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A Guide to Fats

Fats are a group of chemical compounds that contain fatty acids. Energy is stored in your body mostly in the form of fat. There are three main types of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Reducing all types of fat in your diet is best.

  • Saturated fats are found mostly in foods of animal origin: meat, poultry skin, butter, cheese and partially hydrogenated oils. Saturated fats increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol level in your blood.

  • Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean and sunflower oils. They can reduce LDL cholesterol levels but in excess they may also reduce HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

  • Monounsaturated fats are the primary fats in olive, peanut, sesame and canola oils. They raise HDL cholesterol as they lower LDL cholesterol, but they should be consumed in moderation.

  • Trans-fats are found in hydrogenated vegetable oils such as margarines and shortenings, and in many commercially made desserts. Trans-fats raise LDL and lower HDL cholesterol.