Learn about oils and heart health, and how to make healthy choices in your diet.

Does heart-healthy eating mean no oils, ever? You might be surprised to learn the answer. Oils contain fats, and your body needs fat for energy and to support the growth of cells. Not all fats are created equal, though, and they affect your body in different ways. It’s important to understand which oils have “good” fats and which have “bad” fats so you can make healthy choices in your diet.

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The “Good” Fats in Oil

When eaten in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, some fats can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. These “good” fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are liquid, plant-based oils, including:

  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sesame oil

Avocados, peanut butter, and some nuts and seeds also have “good” fats.

The “Bad” Fats in Oil

Some oils can raise your cholesterol level, which can raise your risk for heart disease. These “bad” fats are saturated and trans fats, and can be found in foods like:

  • Fatty cuts of meat, poultry skin, and butter
  • Whole or 2% milk, cream, and cheese
  • Coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Sweets and desserts
  • Processed and packaged foods

Making healthy choices

A heart-healthy diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, and lean proteins. When choosing your oils, be sure to stick with the “good” fats in moderation, and to limit the “bad” fats as much as you can.

It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about what is best for you based on your family history and risk factors. Your doctor might suggest talking with a registered dietitian, an expert on diet and nutrition, to help you figure out how to make healthy choices and still enjoy your favorite foods and flavors.

To learn more about lowering your risk for heart disease, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.