Step 1: Put away the butter, a source of saturated fat, which can cause skin-aging inflammation as well as drive up cholesterol.
Step 2: Start cooking with olive or canola oil, both of which are rich in monounsaturated fats. In one Norwegian study, people who ate more unsaturated (and fewer saturated) fats had healthier levels of LDL (so-called bad cholesterol) and heart-boosting HDL (good cholesterol). As long as youre not overeating, having good fats instead of butter and even in place of some carbohydrates like bread, pasta, or other starches is a heart-healthy eating strategy, says Washington, DC, registered dietitian Mary Dickie, M.S., R.D., who counsels people at risk of heart disease.
Hint: If you cant fathom the idea of drizzling olive oil on your morning toast (try it, it may surprise you!), choose a trans-fat-free buttery spread or stick margarine, since regular stick margarine is a prime source of trans fats.
Reviled by cardiologists as Frankenfats because they clog and inflame arteries, trans-fats still show up in many processed foods, tooespecially baked goods. You cant always go by the product label, since foods that deliver under 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving are legally permitted to claim to have no trans fats. Some non-dairy creamers, for example, are labeled 0 trans fats because theyre under the 0.5-grams-per-serving limit; but use several teaspoons of these to lighten your coffee, and you could get an unhealthy dose, says Dickie.
The best strategy: Check the ingredients list and avoid anything that contains shortening or partially hydrogenated oil.