If you are trying to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, or your doctor has said that you need to lower your cholesterol, you are probably trying to keep a close eye on your diet.
This does not mean that you must avoid all your favorite foods. What it might take is substituting different ingredients in a recipe or stir-frying a food rather than frying it in deep fat.
Learning the difference in the types of fat that we eat and where these fats are found in our food is also important to controlling the cholesterol levels in our blood. Taking precautions today could prevent a heart condition tomorrow.
Here are some of the more common myths and facts that you should know provided by Rebecca S. Reeves, DrPH, RD, FADA.
Dr. Reeves served as past president of the American Dietetic Association, and has for the past 30 years conducted clinical trials in nutrition and behavioral medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. In 2001, the American Dietetic Association awarded her the Medallion Award, one of its highest awards.
Question: Are the healthiest diets ones that limit all fats?
Answer: You need to get 25 to 35 percent of your total calories from fats because your body can’t manufacture some essential fatty acids that it requires for proper functioning.
Question: Are all dietary fats essentially the same?
Answer: There are different kinds of fats. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may actually lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol while saturated and trans fat are more closely associated with increasing your LDL cholesterol. Examples of foods containing each variety include:
- Monosaturated: Olive oil, peanut butter, avocados
- Polyunsaturated: Salmon, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils such as corn, soybeans, safflower
- Saturated: Fatty red meats, bacon, real butter, tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil
- Trans fat: Fast-food french fries, many commercially packaged foods such as donuts, crackers and cookies. They’re found in anything containing “partially hydrogenated oils”. Even if the label claims zero trans fats, the serving can still include as much as 0.5 grams of trans fats.
Question: Are products that are labeled “low fat” generally also low-calorie options?
Answer: Some food manufacturers replace the fat with other ingredients that may have just as many calories.
Question: Does olive oil have fewer calories than other types of oils?
Answer: All fats – including olive oil -- contain nine calories per gram.
Question: Are foods labeled “trans fat free” usually healthy options?
Answer: Food manufacturers may replace trans fat with saturated fat, which can also raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol. By law, food manufacturers are allowed to include .5 grams of trans fats per serving, even if the food is labeled “zero.”