TLC Daily Food Guide to Lower Your Cholesterol

Fats and Oils

You can help to lower your blood cholesterol when you replace saturated fats with unsaturated fat. Just be sure to limit the total amount of fats or oils to keep calories in check.

When buying fats and oils, remember to:

  • Choose liquid vegetable oils that are high in unsaturated fats -- like canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower oils.
  • Buy margarine made with unsaturated liquid vegetable oils as the first ingredient. Choose soft tub or liquid margarine or vegetable oil spreads.
  • Limit butter, lard, fatback, and solid shortenings. They are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Buy light or nonfat mayonnaise and salad dressing instead of the regular kind that are high in fat. For example, two tablespoons of regular Italian dressing can add as many as 14 grams of fat.

A Word About Margarine

You may have heard that margarine has a type of unsaturated fat called "trans" fat. "Trans" fats appear to raise blood cholesterol more than other unsaturated fats, but not as much as saturated fats. "Trans" fats are formed when vegetable oil is hardened to become margarine or shortening , through a process called "hydrogenation." The harder the margarine or shortening, the more likely it is to contain more "trans" fat. There are now margarines available that contain no "trans" fats. You can also read food labels and choose margarines that contain liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient (rather than hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil) and the least amount of saturated fat.

For more, please read the TLC Daily Food Guide to Lower Your Cholesterol

Portions of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/).


Last Editorial Review: 3/21/2003