What is Saturated Fat?
Everyone has at one time or another heard the term ‘saturated fat’. We know that it is not good for us, but what exactly is saturated fat?
Saturated fat is normally found in products that come from animals.
Foods such as eggs, diary products, milk, cheese, cream and traditional ice cream, animal skin (turkey and chicken, and also cow skin which is eaten in some parts of the world), and animal fat are all sources of saturated fat.
Some processed meats also have a high saturated fat content. Some vegetable based foods are also high in saturated fat, such as palm oil and coconut oil.
The main characteristic of saturated fat is that it becomes solid at room temperature.
Health implications of saturated fat
There are two types of cholesterol to be found in the body, High Density Lipoprotein and Low Density Lipoprotein, commonly referred to as HDL and LDL. Good cholesterol or HDL transports cholesterol to the liver where it is converted into bile and disposed of. This type of cholesterol is responsible for carrying fat around in the body.
It is believed that it carries as much as seventy percent of cholesterol; it is for this reason that LDL is the bad cholesterol. The consumption of foods high in animal fat increases the level of LDL in the body and increases our risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and strokes. HDL is believed to help prevent against heart attacks and strokes by helping to keep the arteries clear of LDL
It has been found that saturated fat is the biggest contributor to high LDL cholesterol in the body. LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) is often known as bad cholesterol.
Scientists have also found that it is a contributory factor to heart attacks and hardening of the arteries (Atherosclerosis).
How to avoid consuming too much saturated fat
Just eating saturated fat is not necessarily the reason for its negative effect on our health, it is the amount of saturated fat that is consumed that matters most.
Some reports indicate that our health becomes compromised if we consume more than ten percent of the saturated fat in the amount of calories eaten.
Here are a few tips to help limit your intake of saturated fat and start you on a healthier diet:
Eat a diet low in cholesterol
Foods to eat include vegetables, fruits, chicken and turkey with the skin and fat removed, fish, whole grain foods and fat-free foods. To get the benefit of fish you should eat this at least twice weekly. Avoid consuming too much sodium as well.
Try to limit daily saturated fat to 7%
Try and limit your daily intake of saturated fat to seven percent. if you consume more it should not exceed twenty-five percent of your daily calories.
Persons who have high cholesterol should limit their daily intake to 300 mg per day. This is the doctor recommended level for those with high cholesterol. To control your cholesterol level you should exercise regularly and develop a habit of eating properly, using the food pyramid as a guide.