The type and amount of fat that you eat has a greater impact on your blood cholesterol levels than the amount of cholesterol in food that you eat. Different types of fat will affect your blood cholesterol in different ways.

Monounsaturated Fat

  • Decreases LDL (lousy) cholesterol
  • Usually liquid at room temperature
  • Sources: olive, canola and peanut oil, soft margarines that contain these oils, almonds, pecans and cashews

Polyunsaturated Fat (Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats)

  • Lowers total cholesterol
  • Liquid at room temperature


  • Omega 3 Fats
  • Sources: Ground flax seed, fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and herring), canola oil, omega-3 enriched eggs, some soft tub margarines, walnuts.


  • Omega 6 Fats
  • Sources: sunflower, safflower, soybean and corn oils

Saturated Fat

  • Increases LDL (lousy) cholesterol
  • Solid at room temperature
  • Sources: animal products such as meat, whole dairy products and lard
  • Found in vegetable shortenings, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, coconut and palm oil
  • Processed foods often have a significant amount of saturated fat

Trans Fat (manufactured)

  • Increases LDL (lousy) cholesterol
  • Decreases HDL (healthy) cholesterol
  • Formed when liquid fat is made into solid fat
  • Sources: hard margarines, vegetable shortenings and partially hydrogenated fats (found in cookies, crackers, French fries, frozen waffles and potato chips)

How much fat do we need?

Aim for 1 2 teaspoons of added fat per meal. Therefore, a total of 3 6 teaspoons of added fat (i.e. margarine, butter, dressings, mayonnaise) in a whole day.

What about dietary cholesterol?

Dietary cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol some, but not nearly as much as high fat foods. Cholesterol is only found in animal products such as meats, shellfish, eggs and dairy products. Use low fat dairy products and choose no more than 2 3 servings (5-7 oz) of lean meats and alternates per day.