Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on January 21, 2022
What Is Saturated Fat?
It's a type of fat -- like lard, butter, or coconut oil -- that's typically solid at room temperature and is only good for you in small quantities. Too much can raise your LDL "bad" cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. That's why you shouldn't get more than 10% of your calories from saturated fat. That's 200 calories in a 2,000-calorie diet, or 22 grams of saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends even less fat--between 5% and 6% of your diet. In a 2,000 calorie diet no more that 120 calories should come from saturated fat.
Ice Cream or Greek Yogurt?
That's compared to 4 grams for ice cream. But there's a catch. The serving size for ice cream is smaller -- a half cup. There are "low-fat" and "nonfat" Greek-style yogurts that get rid of all or most of the saturated fat.
Chicken Thigh or Salmon Filet?
That's three times more than a serving of salmon. And that's without the skin, which adds more saturated fat. To cut back, try chicken breast instead. It has about 1 gram per serving.
Bison Patty or Beef Patty?
But that doesn't mean you can go wild with bison. It still has 3 or more grams per serving. In both cases, it pays to get patties made with leaner cuts of meat to cut down on saturated fat.
Beef Sirloin or 2% Milk?
That's double the saturated fat of a 3-ounce serving of top sirloin that's been trimmed of all visible fat. Even if you leave 1/8 inch of fat on, it only gets up to just over 2 grams. That said, milk is a better source of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium. Milk also has fewer calories.
Cheese Pizza or Potato Chips?
Per slice? That's right. When was the last time you ate one slice of pizza and stopped? But that doesn't mean it's open season for potato chips. A serving -- which is only about 15 chips -- still has a gram or so of saturated fat.
Glazed Doughnut or Avocado?
A whole avocado, though, has a surprising amount at almost 4 grams. Of course, it's also loaded with vitamins and minerals and has other health benefits. Not so much with the doughnut -- just a whole lot of sugar and simple carbs that spike your blood sugar, which can be bad for your health.
Macadamia Nuts or Pork Tenderloin?
Surprised? Yup, nuts can be good for you, but they have lots of fat and sometimes it's the saturated kind. Just a quarter cup of macadamia nuts has 4 times as much as a full dinner serving of pork tenderloin. But not all pork is created equal, and some have a lot more saturated fat, so do your homework before you start cooking.
Bacon or Cole Slaw?
We're talking about the traditional, mayonnaise-based, creamy kind. It's got nearly double the saturated fat that's in a sizzling slice of bacon. It's a reminder that saturated fat hides in many foods that you may not suspect.
Caffe Latte or French Fries?
A small order of french fries still has 2 to 3 grams of saturated fat. It's just that a latte has a lot of saturated fat. And the 16-ounce size is not usually even the largest size on the menu. Want a fat-free alternative? Try coffee with skim milk or green tea.
Butter or Olive Oil?
It's got more than three times the saturated fat of olive oil, which has just 2 grams per tablespoon. So try dipping your bread in a little olive oil instead of spreading on butter. Whichever you use, remember that both are loaded with calories, so it's best not to overdo it.
Coconut Milk or Half-and-Half?
That's about three times the fat in a cup of half-and-half, and it adds up to more than 2 days of the recommended amount. That's why it's a good idea to go easy. Just because coconuts grow on trees doesn't mean they are good for you in any amount.
Almond Milk or Soy Milk?
That's more than almond milk, which has almost no saturated fat. Both have far less than you find in full-fat dairy products like milk, cream, and cheese.
Egg or Blueberry Muffin?
The exact amount depends on the size of the muffin and the recipe, but it can have double or more the saturated fat in a boiled or poached egg. A muffin is also loaded with sugar and other simple carbs. An egg, on the other hand, is full of high-quality protein and other important nutrients.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Breasts vs. Thighs: Which Is More Nutritious?"
Cleveland Clinic: "What's the difference between fat and calories?"
Harvard Health Publishing: "The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between."