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Fat facts

Fat isn’t always a dirty word. Your body needs fat to function, and many healthy foods are high in fat. But you need to make sure the foods you eat contain the good-for-you fats, not the artery-clogging type. Read on for a closer look at fat:

Good fats

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually lower your risk of heart disease if you eat them instead of unhealthy fats. You can find them in olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish and other foods.

Bad fats

Saturated and trans fats increase your risk of heart disease because they raise your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Meat, eggs, dairy products, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, baked goods, fried foods, shortening and margarine all harbor these unhealthy fats.

How much fat do you need?

You shouldn’t get more than 35 percent of your daily calories from fat. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. So if you eat 1,800 calories a day, you should eat no more than 70 grams of fat a day. To find out how much fat is in a food, read the nutrition label. Be sure to also look at the ingredients list, as trans fats sometimes go by another name: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. If you see this listed, you’ll know it contains some trans fat.