For the love of fats: Heart Health Month - U of I Extension

News Release

For the love of fats: Heart Health Month


February 1, 2017

Have you ever been told by a doctor you have high cholesterol? You are not alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes 73.5 million Americans suffer from high cholesterol. Having high cholesterol doubles the risk of heart disease. A healthy diet and regular exercise are the two best lifestyle weapons to fight back against heart disease, which is the number one killer in the United States.

What part of the diet affects cholesterol? Lisa Peterson, Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, explains, "Research shows trans fats and saturated fats can have a negative impact on blood cholesterol, but not all fats are harmful to health. The body needs fat for hormone production, absorbing nutrients, energy, keeping warm, and protecting organs." Poly- and monounsaturated fats help lower blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are found in plant-based sources and fish. Vegetable, canola, olive safflower, corn, and peanut oil are all sources of unsaturated fats. Nuts, seeds, avocadoes and dark chocolate also contain unsaturated fats.

Animal sources and dairy products contain saturated fat. Whole milk, cream, beef, pork, and chicken are all examples of saturated fats. Peterson adds that, "In most cases saturated fat, such as butter, is solid at room temperature with the exception of coconut and palm oil, which are both high in saturated fat. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature". Whether saturated or unsaturated, all fat contains the same 9 calories per gram. An excess amount of calories can lead to weight gain and obesity, another risk factor for heart disease.

"One simple suggestion for reducing saturated fat is sautéing vegetables in olive oil instead of butter," Peterson recommends. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines suggest limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day. Celebrate heart health month all through February and don't forget to wear red on Feb. 3rd for National Wear Red Day to bring awareness to heart disease in women.

For more information about living heart healthy contact Lisa Peterson 217-532-3941 or your local University of Illinois Extension office.

Creamy Chocolate Pudding Yield: 5-1/2 cup servings

2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon instant coffee* optional
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 ½ tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup fat free milk


1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend well.

2. Move to a bowl and refrigerate at least a half hour before serving.

Nutrition analysis per serving w/ instant coffee: 220 calories, 3g. protein, 12 g total fat, (2 g Saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 8 g dietary fiber, 10 mg sodium

Pull date: November 30, 2021