The Worst and Best Things to Eat for Your Heart
One of the easiest to limit (or avoid) in your diet—and it's quite harmful to your heart health—trans fat. Why are trans fats so harmful? Like saturated fat, trans fat raises your "bad" LDL cholesterol, possibly even more than saturated fats, according to research. Trans fat also lowers your "good" HDL cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fat you eat daily to less than 1 percent of your total calories. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, that translates to about 2 (or fewer) grams.
How can you limit, or eliminate trans fat from your diet? The easiest way to avoid trans fat is by skipping foods that contain "hydrogenated oil" or "partially hydrogenated oil" in their ingredient lists. Big culprits include packaged snacks, crackers, bakery goods and some margarines. Read labels carefully: if a package claims "zero trans fat," the amount per serving may be less than 0.5 g and could have been rounded down to zero, so the only way to be sure you're getting a product without trans fat is to read ingredient lists.
Trans fats are also found naturally—albeit in small amounts—in animal products, such as beef, pork, lamb and the butterfat in butter and milk. Limiting how much beef, pork, lamb and butter you eat and swapping full-fat dairy products, like milk and cheese, for low- or nonfat versions will help too.