Although your body creates its own fat from excess calories, there are other kinds of fats that we get through our diet.
Dietary fats include:
- Monounsaturated fat
- Polyunsaturated fat
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthy in some ways, but saturated and trans fats have a different chemical structure and can have detrimental effects on your health.
Saturated fats get their name because they are fat molecules that are saturated with hydrogen. This means that they’re solid at room temperature, for example, butter, shortening, or coconut oil.
When consumed, they can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood and increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.
Why You Should Avoid Saturated Fats
Saturated fat is associated with raised levels of LDL cholesterol, which can lead to blockages in your heart and other parts of your body. This harmful type of cholesterol also increases your risk for heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends that in a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 120 calories should come from saturated fat. Alternatively, adult men and women should not eat more than 30 grams and 20 grams of saturated fat a day respectively.
Foods With Saturated Fats
1. Red Meat
Beef, lamb, and pork are all high in saturated fat. Even lean cuts of beef contain 4.5 grams of saturated per 100-gram serving.
2. Full-Fat Dairy Products
Whole milk contains 4.5 grams of saturated fat in a 1-cup serving, whereas the same amount of 1% milk contains only 1.5 grams. Creams are the worst culprits, with 1 cup containing 28 g of saturated fat.
However, studies show that fermented dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, and cheese may have a positive effect on your heart.
Butter’s high saturated fat content is one reason why many baked goods aren’t good for you. Just one tablespoon of butter has 7 grams of saturated fat.
4. Coconut Oil
Although tropical oils have some health benefits, they are also high in saturated fat. In fact, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, beef fat, or lard. It is about 90% saturated fat, with 1 tablespoon containing a whopping 12 grams.
5. Ice Cream
A study done by the Center for Science in the Public Interest looked into America’s top ice cream parlors to determine the calorie and saturated fat content of the sweet treat.
One popular sundae contained 1,270 calories and 38 grams of saturated fat, which is the equivalent of eating a T-bone steak, Caesar salad, and a baked potato with sour cream.
6. Baked Goods
Many baked goods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, and brownies are high in saturated fat. For example, one 100 gram brownie serving can contain as much as 10.64 grams of saturated fat.
Your body needs fat to survive. However, not all dietary fats are created equal.
Replacing foods high in saturated fats and trans fats with healthier alternatives can be a life-saving switch. It can help lower your blood cholesterol levels and improve the types of lipids (fats) in your blood. Here are two healthier dietary fats:
Polyunsaturated fats, which are also called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are dietary fats commonly taken as supplements.
They provide numerous health benefits, including:
- Curbing joint pain
- Lowering blood fat levels
- Lowering blood pressure
- Decreasing inflammation
- Combatting depression
Sources of polyunsaturated fats include:
- Vegetable oils such as olive oil
- Salmon, mackerel, herring, and trout
- Walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, and brazil nuts
Monounsaturated fats are another good alternative to saturated fats. If eaten in moderation, they can improve your heart health and develop and maintain your body’s cells.
Foods high in monounsaturated fats include:
- Plant-based liquid oils
- Peanut butter
- Nuts and seeds