A dietitian answers a question we've all been wondering about: is saturated fat really bad for you? Why is it so? What's the science behind it?
So, basically everywhere I go I see things like “low in saturated fat”, or “saturated fat clogs up your arteries and is bad for you”. Is saturated fat really bad for you? Should I avoid all saturated fat as a consumer?
How does Saturated Fat Lead to Cardiovascular Diseases?
Intake of SFA increases risk for heart disease
SFA have a chemical makeup in which the carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms. SFA are typically solid at room temperature and associated with CVD risk. It is because consumption of SFA increases the LDL (low density lipoprotein).
LDL is a lipoprotein that carries cholesterol from your liver to the rest of your body. When there is too much LDL in the blood, the overload of LDL can deposit cholesterol in the wall of the blood stream (artery).
Such deposit can narrow the artery and limit the blood flow. When a complete blockage is formed, it can cause stroke and heart disease. Because of this, SFA is referred as bad fat.
Examples of SFA are fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat (tallow), lard and cream, butter, cheese, palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil.
In short, the intake of SFA should be minimised (less than 7 % of total daily calories.) That means, for example, if you need about 2,000 kcal a day, no more than 140Kcal of them should come from saturated fats. That’s about 16 grams of saturated fats a day.
Saturated Fat Content
|Food Products||Saturated Fat (SFA) in g/100g|
|Chicken, ground, raw||2.3g
|Beef, ground, raw||5g|
|Lamb, ground, raw||10g|
|Palm kernal oil||82g|
Replace Saturated Fatty Acids with Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, NOT refined carbohydrates
Replace with healthy fat, for example polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA, like omega 3 and omega 6).
The main sources of omega-3 are fatty fish and some seeds like flax seeds, but fatty fish like salmon, sardines and herring really are the most desirable sources of Omega-3 because they contain the usable forms of the fat, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
The form of omega-3 often found in plants sources like flax seeds and walnut is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and needs to be transformed to a usable form to the body. The process is not efficient at all and only a small fraction of Omega-3 in the ALA form ends up being transformed to a usable form.
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