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Some Fats Deserve Change of Heart
Date:5/30/2008

Survey finds less than half of Americans know two particular fats boost cardiovascular health

FRIDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than half of Americans realize there are two types of dietary fat that actually help their hearts, a new survey shows.

So, while many have heeded the warnings about the cardiovascular dangers of trans fats and saturated fats, the American Heart Association (AHA) now thinks people need to pay more attention to the cardiovascular benefits conferred by polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

As a result of its recent survey, the AHA's new Face the Fats campaign has harnessed the power of the Internet to encourage people to view these lesser known fats with new respect.

"We're trying to take education to the next level and say when you have the opportunity to choose, choose the better fat, not the bad fat," said Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, the association's president-elect.

The campaign's Web page presents information at varying levels of sophistication. The pages include an interactive quiz on fats, menus, recipes and a Fats 101 course. A Fats Translator calculates a body-mass index from the input of height, weight, age and level of activity. The index is a scale ranging from under weight to obesity.

The AHA decided to go digital in this phase of its campaign because "the Web really is becoming the world's premier information source, so we have to be there," Yancy added.

"When we have lots of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in our diet, our HDL cholesterol goes up and helps protect our arteries from clogging up and hardening," explained Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern. "HDL kind of acts like a broom and sweeps up the artery-damaging molecules and takes them away."

Trans fats and saturated fats are more able to stick to blood vessel walls and harden arteries, Yancy added.
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