Trimming the 'Fats'

Good fats. Bad fats. With so many new studies and research about saturated, trans and other fats coming at consumers faster than they can digest, it's hard to know how much and what types of fats should be digested.

To help cut through the fat, the American Heart Association has launched a "Face the Fats" Web site. is designed to help consumers get the facts and learn how to reduce trans fat and saturated fats in their daily diets.

According to the AHA, the body needs some fat to function properly, but not all fat is created equal.

Healthy fats like unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids support the production of cells and hormones in your body, while unhealthy fats such as saturated and trans fats can clog arteries and lead to heart disease.

Common cooking oils and foods that are loaded with unsaturated fats and omega-3s are:

• Olive oil, vegetable and canola oils
• Avocados
• Most nuts especially walnuts and almonds
• Seafood, salmon, mackerel and herring
• Flaxseeds, flaxseed oils

Consumers should be weary of clever marketing and food labeling, according to the AHA. A healthy sounding food label such as "all natural," "low fat," "fat-free," or "contains no trans fat," does not necessarily mean the food being described is healthy, as a check of the ingredient label could reveal it contains saturated fats and/or added sugars.

When buying food, pick the products with unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can actually lower a person's risk of heart disease when used in moderation by decreasing the lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.

Saturated, trans-fats, and dietary cholesterol, on the other hand, are the more harmful fats and should be eaten sparingly of because they increase a person's chances of heart disease and can raise LDL cholesterol levels.

Common food sources high in saturated fats and cholesterol are include:

• Red meat, poultry, eggs
• Margarine, lard and shortening
• Dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese and ice cream
• Coconut, palm and other tropical oils
• All prepackaged foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, especially baked goods like cookies, cakes, crackers and donuts

The AHA says a healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain/high-fiber and low-fat foods can also include the foods people love. Making sugary or salty foods a treat rather than a norm is key to a healthy heart.

The savvy consumer also should be mindful that she doesn't replace the trans-fat she's cut out of her diet with another harmful type of fat, like saturated fat. Chips, for example, that claim to be "baked," and "all natural," often have hidden added preservatives, sugars and hydrogenated oils in them that are equally bad for you.

When preparing food at home, the AHA recommends cooking with olive oil rather than butter and hydrogenated oils. Also, snack on fresh fruit and vegetables rather than potato chips, crackers and popcorn, which often contain hydrogenated oils. For more tips visit the AHA's "Face the Fats" Web site. health writer Kyle Ellen Nuse contributed to this report.

For more great information on living healthy through every decade of life, click here to check out Dr. Manny's book The Check List (Harper Collins, 2007).

Dr. Manny Alvarez is the managing editor of health news at, and is a regular medical contributor on the FOX News Channel. He is chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Additionally, Alvarez is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit