Is saturated fat bad?


Quick Answer

Saturated fat is generally considered to be bad for health because it raises the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood. LDL is a type of cholesterol that can clog the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Additionally, foods high in saturated fats are usually high in calories; thus, overconsumption can lead to obesity.

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Full Answer

Saturated fats are generally found in animal products and processed foods. Some foods high in saturated fats include fatty beef, pork, cream, butter, cheese, eggs, chips, pastries, coconut oil, coconut milk, cocoa butter and palm oil. The American Heart Association recommends limiting consumption of saturated fats to around 5 or 6 percent of daily calories. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that equals approximately 13 grams of saturated fats per day.

From a chemical standpoint, saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature, are made up of carbon chains that are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms and have no double bonds between the carbon atoms. By contrast, unsaturated fats have at least one double bond in the carbon chain. A fatty acid chain with only one double bond is monounsaturated, and a fatty acid chain with more than one double bond is polyunsaturated. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which at room temperature are liquid, can aid in reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.

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