Q. My doctor told me to cut out fats to lower my heart disease risk. What’s the best way to do that?
A. I don’t completely agree with your doctor’s advice, so I’m going to answer a slightly different question than the one you asked. As we’ve said before in these pages, not all fats are bad for your heart and your health. There are “bad fats,” no doubt, but also “good fats” that are essential for our health.
You should generally avoid foods that are rich in “bad fats”: saturated fats and trans fats. Whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat, and coconut products are rich in saturated fats. Most margarine (except soft tub margarine), partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, deep-fried fast foods, and most commercial baked goods are rich in trans fats.
Sources of “good fats”—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—include fish, olives and olive oil, most nuts, avocados, and these oils: canola, peanut, corn, soybean, safflower, and cottonseed.
—Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief
Harvard Health Letter