Why Saturated Fat Is Not the Enemy (& Why We Need It)

Saturated fat is controversial in all nutrition. Its effects are different for different health conditions. Whereas, some experts warn that eating more or even moderate amounts of saturated fat affect negatively on health.

What Is Saturated Fat, And Why It Considered Unhealthy?

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Fats are essential compounds that are important for human health. There are three different categories of fats, such as unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. All fats are produced from hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen molecules.

Saturated fats are saturated by hydrogen molecules and consist of single bonds in carbon molecules. In contrast, unsaturated fats have a double link within carbon molecules.

This saturation of hydrogen molecules produces saturated fats being solid at room temperature, unlike unsaturated fats such as olive oil, which get liquid at room temperature.

Remember that different saturated fats are depending on their carbon chain length, including short, medium, and very-long-chain fatty acids, which offer a different effect on health.

Saturated fats are present in the animal product,s such as cheese, milk, and meat. It also presents in tropical oils, such as palm oil and coconut oil.

Saturated fats are usually listed as bad fats and grouped with trans fats, which is a fat type that is known to harm health. Even proof of the health effects of saturated fat consumption is far from conclusive.

For years, health organizations throughout the world have suggested to keep saturated fat consumption to a minimum and replace it with highly processed vegetable oils such as canola oil to lower heart disease risk and boost entire health.

Despite these suggestions, heart disease rates, which linked to regular saturated fat consumption for increased obesity and related diseases, such as type-2 diabetes, which some people blame on over-reliance on carb-rich, processed foods. Additionally, several studies, including large reviews, confront the recommendations to skip to avoid saturated fat and instead eat vegetable oils and carb-rich foods lead to approved intake confusion.

Additionally, different experts claim that one macronutrient can not be blamed for disease progression risk and the required diet.

Are Saturated Fats Bad For Heart Health?

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Saturated fat is recommended with specific limits because it increases heart disease risk, including bad cholesterol.

However, this subject is not black and white, and even it is clear that saturated fat commonly raises certain heart disease risk factors. There is no certain evidence that saturated fat raises heart ailment risk.

Saturated fat consumption may raise risk factors of heart disease but not heart disease

What Research Say?

Several studies have discovered that saturated fat consumption raises the heart disease risk factor, including bad cholesterol and apoB (apolipoprotein B). LDL transports cholesterol in the body. The higher number of LDL particles you have, the more risk of heart disease you get.

ApoB is a protein and a primary component of LDL. It is considered a strong predictor of heart ailment risk.

Saturated fat consumption has seen both of these hazard factors, as well as the bad to good ratio, which is a different heart disease risk factor.

HDL is good and protecting of hearing health. Having moderate levels of good cholesterol raises the risk of heart ailment and complications of the cardiovascular system.

However, well-designed research has discovered a link between saturated fat consumption and heart ailment risk factors. Research has failed to find out a significant relationship between saturated fat and heart disease. Additionally, present research does no shown link between stroke and saturated fats.

For example, a 2014 survey of 32 investigations that included 659,298 individuals found no critical link between immersed fat admission and coronary illness(Source).

According to a study of 2017 that involved 135,335 individuals from 18 countries for an average of 7.4 years showed that saturated fat intake was not linked with heart disease, stroke, and heart attack linked to death.

Likewise, discoveries from randomized controlled researches show that the overall suggestion to supplant immersed fats with omega-6-rich polyunsaturated fats is probably not going to diminish the risk of coronary illness and may even increase the sickness progress (Source).

Saturated Fat Benefits

In some recent studies, the medical establishment thought all fats are equally bad for health. All fats are created equal and they are all harmful to health. Things have changed in that area if only some. There is no doubt heard the drumbeat of present medical thinking on fats: some fats are now good for health, such as olive oil and canola oil, but others are bad for you like saturated fats and trans fats.

It seems that no matter how the information change about anti-fat camp, one piece of their advice suggests staunchly fixed. You should reduce your saturated fat intake. The next warning will invariably be, which has been shown to increase cholesterol and cause heart problems. Their overarching idea is that saturated fat is not healthy.

Here are the benefits of saturated fats.

Prevent Risk Factors Of Cardiovascular

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Saturated fats also play an essential role in cardiovascular health. Additionally, saturated fat to the diet lowers the substances called lipoprotein that linked strongly with the risk of heart disease. Presently there are no medications to reduce these substances, and the only diet can help by limiting saturated fat. Moreover, eating saturated fats also increase HDL levels.

Stronger bones

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During middle age, as a bone mass starts to decline, a vital goal (specifically for female) is to develop strong bone. Saturated fat is essential for calcium.

According to one of the primary researchers Mary Enig (Ph.D.) of Dietary-Fats-and-Human-Health, 50% of the fats found in the diet as saturated fats for this reason.

The majority of women asked to skip saturated fats and selectively used vegetable oils instead would start to lose bone mass, get osteoporosis, and make you get expensive medications and calcium to recover the bone loss.

 

Improved Liver Health

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Including saturated fat in your diet has proven in medical research to enhance the liver cells to reduce fat content. Removing fat from the liver is crucial. Additionally, saturated fat is shown to save the liver from the toxic effect of medications and alcohol, including acetaminophen and other medicine commonly used for arthritis and pain, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and even to limit the damage. Since the liver is the lynchpin of a healthy metabolism, anything that is good for the liver helps to remove the fat from the liver.

Healthy lungs

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For good function, the airspaces of the lungs have to be covered with a thin layer called lung surfactant. The fat content of the lung surfactant is 100% saturated fatty acids. Replacement of these essential fats by other types of fat create faulty surfactant and potentially causes a problem for breathing. The absence of the proper amount and the composition of this material cause collapse of the airspaces and respiratory irritation. It is the thing missing in the lungs of premature infants who have a breathing disorder named infant respiratory-distress-syndrome. Some researchers feel that the entire substitution of partially hydrogenated fat (trans fat) for naturally saturated fats in commercially produced foods play a role o increase asthma in children.

Moreover, the heyday of trans fats is stopping, and their use about to end. The unreasoning fear of saturated fat causes people to replace trans fat with excess polyunsaturated vegetable oil, which may not healthy.

Healthy brain

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You will be likely to surprise to know that the brain primarily functions with cholesterol and fat. Though many individuals are familiar with the quality of unsaturated fatty acids present in cold-water fish that benefit to nerve and brain functions. A diet that saves on healthy saturated fats takes your brain of the raw things required for optimal function.

Nerve signaling

Certain saturated fats, especially those present in butter, coconut oil, lard, and palm oil act as quick as messengers that influence the metabolism. It helps very critical jobs to release the proper release of insulin. Without the right signals, organs and glands find it difficult to do its job.

Promote immune system

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Loss of decent saturated fatty acid in the white blood cells impairs the saturated fats found in coconut oil and butter. These fatty acids are named lauric acid and myristic acid, which are necessary for immune health. Ability to know and prevent foreign particles such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Human breast milk is rich in the lauric and myristic acid, which have a strong germ-killing ability. The importance of the lives of the fat beyond childhood is required for the dietary restoration of them from adulthood, middle age, and seniority to manage the immune system against the growth of cancerous cells and infectious attackers.

Other Concerns Of Saturated Fat Consumption

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Although saturated fats have good benefits, they have negative concerns such as raised inflammation and mental decline.

For example, a study of 12 women discovered when compared with a diet high in unsaturated fat from hazelnut oil, a diet with high in saturated fat from a combination of 89% palm oil increase the pro-inflammatory proteins interleukin-1beta and interleukin-6.

Some evidence suggests that saturated fats promote inflammation with the action of bacterial toxins. These bacteria are named as lipopolysaccharides, which increase strong immunostimulant functions and can trigger inflammation.

However, research in this part is far from conclusive with some researches, including a 2017 review of unsystematic controlled trials, discovered an important link between saturated fat and inflammation.

Additionally, some studies have shown that saturated fat may have opposing effects on mental functions, metabolism, and appetite. Yet, human research in this part is limited, and verdicts are inconsistent.

More research is required to know these potential links before a strong conclusion.

Saturated Fat In A Healthy Diet

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You can add saturated fats as a part of a healthy diet. Coconut products, such as coconut oil, unsweetened coconut flakes, grass-fed whole milk yogurt, and grass-fed meat are the example of highly nutritious foods containing saturated fat, which may trigger death risk.

For example, reviews of research have found that full-fat dairy consumption provides a neutral or protective effect on heart disease risk. Whereas, coconut oil consumption has been shown to promote HDL cholesterol and benefit weight loss.

In comparison, consuming processed foods comprising rich saturated fats such as deep-fried foods and fast food has been connected to a high risk of heart disease, obesity, and certain health conditions.

Research also linked with dietary models containing rich unprocessed foods with protection against obesity, heart problem, and a decrease in risk factors, but of macronutrient composition.

How Much Saturated Fat Is Enough Every Day?

Most foods contain a combination of various fats.

You are in an ideal situation for choosing foods containing beneficial fats like monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. These fats will be fluid at room temperature.

Here are suggestions from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  • You should take no more than 25% to 30% of daily calories from fats.
  • You should reduce saturated fats to less than 10% of daily calories.
  • Moreover, lower heart disease risk, reduce saturated fats to no more than 7% of total everyday calories.
  • For a 2,000 calories diet, that is 140-200 calories or 16-22 gm of saturated fats per day. As an example, take one slice of cooked bacon consist of 9g of saturated fats.
  • If you have heart disease risk or high cholesterol, your health care expert asks to reduce saturated fat.

Understanding Nutrition Labels

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Every readymade and packed food consists of a nutritional label, including fat. Understanding the product labels can help to keep track of how much-saturated fat you are eating.

Check for 5% of the daily value from cholesterol and fats is low and 20% of the daily value from fats is more.

Pick foods with fewer amount of saturated and trans fat. Different fast food restaurants also offer nutrition details on their menus. You can also request them or check the restaurant website.

Proteins Containing High Saturated Fats

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Several animal products consist of high saturated fats, including:

  • Beef
  • Bacon
  • Breakfast sausages
  • Hot dogs
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Processed meats
  • Beef fat
  • Some cold cuts

However, following a diet with low cholesterol does not ban from consuming animal meat entirely. Eating these products at every meal can increase cholesterol.

Reducing meat consumption is one easy way to reduce saturated fat consumption. You can also pick lean or extra lean meats. Lean meats consist of less than 4.5 gm of saturated and trans fats ever 100gm, while more lean meats consist of less than 2gm of saturated fats and trans fats in every 100 gm.

Paying attention to trans fats is also essential since they lower HDL cholesterol and like saturated fats, also increase LDL, leading to heart disease risk.

Healthy Alternatives

These protein substitutes are better choices if you are looking to lower saturated fats consumption:

  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Soy products – Tofu
  • Poultry – Chicken and turkey

Dairy Products with High Saturated Fats

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Dairy products can also have saturated fats such as:

Cheese, creams, Whole milk, and ice cream.

Eating some dairy products can raise your saturated fat consumption, which is good for adding good dairy foods in the diet.

Healthy Alternatives

Choose low-fat varieties to reduce saturated fats from dairy foods, which are labeled skim, low fat, or part-skim.

Oils and Fats with High Saturated Fats

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There are different varieties of foods containing high saturated fats. Some of these high-fat options, such as cooking oils, cream-based salad dressings, can eat healthy and low-fat dishes. Here are the high saturated fats oils:

  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Cream-based dips or dressing
  • Palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil
  • Mayonnaise

Tricky Labeling

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While sugar-free products may seem healthy, fats are used as one substitute for a high amount of sugar. Similarly, low cholesterol foods often contain high saturated fats. Reading nutrition facts and the ingredients help to know how much-saturated fats you are eating. 

Healthy Alternatives

The alternatives are based on how you plan to use them. For example, some oils are better for cooking than others. That said, healthier options you can include canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, margarine.

Changing meal preparation helps to lower saturated fat consumption. For example, bake the chicken instead of frying or steam the fish. Lastly, using lowered fat varieties for dips or dressings can also prevent introducing more saturated fat in your diet. 

Tips To Eat Less Fat

Here are some tips to cut the total fat amount from your diet.

  • Compare food product labels when you shop so that you choose foods that have less fat.
  • Choose reduced-fat or lower fat dairy products or other alternatives.
  • Bake, grill, poach or steam food rather than roasting or frying.
  • Measure oil using one teaspoon to manage the amount you choose or utilize oil spray.
  • Trim some fat and consume the skin off meat before cooking it.
  • Choose leaner meat cuts that have less fat like turkey breast and low-fat mince.
  • Make stews and curries of meat by adding beans and vegetables.
  • Try to lower fat spreads like sunflower or olive oils. 

How To Reduce Saturated Fat

Here are practical tips to help to lower saturated fat.

At the shops

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Nutrition labels given on the packaging can help to lower the saturated fat. Check out for saturates or sat fat on the label.

High: Higher than 5g saturates per 100g may have a red color.

Medium: It comes between 1.5g saturates in every 100g with camber color code.

Low: 1.5g saturates or low in every 100g with green code color.

It is an example of product labels that show saturated fat content.

Try to choose foods with amber or green for saturated fat. There can be more differences in saturated fat content in the same products.

Choose the product that is lower in saturated fat. Serving sizes are very less in comparison.

At home

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Spaghetti bolognese: Use a less fat mince, as it provides less saturated fat. If you do not use less fat mince or brown the mince, then drain out the fats before including ingredients. Alternatively, combine meat mince with a meat-free mince alternative.

Pizza

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Choose a less fat topping, such as chicken, vegetables, tuna, other seafood in place of added cheese or cured meats like salami, pepperoni, and bacon.

Fish pie

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Use low-fat spread and 1% fat milk to low the fat in the sauce and mash.

Chilli

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Use less fat mince or combine in a meat-free mince alternative. Make a vegetarian chili using beans, lentils, and vegetables.

Chips

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Choose thick and straight cut chips in place of french fries or crinkle-cut to lower the exposed surface. If you are making your own, then cook them in the oven using some sunflower oil instead of deep-frying.

Potatoes

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Prepare roast potatoes with healthy cutting into large pieces then using with olive or sunflower oil.

Mashed potato

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Use low-fat spread in place of butter and 1% fat milk or skimmed milk in place of semi-skimmed or whole milk.

Chicken

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Choose leaner cuts, such as chicken breast. Before you consume, choose the skin off to low saturated fat content.

Bacon

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Choose back bacon in place of streaky bacon, which consists of more fat. Try to grill in place of frying.

Eggs

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Make eggs without using butter or oil. Poach, dry fry, or boil your eggs.

Pasta

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Try using the tomato-based sauce on the pasta. It is less in saturated fat than a cheesy or creamy sauce.

Milk

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Use 1% fat milk on cereal and hot drinks. It has semi-skimmed saturated fat.

Cheese

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Add strong tasting cheese to flavor sauce or dish such as low-fat mature cheddar. Make cheese by grating in place of slicing.

Yogurt

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Pick low fat or low sugar yogurt.

Eating out

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Here are some tips to reduce saturated fat when eating out.

Coffee

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Swap more whole milk coffee with regular skinny. Skip cream topping.

Curry

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Choose tomato-based or dry dishes, such as tandoori in place of creamy curries like pasanda, korma, or masala. Choose chapati and plain rice instead of naan.

Kebabs

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Choose shish kebab with salad and pitta bread instead of doner kebab.

Chinese

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Choose less fat dishes, such as chicken chop suey, steamed fish, or Szechuan prawns.

Thai

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Try a steamed dish or stir-fried dish with chicken, vegetables, or fish. Avoid curries containing coconut milk and saturated fat.

Snack time

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Change your foods containing high salt, sugar, and fats such as doughnuts, chocolate, and pastries with fruits, wholegrain toast, low sugar yogurt, unsalted nuts, fruit loaf, and malt loaf.

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