What are saturated fats?
Saturated fats are a type of dietary fat that is solid at room temperature and is found in animal products, including meat, dairy products, and eggs. They are also found in some plant-based foods, like coconut oil and palm oil.
How do saturated fats impact my health?
Eating these fats in high amounts has been linked to many health risks. One of the most significant risks is an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats can increase levels of LDL cholesterol, which is known as "bad" cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol levels are too high, plaque may build up in the arteries and restrict blood flow. This greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Other risks associated with high intake of saturated fats are an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and obesity. A 2018 study comparing the health effects of eating different types of fat saw insulin resistance greatly increased for those who were overfed saturated fat compared to unsaturated fat or simple sugars. Insulin resistance can lead to diabetes. The risk of obesity is increased since these fats are high in calories. Consuming too much of them will lead to weight gain and make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Your liver may also hold on to some of this excess fat. Over time, this build up of fat on the liver may lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
How do I limit how much saturated fat I eat?
When trying to eat as little saturated fat as possible, a good way to start is by avoiding processed foods. These can include processed meats, like sausages and bacon, as well as baked goods and fried foods.
Another step is to choose options that are low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are good for your health because they can help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. They can be found in foods like nuts, seeds, fatty fish, avocado, and olive oil. Fish is also a good source of unsaturated fats.
Some practical tips to help avoid saturated fats:
- Choose lean cuts of meat and remove visible fat before cooking
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products, such as skim milk and low-fat yogurt
- Use vegetable oils, such as olive oil or canola oil, for cooking instead of butter or lard
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
In conclusion, saturated fats are a type of dietary fat that can be found in animal products and some plant-based foods. Consuming these fats in high amounts can increase the risk of several health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and obesity. To avoid eating too much, it is recommended to choose foods that are low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats, as well as limiting or avoiding processed foods that are high in saturated fat.
How can I learn more or get access to healthy foods?
The Wellness League Search Tool helps you find free and low cost programs in your community to learn more about healthy eating or find a food pantry. On the search page, simply enter your zip code and the resource you’re looking to find like “nutrition education” or “food pantry”.