Logo: American Heart Association Certified Check Mark, Meets Criteria for Heart-Healthy FoodBy AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

The American Heart Association now is accepting some liquid vegetable oils for Heart-Check certification, a step the organization hopes will help consumers better understand the role of fats in a healthy diet.

Manufacturers of canola, olive, corn and corn-based vegetable oils can apply for the AHA’s Heart-Check program. If the product meets the program’s nutrition criteria and other requirements, it can bear the recognizable Heart-Check mark. A 2014 consumer research survey showed that about 72 million people use the symbol to help guide their grocery shopping.

Although other healthy vegetable oils exist, the eligible oils are among the lowest in saturated fat and provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower bad cholesterol, according to the AHA.

These oils are currently the only kind the Food and Drug Administration allows to make heart-health claims.

Although fats have more calories than carbohydrates or proteins, they perform important functions in the body, such as helping supply energy, supporting cell growth, producing hormones and helping the body absorb certain nutrients. Excessive calories of any source lead to weight gain or being overweight.  High levels of saturated or trans fats can contribute to heart disease and stroke.

The AHA recommends eating a balanced diet that includes good fats, while balancing the number of calories consumed with the number burned.