nutrition label
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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.

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ice cream and greek yogurt
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Ice Cream or Greek Yogurt?

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greek yogurt
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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.

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chicken thigh and salmon
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Chicken Thigh or Salmon Filet?

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chicken thigh
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Chicken Thigh

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.

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bison and cow
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Bison Patty or Beef Patty?

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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.

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sirloin and milk
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Beef Sirloin or 2% Milk?

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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.

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cheese pizza and potato chips
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Cheese Pizza or Potato Chips?

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cheese pizza
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Cheese Pizza

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.

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glazed doughnut and avocado
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Glazed Doughnut or Avocado?

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glazed doughnut
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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. 

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macadamia nuts and pork loin
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Macadamia Nuts or Pork Tenderloin?

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macadamia nuts
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Macadamia Nuts

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.

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bacon and coleslaw
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Bacon or Cole Slaw?

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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.

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cafe latte and french fries
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Caffe Latte or French Fries?

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cafe latte
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Caffe Latte

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.

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butter and olive oil
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Butter or Olive Oil?

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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.

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coconut milk and half and half
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Coconut Milk or Half-and-Half?

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coconut milk
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Coconut Milk

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.

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almond milk and soy milk
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Almond Milk or Soy Milk?

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soy milk
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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.

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hard boiled egg and blue berry muffin
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Egg or Blueberry Muffin?

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blueberry muffin
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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.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 01/28/2020 Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on January 28, 2020


Thinkstock Photos



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."


USDA Household Food Fact Sheet: "Salmon, Sockeye, Frozen, Fillets."

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on January 28, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.