturated fats:  Can help decrease high cholesterol when replacing saturated fats.
Omega 3: Omega 3 fats help reduce inflammation, keep arteries pliable and promote physical and mental health. Our body does not make Omega 3 fats and we can only get them from food.

Tips to add healthy fats as part of your lifestyle:

Cooking:  Use olive and canola oil
Meats:  Have more, fish, poultry and buffalo.
Spreads:  Use one without partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat free)
Meal Planning:

  • Consider vegetables the “main course” and meat the “side dish”.
  • Have one or two vegetarian (cheese and meat free) based dinners per week.
  • Baked, broiled not fried foods
  • Read the ingredients list, and avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oil

Type of fat


Health Effects

B A D    F A T S


Whole milk, butter, cheese, beef, hamburger, pork, coconut oil

Raises LDL (lousy cholesterol), connected to some cancers

Trans fats / hydrogenated fats

Margarines, fast food, pre-packaged foods, baked good and fried foods.

Raises LDL, Lowers HDL (healthy cholesterol).

G O O D    F A T S


Olives, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, nuts, avocados, peanuts

When reducing saturated fats and substituting monounsaturated fats can lower LDL cholesterol

Omega 3

Salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseed, flax seed oil, tofu, soy milk, dark leafy green vegetables

Raises HDL cholesterol, and lowers triglycerides