Saturated fats – we’ve all heard about them. Some say they’re good, some say they’re bad. Some say we should avoid them completely, other people say that saturated fats are healthy in small amounts.
So, should you eat saturated fats, or avoid them? What foods contain saturated fats? Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about saturated fats.
Everything You Need To Know About Saturated Fats
The first thing we need to make clear is what exactly a saturated fat is in the first place. Saturated fats are fats that are derived from animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy. However, they are also found in a handful of plant foods such as coconut and palm oils. Saturated fats are always solid when at room temperature. In chemical terms, they’re fats that lack double bonds between the carbon molecules in them. Instead, they’re “saturated” with hydrogen molecules.
The Effect Saturated Fat Has On The Body
When you consume saturated fat, it has been proven to increase your levels of ldl cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol.
In turn, this can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease if you consume high amounts of it.
Did you know that if you get too much saturated fat in your diet, it can even lead to Type 2 diabetes?
That said, it’s important to remember that there are two types of saturated fats – the type that comes from animal products, and the saturated fat that comes from plant sources such as coconut and palm oil.
If you consume saturated fat from the plant sources such as raw coconut oil, it can actually benefit your body due to all of the powerful anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties that coconut oil contains.
The Highest Sources of Saturated Fats
Here is a list of some popular foods that contain saturated fat:
- Dairy products
- Ice cream
- Ground beef
- Hot dogs
- Dairy desserts
- Fried foods
- Whole milk
- Palm oil
- Coconut oil
- Palm kernel oil
Some types of saturated fats are definitely worse than others. For example, heavily fried foods (especially meat) that already contain large amounts of saturated fats should be avoided.
This includes fried chicken, bacon, fried eggs, sausages, and burgers. Red meat is especially high in saturated fat, and so is melted cheese. This makes pepperoni pizza a food that should not be consumed every day.
How Much Saturated Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
Just because we need to limit our intake of saturated fat in our diet doesn’t mean that we should cut it out completely. Saturated fat only becomes a problem when we consume it in excess.
The American Heart Association recommends that you try to limit your saturated fat intake to 5-6% of your calories. This means that if you consume 1800 calories a day, 90 of those calories should be coming from saturated fat. This equates to consuming around 10 grams of saturated fat a day.
Unfortunately, on average, most Americans consume around 26 grams of saturated fat a day. This is double the recommended amount!
This is where the health problems begin to kick in. A beneficial and realistic goal would be to aim for consuming 10-15 grams of saturated fat daily.
How to Construct Your Diet?
The best way to limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat is to focus on eating whole foods, with an emphasis on plants.
more: What Is Saturated Fat?
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds should make up the bulk of your diet.
In terms of animal protein, the best sources would be lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and fish. Try to limit red meat, all fried food, and as much dessert/baked goods as possible.
An example of a healthy breakfast low in saturated fat would be a fruit smoothie with bananas, spinach, frozen mango, chia seeds, flax seeds, and almond milk.
For lunch, you can make a quinoa salad with quinoa, lettuce, corn, cucumbers, and other vegetables of your choice with a lemon juice vinaigrette.
For dinner, why not make some brown rice with a vegetarian chili full of kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, bell pepper, and corn?
There are many recipes you can find online that are low in saturated fat. If you get hungry during the day, snacking on fruit such as apples, bananas, or grapes is always a good idea.
So What’s The Bottom Line About Saturated Fats?
In conclusion, saturated fat is something that should not be consumed in excess.
However, small amounts can be beneficial to your body. As long as you aim for an average of 13 grams of saturated fat per day, you can still follow a balanced and healthy diet without any of the negative health effects that come from consuming high amounts of saturated fat.
If you want more information or want to see if your body has been affected by high saturated fat levels, the best thing to do would be to contact your doctor or local nutritionist.