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Fats That Raise Cholesterol

Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. for both men and women. Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don't is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease. Saturated Fat is the main dietary cause of high blood pressure. It is usually solid at room temperature and found mostly in foods from animals and some plants.

  • The American Heart Association recommends you limit your saturated fat intake to 7-10 percent (or less) of total calories each day.
  • Foods with saturated fat include: beef, pork, dairy products made from whole milk, coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.

Hydrogenated Fat raises blood cholesterol. During food processing, fats may undergo a chemical process called hydrogenation (common in margarine and shortening).

  • Use hydrogenated fat only if it contains no more than two grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.

Polyunsaturated Fat is an unsaturated fat found primarily in oils from plants.

  • Foods containing polyunsaturated fat include: safflower, sesame and sunflower seeds, corn, soybeans, many nuts/seeds and their oils.
  • Limit your polyunsaturated fat intake to 10 percent of total calories.

Monosaturated Fat is an unsaturated fat found primarily in oils from plants.

  • Foods containing monosaturated fat include: canola, olive, and peanut oils as well as avocadoes.
  • Limit your monosaturated fat intake to 20 percent of total calories.

Both polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats may help lower your blood cholesterol level when you use them in place of saturated fats in your diet.

Trans-Fatty Acids (TFA) tend to raise total blood cholesterol levels. They are found in various animal products and are also formed during the process of hydrogenation. Some scientists believe they raise cholesterol levels more than saturated fats. According to one comprehensive study, they double the risk of heart disease in women.

  • Foods containing TFA include: beef, pork, lamb, and the butterfat in butter/milk. Also, they are found in margarine, shortening, and cooking oils.
  • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils provide about three-fourths of the TFA in the U.S. diet.

Because there are no standard methods, it's difficult to estimate the TFA content of food items. Recently, the FDA passed a regulation requiring trans fat to be listed on the nutrition label. Food manufacturers have until 2006 to comply.


Research has shown that kids as young as eight already have high cholesterol and blood fats that clog arteries. Some unhealthy foods they consume include: pop tarts, cookies, fast food, microwave popcorn, donuts, crackers, cake, and canned biscuits.

  • Use naturally-occurring, unhydrogenated oil such as canola or olive oil.
  • Foods that come from nature won't have trans or hydrogenated fats such as: fruits, vegetables, chicken, turkey, fish, beans, grains, breads, and some cereals.
  • Use soft margarine over harder stick forms. Look for margarine with no more than two grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and with liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient.

For more practical information on cholesterol, please go to our web site @ http://www.adventisthealthcare.com/AHC/Atoz/dc/caz/card/chod/chod_gen_ovw.asp


American Heart Association, University of Maryland , American Dietetic Association and Washington and Shady Grove Adventist Hospitals . The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is located at 9901 Medical Center Drive in Rockville . For more information on health classes, screenings or support groups offered at the hospital go to www.ShadyGroveAdventistHospital.com., or call 1-800-542-5096. To find a local physician, call 1-800-642-0101, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.