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Looking Out for Trans Fats, Blindsided by Saturated Fats continued...

Yes, trans fats are particularly bad. They raise total cholesterol. They raise LDL "bad" cholesterol. And the double whammy is that they lower HDL"good" cholesterol.

But as Eckel points out, saturated fats aren't a whole heck of a lot better. They can do a world of harm to your heart if not eaten in moderation. And when it comes to saturated fat, we tend not to be moderate.

"The health message is more than trans fats. But this message is ignored: 12.4% of our total calories come from saturated fats. That's twice what we should be eating," Eckel says.

Where to Find Trans Fats

Where are trans fats?

Here's a list of foods typically high in trans fats:

  • French fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Pastries (also high in saturated fats)
  • Hard margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Cookies (also high in saturated fats)
  • Crackers

While many restaurants and manufacturers have started making trans-fat-free versions of these foods, this still doesn't make them heart healthy.

Avoiding manufactured foods high in trans fats is essential, Eckel says, as we get plenty of trans fats from natural foods.

"Twenty percent of trans fat consumption comes from natural foods, not oils or solid spreads modified by the food industry to enhance shelf life or enhance palatability," he says. "And now we are avoiding trans fats in manufactured food products, if we eat beef or dairy we probably are consuming most of our trans fats through natural foods."

Here's a list of foods typically high in saturated fats:

  • Lard
  • Butter
  • Fatty beef (also naturally contain some trans fat)
  • Pastries (also high in trans fat)
  • Cookies (also high in trans fat)
  • Dairy products (also naturally contain some trans fat)
  • Whole milk

How to Eat Fewer Fats

Want to eat fewer fats? Here's advice that really works:

  • Don't deny yourself today only to binge tomorrow. Enjoy fatty foods in moderation.
  • To be moderate, fill up on healthy foods.

"People are getting sick of this negative message of what not to have," Bonci says. "Let's focus instead on foods we love to eat."

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