(Family Features) - Confused about the role of good fat versus bad fat in your diet? A little knowledge can go a long way toward helping you make confident choices for a heart-healthy eating plan.
First -- we all need a little fat in our diets -- it provides energy and helps absorb important nutrients. But most of us get more than we need, and that can be bad news for your heart and blood vessels. There are four major types of fat in foods: saturated and trans -- the "bad fats"-- and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated -- the "better fats." Saturated and trans fats tend to be more solid at room temperature, (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (like liquid vegetable oil). The "bad fats" raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. The "better fats" don’t seem to raise bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed in moderation.
A heart-healthy diet also means eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. These all contribute to an overall low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, contributing to healthy blood lipid levels.
While you are in the grocery store, shop smart. Look for the American Heart Association’s heart-check mark on foods. The mark is your assurance that the food is low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
You can also build your personalized heart-healthy grocery shopping list for free at heartcheckmark.org.