If you are trying to make heart-healthy changes to your lifestyle and diet, it's helpful to know some basics about nutrition, starting with the components of food.
Types of fats
Fatty acids are the basic chemicals in fat. They may be saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, or trans fats. These fatty acids differ in their chemical makeup and structure, and in the way in which they affect your blood cholesterol levels.
Is used by the liver to manufacture cholesterol
Can raise blood cholesterol levels, particularly the LDL ("bad") cholesterol level (this raises your risk for heart attack and stroke)
Should make up no more than 10% of your daily calories.
Saturated fat can be found in meats, whole dairy products, butter, cocoa butter, coconut, and palm oils.
Examples of polyunsaturated fats include safflower, sunflower, corn, and vegetable oils, and soybean oils.
Examples of monounsaturated fats include olive and canola oils.
These are byproducts of hydrogenation. This is a chemical process used to change liquid unsaturated fat to a more solid fat. Trans fats will be found in an ingredients list as a partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fatty acids are similar in structure to saturated fat. They may have a great impact on raising total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. You should avoid trans fats as much as possible.
Examples of trans fats include stick margarine and fats found in commercially prepared cakes, cookies, and snack foods.
Your total fat intake should be no more than 30% of your daily calories.
Facts about fiber
Soluble fiber is found in foods like oat bran and dried beans. It can lower blood cholesterol in some people.
Insoluble fiber is found in foods like wheat bran. It helps with weight control because it makes you feel full. It does not help lower cholesterol.