DALLAS, Sept. 14 -- Limiting the amount of saturated fat, such as butter or animal fat, in your diet is a good idea. Now the American Heart Association is recommending that you replace some of that saturated fat with monounsaturated or polyunsatured fat. Monounsaturated fat is abundant in olive and canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn or soybean oil.
Reporting in today's issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., the author of the statement and a member of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, says, "Previous studies have associated a Mediterranean-style diet with a lower risk of heart disease. These diets are rich in monounsaturated fats, primarily olive oil," says Kris-Etherton.
Other good sources of monounsaturated fats are peanuts and other nuts, avocados, and olives. Nuts, seeds and fish are good additional sources of polyunsaturated fats.
"These studies are telling us that the type of fat may be as important as how much of it is eaten," she says.
Many Americans have been trying to cut the fat from their diets by eating more grains, fruits, vegetables and other carbohydrates. Such a diet tends to lower LDL cholesterol, the so-called 'bad' cholesterol. However, high carbohydrate diets may also reduce the 'good' cholesterol, HDL, and raise triglycerides. Blood vessels narrowed by a buildup of LDL cholesterol are more likely to be blocked by blood clots, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Kris-Etherton says a diet containing monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats will not reduce a person's HDL cholesterol.
"Some studies have found that these monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may make the platelets -- clotting components in the blood -- less sticky and less likely to form clots," she says. Blood clots in the blood vessels can trigger a heart attack or stroke.