User's Manual: Your Heart

Dietary Fats Can Help—or Harm—Your Heart


5 Shortcuts to a Heart-Healthy Diet
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Heart-healthy fats
  • Unsaturated fats: The types of fats found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados, and fish can actually clear LDL while boosting HDL. A study by Harvard and Johns Hopkins researchers found that swapping a diet high in carbohydrates for one that's high in unsaturated fats improved the cardiovascular profile of 164 adults over a six-week period. The unsaturated fat diet decreased blood pressure, increased HDL, caused no significant increase in LDL, and lowered triglycerides.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in cold-water fish, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, and slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Large studies suggest that this fat can lower the risk of heart disease by more than 35% and can reduce the risk of sudden death from heart attack by more than 50%.
The landmark Lyon Diet Heart Study found that heart attack survivors who adopted a Mediterranean-style diet—low in red meat and dairy but rich in olive oil, nuts, fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables—lowered their risk of heart attacks, sudden death, and cardiac events by 50% to 70%.
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Last Updated: April 02, 2008

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