Dr. Tim Says....

Fats and Their Effects on Cholesterol

Last Friday I wrote on how even a single meal that is high in saturated fat can contribute to adverse changes in the arteries of the kind that lead to heart disease. I had the question, however, from a reader to outline all the different types of fats and their effects on cholesterol. Here's a handy table to help guide you.

Type of Fat Foods About Actions Ideas and Tips
Sat- urated fats Red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb, poultry.

Dairy products such as butter, whole milk, cheese and ice cream.

Coconut milk and coconut oil are high in saturated fats.
Solid at room temperature. Raises LDL (bad) cholesterol. Trim all visible fat from meats before cooking. Good beef choices are tenderloin, top round and flank steak. Choose pork tenderloin or center cut pork chops. Lean lamb shoulder is a good choice.

Remove the skin from chicken before eating.

Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products. Good choices are skim milk, 1% milk. Non-fat yogurt is especially good for you.

Eat butter in recipes that use it as an enhancement for flavor. Look for only non-hydro- genated spreads such as Promise Buttery Spread or Take Control Light Spread.
Trans- fats Trans-fats are mostly found in processed foods. Look at the ingredient label for the words "partially- hydro- genated"

Hard margarines, deep fried foods and fast foods are also high in trans- fats

Items such as snack foods including cookies, cakes, crackers and potato chips are often high in trans-fats.
Hydrogenation is an industrial process that turns a liquid oil to a solid. The fat remains solid or semi-soft at room temp- erature.

The problem is that during the hydro- genation process trans-fats are created.
Trans-fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. Try to eliminate this fat from your diet as it has an even more negative impact on cholesterol profiles than saturated fat.

Carefully read the nutrition label and do not purchase any products that use partially hydro- genated oils.

Labels on products that say "trans-fat free" or that have 0 g of trans fat listed in the Nutrition Facts section. Be careful because even though a food may say "trans-fat free" it can still have a lot of fat and often much of that is saturated fat.
Mono- unsat- urated fats

(Unsat- urated fat)
Found in canola oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil and (my favorite) avocadoes.

Also found in many nuts like raw cashews, almonds and peanuts.
Oils are liquid at room temperature. Healthy because mono- unsaturated fats lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Replace cooking oils with grapeseed oil and olive oil.

Use olive oil for salad dressings (or grapeseed or canola oil where the taste of olive oil might interfere).

Snacking on 1/4 cup of nuts with a serving of fruit has been shown to be satisfying without weight gain.
Poly- unsat- urated fats

(Unsat- urated fat)
Found in safflower oil, corn oil and soybean oils.

Many spreads are made with these oils now.

Found in soybeans and peanuts.
Oils are liquid at room temperature. Raises HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol Peanut butter has a lot of fat but it is good fat. A good lunch choice is a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat.

Chopped or slivered nuts and seeds make the perfect coating for fish and chicken.
Omega- 6 fats
(Poly- unsat- urated fat)
Found in many vegetable oils including sunflower oil, sesame oil and canola oil.

Wheat germ contains Omega-6 fatty acids.

Nuts and seeds including sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds.
Oils are liquid at room temperature. Raises HDL (good) cholesterol. A serving of any sliced fruit like apples or pears with a teaspoon of almond butter is a great snack.

Sprinkle wheat germ on your cereal or yogurt.
Omega-3 fats
(Poly- unsat- urated fat)
Found in seafood like tuna, halibut, mackerel, salmon (especially wild caught salmon), herring, sea bass, rockfish and sardines.

Good vegetable sources include canola oil, tofu, soybean oil, flax seeds and flax seed oil.

Walnuts and walnut oil as well pumpkin seeds are also good sources.
Oils are liquid at room temperature. Raises HDL (good) cholesterol and has a protective role against atherosclerosis and heart disease. Make salad dressings using soybean, walnut or canola oil.

Pumpkin seeds are great on salads or in yogurt.

Eat fatty fish like tuna, salmon, etc. at least twice a week.

August 14, 2006

Last updated: 08/14/06