Alert
Close

Introducing AARP RealPad: The Wi-Fi Tablet That Makes It Easy to Share, Learn, Connect and Play. Learn more

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
10,000 Games Galore Sweepstakes from AARP
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed

Big Fat Myths

Not all fats are created equal — which are the healthiest for you?

a bowl of olive oil, a good fat

Recent studies have shown that olive oil offers many health benefits. — Photo by Tara Donne

En español | When it comes to your heart, olive oil puts the "med" in Mediterranean. Not only can it lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and your risk of death from heart disease, but in a new French study of people 65 and over, olive oil users slashed their risk of stroke by 41 percent.

See also: 7 foods to keep you young.

If only the facts about other fats were so clear! Remember when margarine was supposed to be better for you than butter? Then research showed it was far worse. Ditto vegetable shortening. "No wonder consumers are confused," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

For the record, fat is an essential part of the diet; among its other functions, it helps the body absorb nutrients from foods. But not all fats are created equal. Unsaturated fats promote health, primarily by cutting cholesterol and thus lowering heart attack risk. The two main types of these "good" fats are mono-unsaturated fats, including canola and olive oils, and polyunsaturated fats, like corn and sunflower oils. "Any oil that is liquid at room temperature is heart-smart," says Blatner.

Saturated fats such as butter and lard have the opposite effect, raising blood cholesterol, particularly " bad" LDL cholesterol, and clogging arteries.

But of all the fats, the worst for your heart are trans fats, found in vegetable shortening and stick margarine. Trans fats result when liquid oils are pumped with hydrogen to make them solid. This trick of science gives processed foods a longer shelf life — but may shorten your own. The words partially hydrogenated oil on food labels signal the presence of trans fats.

Keep in mind that even good fats are loaded with calories, so they should not exceed 25 to 35 percent of daily calories.

You may also like: 5 weight loss myths.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams at private practitioners nationwide.

membership schwanns discount

Members get double Schwan's rewards on all online orders from Schwan's Home Service™.

AARP Discounts on ADT Companion Services

Members save 20% on new installation of ADT Companion Service®.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. 

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Official Sweepstakes Rules