Fats and Oils: AHA Recommendation

Updated:Apr 29,2015

The American Heart Association recommends:

  • Eating a healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils and nuts, while limiting sodium, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats.
  • Limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat to less than 5-6 percent of your total daily calories.  That means, for example, if you need about 2,000 calories a day, less than 120 calories (or 13 grams) should come from saturated fats.
  • Limiting the amount of trans fats.
  • For good health, the majority of fats you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated

Most foods contain a combination of different fats.  All fats contain 9 calories per gram.  Eat foods with monounsaturated fats and/or polyunsaturated fats instead of foods with high levels of saturated fats or trans fats. 


  • Vegetable oils and margarines with liquid vegetable oil as the first listed ingredient.  Examples are canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower oils.
  • Soft spreads or liquid or tub margarines low in saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Foods including fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, herring, light tuna and trout), avocados, nut butters, and unsalte nuts and seeds.

Shopping and Preparation Tips

  • Use liquid vegetable oils or cooking sprays instead of butter or solid fats whenever possible.
  • Use oil, vinegar, citrus, and spices on salads, for dips or as marinades.
  • Whether cooking or making dressings, use the oils that are lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and sodium – such as canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.
  • Use healthy cooking styles such as grilling, broiling, and steaming, and order foods cooked that way when you eat out.
  • Remember to count the "hidden saturated and trans fat" in bakery and snack foods as well as the fats used in cooking and on vegetables and breads. Read food labels carefully.
  • Limit tropical oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil, they are high in saturated fats.

View our Fats Infographic!

Last reviewed 2/2015

Nutrition Center

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