Healthy Eating: Oils & Fats

Dietary fat can be classified into four groups: saturated; monounsaturated; polyunsaturated; and trans-fat.  Each type of fat behaves differently inside the body.  Saturated and Trans fats contribute to the risk of cardiovascular diseases.  Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats both tend to lower LDL blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fats in your diet.

Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like cooking oil.  Oils come from many different plants and from fish. Oils are NOT a food group, but they do provide essential nutrients.  Most oils are high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, and low in saturated fats.

Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature.  Solid fats come from animals and can be made from vegetable oils through a process called hydrogenation. Some common fats are: butter, milk fat, stick margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated oil.

You can make your diet healthier by choosing leaner cuts of meat and switching to reduced-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.  Replace butter with olive oil or margarine.  Skip that fried fast food and opt for a sandwich or wrap made with lean meat and a salad instead.

Information for this article was provided by the Warm Springs Diabetes Prevention Program.