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Saturated fats: Found in red meat and dairy products, saturated fats raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Avoid them by staying away from meats, whole milk products, butter, cream, and other dairy products that are not labeled “nonfat” or “fat-free.”
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs): These are found in vegetable oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. Although PUFAs lower cholesterol levels in most studies, the relationship between PUFAs and cardiovascular disease and cancer remains unclear. The same is not true with regard to fish oil and olive oil (which contains monounsaturated fat), both of which are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and may be associated with reduced risk of certain cancers. A more healthful alternative to PUFAs are monounsaturated fats, which are found in abundance in olive oil.
Trans fatty acids (TFAs): TFAs are found in processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oils, including many commercial snack foods, “vegetable shortenings,” and margarines. Partially hydrogenated oils are also used in deep-frying, so many fast foods, such as French fries, contain large amounts of TFAs. TFA consumption greatly increases the risk of heart attack. Avoid TFAs by eating as many whole, unrefined foods as possible.
Highly processed foods: Be aware that highly processed low-fat or fat-free products often have as many or more calories as the full-fat versions and should be avoided. Simply because a food is low-fat or fat-free, doesn’t mean that unlimited quantities can be consumed. An excess of calories—whether from fat-free or high-fat foods—will be converted to body fat, regardless of whether those calories come from fat or from sugar (carbohydrate).
Dairy products to avoid:
Note: Be aware that many “fat-free” or “reduced fat” foods contain high amounts of sugar (such as high fructose corn syrup) which is converted by the body into fat.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2017.