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Most Americans still confused about good vs. bad fats

Staff writer ▼ | June 8, 2016
Despite the influx of information about dietary fats becoming available to consumers nationwide, a new survey by the Hass Avocado Board (HAB) revealed that many Americans are still unclear about the definition and impact of "good" and "bad" fats.
Healthy food
Healthy eating   A survey of more than 2,000 adults
In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, more than a third (36 percent) incorrectly thought that all fats play a role in increased cholesterol levels, compared to 42 percent of respondents in 2014.

Respondents categorized as Millennials (aged 18-35) may feel more educated today about which foods to eat and which to avoid (66 percent), but they also incorrectly indicated that saturated fats are considered good fats (21 percent), up seven percent from 2014.

While some progress has been made over the past two years, there's still work to be done to educate consumers.

The survey indicated that there's a hunger for healthy choices. Millennials try hardest (71 percent) among the overall population (67 percent) to make some or a strong effort to eat more foods high in good fats.

Millennials also said they feel more educated today about which foods to eat and which to avoid, (66 percent) versus the entire population (62 percent).

Encouragingly, more than three-quarters of overall respondents (82 percent) said they're paying attention to this type of information. But this doesn't equate to understanding.

Despite this level of confidence, there are still an alarming number of misconceptions. One in five people (21 percent) mistakenly thought that trans fats are good fats. The Millennial group responded similarly, at 22 percent.

Millennials (63 percent) trail behind the overall population (72 percent) in believing a positive impact of including good fats in their diets is the lowering of bad cholesterol. Even fewer Millennials (61 percent) feel including good fats lessen the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

And while most respondents were fairly adept at indicating that nuts (76 percent), salmon (74 percent), olive oil (69 percent) and avocados (68 percent) contain good fats, Millennials haven't quite caught on (71 percent, 65 percent, 59 percent and 65 percent, respectively).

Specifically, more Hispanics (73 percent) know that avocados are a good source of fat than the population at large.