Saturated fats and unsaturated fats are found in a wide variety of foods. Figuring out what types of fats to eat, especially if you're trying to lower lipids in your diet, can be confusing.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that 20 to 35% of your daily calories come from fat. Most of this intake should come from unsaturated fats. However, research suggests that eating only unsaturated fat may not be as good for your heart, and that eating saturated fat may not be as dangerous as previously thought.
Here's a quick overview of specific foods high in each type of fat. Read on to learn more about them and how they affect your diet and health.
What is saturated fat?
Saturated fats do not have double bonds in their chemical structure. They are saturated with hydrogen atoms. Due to their chemical structure, they are solid at room temperature.
Saturated fat can be found in a variety of foods, including:
- Animal meat , including beef, poultry, pork
- Certain vegetable oils , such as palm kernel oil or coconut oil
- Dairy products, including cheese, butter, and milk.
- Processed meats , including bologna, hot dogs, hot dogs, and bacon.
- Prepackaged snacks including crackers, potato chips, cookies, and cakes.
Why Limit Saturated Fat in Your Diet
The AHA recommends that less than 5-6% of your daily calories are saturated fat .
Although the amount of low-density lipoprotein in your body increases with saturated fat intake, studies have shown that low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels actually increase. Larger LDL particles do not appear to increase the risk of heart disease.
Some studies also show that foods that contain saturated fat can affect your heart health. A large study found that dairy consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease. At the same time, including processed meat in your diet can increase your risk of heart disease.
Based on the available data, experts disagree on the importance of limiting saturated fat in your diet. The AHA recommends limiting your intake of saturated fat. Dairy fats are considered a safe option. And all experts agree that meat products should be avoided.
What are unsaturated fats?
Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature. They differ from saturated fats in that their chemical structure contains one or more double bonds.
They can be divided into the following categories:
- Monounsaturated Fat : This type of unsaturated fat contains only one double bond in its structure. Monounsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and include canola oil and olive oil.
- Polyunsaturated Fat : This type of unsaturated fat contains two or more double bonds in its structure. They are liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats include safflower oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil.
Include unsaturated fats in your diet
The AHA recommends that most of your daily fat intake come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Foods that contain unsaturated fats include:
- Vegetable oils such as rapeseed, vegetable or vegetable oil
- Certain types of fish, such as salmon, tuna, and anchovies, contain unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids.
Difference between fat and cholesterol
Cholesterol and fats are lipids found in the food you eat that circulate through your bloodstream. Cholesterol has a more complex chemical structure than fats.
In the body, cholesterol binds to a protein in the form of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which are believed to increase the risk to heart health, and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which are called good cholesterol because they are considered healthy.
The amount of saturated and unsaturated fat in your diet can affect your total , HDL, and LDL cholesterol levels. Although the saturated fats found in beef, butter, and margarine can raise LDL levels, this type of LDL (large LDL particles) may not increase your risk of heart disease. It's best to cut back on saturated fat in your diet and avoid certain foods that are known to increase your risk, especially processed meats.
Fats in a diet to lower lipids
If you are watching your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, try eating a variety of healthy foods, such as lean meats, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
More research is needed to understand the effects of saturated and unsaturated fats on cardiovascular disease. While there is research showing that saturated fats are not as bad for heart health as previously thought, current guidelines still apply.
Both unsaturated and saturated fats increase the calories in foods and increase your waistline if you consume too much of one of them, so it is best to consume them in moderation.
Also, the type of fatty foods you eat can affect your lipid levels. A handful of nuts or lean beef is better than a bag of chips or hot dogs. Both can contain fat, but the former also contains vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients.
The latter may contain more sugar, chemical preservatives, salt, and trans fats . All of these can negatively affect lipid levels and heart health.
Get the word of drug information
It can get confusing if you want to figure out which fats to eat and which to avoid, as new research is changing what you may have heard before. The AHA continues to weigh research and make recommendations to reduce your health risks.
Frequently asked questions
Dietary fats are important for the health of your body. They provide energy, protect your organs, support cell growth, stabilize blood pressure, and help your body absorb certain nutrients.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower bad LDL cholesterol and provide the nutrients your body needs to build and maintain your cells. Polyunsaturated fats also contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for various bodily functions.
Trans fats are a type of dietary fat that can increase your risk of heart disease. It can be found in small amounts in animal products such as red meat or dairy products. Most trans fats are man-made and found in processed foods, fried foods, and commercial baked goods.