Fats and Oils: AHA Recommendation

Updated:May 9,2014

Fats - Salad with OIl and Bottle (original)  The American Heart Association recommends:
  • Eating between 25-35 percent of your total daily calories as fats, including fats in oils and fats in foods.
  • 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 140 calories (or 16 grams) should come from saturated fats.
  • Limiting the amount of trans fats to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories.  That means, for example, if you need about 2,000 calories a day, less than 20 calories (or 2 grams) should come from trans fats.
  • Limiting cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams a day for poeple without coronary heart disease (CHD) and to less than 200 milligrams a day for people with CHD.
  • 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.  Check out our Fats and Sodium Explorer tool to get your personal daily calories and fat and sodium limits.


  • 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.
  • Reduced-fat and no-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise.
  • Foods including fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout), avocados, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds.

Shopping and Preparation Tips

  • Use liquid vegetable oils or nonfat cooking sprays instead of butter or solid fats whenever possible.
  • Use reduced-fat, low-fat, light or no-fat salad dressings (if you need to limit your calories) on salads, for dips or as marinades.
  • Whether cooking or making dressings, use the oils that are lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol – such as canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil – but use them sparingly, because they contain 120 calories per tablespoon.
  • Use cooking styles that add little or no fat to food (such as grilling, broiling, and steaming), and order foods cooked that way when you eat out.
  • Remember to count the "hidden fat" in bakery and snack foods as well as the fats used in cooking and on vegetables and breads. Read food labels carefully.
  • Stay away from tropical oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.  Even though they are vegetable oils and have no cholesterol, they are high in saturated fats.


Fats and Oils

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Dictionary of Nutrition

View the entire Dictionary of Nutrition

This dictionary provides you with information on common nutrition terms to help you make heart-healthy decisions.

Fruits and Vegetables   Fish   Whole Grains
Sodium   Sugar   Fat

View the entire Dictionary of Nutrition