Saturated Fat: Safe Or Not

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Eating saturated fat is unavoidable at times, but it is important to keep your levels low to protect cardiovascular health.

What is Saturated Fat?

Saturated fat is a type of fat molecule that lacks double bonds between the carbon since it is “saturated” with hydrogen molecules. Along with trans fats, saturated fats are considered some of the least healthy options for fat in the body, since it will increase overall cholesterol levels. More importantly, it raises levels of LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” form of fat that can contribute to a poor lipid profile in the blood.

As mentioned, some amount of saturated fat can be hard to avoid, but the recommendation is that your daily intake of calories should not have more than 5% in the form of saturated fats. In a normal diet, that is equivalent to roughly 100-120 calories, or between 12-15 grams of saturated fat. If you can completely eliminate saturated fat from your diet, that is ideal, but also unrealistic, so just keep it under control!

Flatline view of food high in fats, butter, sausages, bacon, dairy, chips, and meat chops on a slate background.

Minimize your consumption of saturated Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Effects of Saturated Fat

The effects of saturated fats include elevated cholesterol and a greater risk for heart conditions.

Cholesterol

More saturated fats mean more LDL cholesterol in your system, which can increase your risk of atherosclerosis.

Heart Disease

As more cholesterol is turned into plaque and deposited in the arteries, it will increase your risk of heart disease.

Stroke

With plaque in the arteries, blood clots can more easily form and get stuck, resulting in heart attacks or strokes.

How to Cut Down on Saturated Fat?

If you want to reduce your intake of saturated fats, some of the best things you can do include the following:

  • Step 1: Shop for reduced fat or low-fat foods.
  • Step 2: Compare different products to find the best balance between saturated and unsaturated fat.
  • Step 3: Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less red meat.
  • Step 4: Choose leaner cuts of meat.
  • Step 5: Trim visible fat from your meat.
  • Step 6: Use healthier oils when cooking your meals (use olive oil, not canola oil, for example)
  • Step 7: Cut down on junk food, snacks, and fast food, all of which are notoriously high in saturated fats.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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