Trans fats contribute to heart disease

August 25, 2015 By By Jillian Wanik, DCN, RDN, Registered dietitian

Jillian Wanik, RDThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently passed legislation requiring food companies to eliminate all added trans fats from foods by 2018. Trans fats are a type of fat that contribute to heart disease. But not all fat is unhealthy; fat is a necessary nutrient for your health and some fats offer heart-protective benefits. Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat that may help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health. Monounsaturated fats also lower blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends including foods with these fats (in moderation!) to your meals. For more tips on healthy fats visit the Academy’s website at

Foods containing Omega-3 fats

  • Fatty fish: Current dietary recommendations are to include fish in your meals at least twice a week. Fish high in omega-3 fats are salmon, albacore tuna (fresh and canned), sardines, lake trout and mackerel.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in vitamin E and an excellent plant-based source of omega-3. Add walnuts to cereal, salads or muffins. Try walnut oil in salad dressings and sautés, too.
  • Canola oil: Replace solid fats like butter or margarine with canola oil when cooking or baking. It works well for sautéing and stir-frying.
  • Flaxseed: Add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereal, yogurt, baked goods like breads and muffins or mixed dishes and casseroles. Or drizzle flaxseed oil over quinoa or use it for salad dressing. (Your body cannot break down whole flaxseeds to access the omega-3-containing oil.)
  • Eggs: Some chickens are given feed that is high in omega-3s so their eggs will contain more as well; when buying eggs, check the package label.

Foods containing monounsaturated fats

  • Nuts: In addition to heart-healthy fats, nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Just keep portion control in mind. One portion of nuts is equal to one ounce or 1/3 cup and provides approximately 160 to 180 calories.
  • Olive oil: Use olive oil in place of saturated fat, such as butter. Use it in salad dressing or to sauté vegetables, seafood, poultry and meat.
  • Avocado: Avocados not only contain monounsaturated fat, but they are also packed with folate, vitamins E, C and B6, potassium and fiber. Try adding avocado to salad, pizza, soup, salsa, eggs and sandwiches.
  • Peanut butter: Nearly half the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat. Resist the urge to pour off the heart-healthy oil that’s separated out of natural peanut butter mix it back in and enjoy.

Jillian Wanik is a registered dietitian at The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC). For referrals to HOCC registered dietitians, call 860.224.5439. For referrals to HOCC physicians, please contact our free Need-A-Physician referral service by phone at 1.800.321.6244 or online,