The Dish: Go from Bad to Better

Updated:Jan 11,2014
Fats - The Dish with Dr. Eckel Column (640 px)Lately, it seems like trans fat is in the news every day, along with confusing messages about fat in general. You may be wondering:  Which fats are bad?  Which ones are better?  How much should we consume?  What foods are they in? 

Fats - Face the Fats LogoThat’s why the American Heart Association has launched Face the Fats.  We hope this campaign helps Americans understand dietary fats more, and how they affect our heart health. 

When we launched the campaign, one of the main messages was that while trans fat is getting a lot of bad press lately, it's important to keep the whole "big fat picture" in mind.  We need to watch both trans and saturated fats.  In fact, saturated fat represents most of our fat consumption in the United States.  The average American eats about 20 pounds of saturated fat and three and a half pounds of trans fat annually.   We need to reduce those "bad" fats in our diet and replace them with the "better" fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in foods like liquid vegetable oils, fish, nuts and seeds.  It's important to realize up front, however, that no matter what kind of fat you eat, the calories are the same.Fats - Bad Fats Brothers (spot)

As a guideline, the American Heart Association recommends people eat less than 7 percent of total calories from saturated fat and less than 1 percent of total calories from trans fat.  It's also important to be active.  I recommend getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

I want to say a special thanks to my new friend, the Food Network’s Alton Brown, who launched the campaign with us.  Alton and his entire team did a great job helping us get the word out.  Check out the video news clip of one of the interviews we did together.

As part of Face the Fats, we decided to add a little entertainment to our important education campaign.  We created the Bad Fats Brothers and animated their world so people can see why saturated and trans fats are "bad," how they affect your LDL cholesterol and foods that contain them.

We want you to be successful in your pursuit of a heart-healthy diet - so develop a game plan that's reasonable and has attainable goals.  The American Heart Association has several interactive tools, including the personalized My Fats Translator to help you know your total daily calorie and fat consumption levels.

We encourage you to check out these new resources and pass the word on to your friends and family.  Going from "bad" to "better" can be done - just take it one step at a time. 

Fats and Oils