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Monounsaturated Fats Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

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Sept. 13, 1999 (Baltimore) -- The type of fat found in olive oil is beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to an advisory just released by the American Heart Association (AHA). Monounsaturated fats are also found in canola oil, safflower oil, olives, avocados, and many nuts, including almonds, cashews, and peanuts.

The AHA advisory, based on current research, maintains that people should be trying to substitute foods or fats high in monounsaturated fats for other types of fat they may be consuming. "It's not enough to reduce total calories from fat in our diet," Alice Lichtenstein, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University and member of the AHA Nutrition Committee, tells WebMD. "We need to also pay attention to what types of fats we are consuming."

According to Lichtenstein, this means consumers need to learn to read nutrition labels and to start paying attention to what is on them. All labels contain information about the types of fats in foods.

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The AHA advisory also identifies some people who may benefit more than others from a diet high in monounsaturated fats. For example, type 2 diabetics can achieve better control of their sugar and cholesterol levels with a diet high in monounsaturated fats.

Ronald M. Krauss, MD, head of molecular medicine at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, tells WebMD, "The potential for benefiting people with diabetes by modifying their [cholesterol] is great. This diet would also seem to be beneficial for anyone with high triglycerides."

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