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Health Tip: Saturated Fats vs. Unsaturated Fats

Which should you choose?

(HealthDay News) -- While it is necessary and healthy to have some fat in the diet, too much dietary fat can lead to obesity and other conditions like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Saturated fats contribute to higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and should be avoided in large amounts. Foods that are typically high in saturated fat include animal products like butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, and fat-laden meats. Some vegetable oils -- such as those from coconut, palm, and palm kernel -- are also high in saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats can actually lower levels of LDL cholesterol, so they are a good alternative to saturated fats. But even unsaturated fats are still high in calories, so excessive amounts in the diet should be avoided. Foods that are a good source of unsaturated fats include olives and olive oil, peanuts, and avocados.

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