Let’s Talk About Saturated Fat

What is Saturated Fat?

Saturated fat is found mainly in animal foods, such as butter, milk and milk products, beef and pork, chicken skin, and lard. Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils are also saturated fats.

Most health experts agree that a diet high in saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease by raising total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Saturated Fat and the American Diet:

The largest sources of saturated fat in the American diet are:

1. Cheese (full-fat)                                      Saturated Fat

2. Pizza

3. Grain-based desserts (cookies, etc)

4. Dairy-based desserts (ice cream, milk-shakes, etc)

5. Chicken and chicken dishes

6. Sausage, franks, bacon, and ribs

What about Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil, a saturated fat, is the latest fad diet food. Its popularity is based on several claims that don’t hold up under scrutiny:

A study of Polynesian Islanders found low rates of heart disease despite a diet naturally rich in coconut meat and coconut oil.

The study fails to mention the many other possible reasons for the Islanders’ healthy hearts, such as a diet low in salt and cholesterol, and high in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, as well as low tobacco use.

About half of coconut oil’s fatty acids are medium chain (MC) fatty acids. MC fatty acids are known to not raise blood cholesterol compared to long chain (LC) fatty ac- ids.

The problem is, the fatty acid given credit for coconut oil’s protective effect is lauric acid, which is longer than most MC fatty acids, so some consider it to be a LC fatty acid. Regardless, a few studies have found that lauric acid improved the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol, but it also raised LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Furthermore, one study found that a coconut-oil rich meal damaged blood vessels and altered HDL particles, reducing their anti-inflammatory properties.

Build a balanced diet that includes foods with saturated fat only in moderation.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD


Content on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your health care professional. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

You know you need to eat healthier and make better food choices, but it’s so difficult. You’re probably strained for time to fix healthy meals after working all day or tending to kids. It’s super easy to grab a boxed meal or a boxed side dish and prepare that, right?It may be easy, but it’s not exactly the healthiest choice.

In today’s world, it can be difficult to not only make better food choices, but to distinguish what’s actually good for you and what isn’t.

Let’s look at an all time favorite, macaroni and cheese. It’s a staple in many homes because it’s quick, easy and kids love it. However, the varieties with powdered cheeses are full of additives and chemicals. So maybe you decide to try a healthier version. You buy plain pasta and a cheese sauce that’s in a jar or package. This is probably a better choice, but it’s still not a completely healthy choice. The healthiest choice is to use your own shredded cheese on the pasta. It may not melt as well or be as creamy, but time wise, it really doesn’t take much more effort to make a dish of mac and cheese this way.

However, if your kids have to have a creamy style, at least purchase the ones that come with an actual cheese sauce instead of a powdered mix.

Other high carb foods that are easy to grab and snack on are cookies, cakes and chips. These are full of carbs and preservatives. Better choices for snack foods are fresh fruits, air-popped popcorn and fruit popsicles. You can even go a step healthier and make your own popsicles using 100% fruit juices that have no added sugar. You can also add bits of fruit for an extra treat inside. Or, you can freeze grapes to use as ‘ice cubes’ in your kid’s juice. Once they drink the juice, they have an extra treat that’s thawed just a bit and can be eaten.

It can be hard to get away from processed foods, but once you learn a few tricks, it can be easier and a lot better on your health. Eating more natural foods will help you to feel better and give you more energy. This, in turn, can give you an extra boost to search for even more natural ways to cut out processed carbs and foods. Plus, having more energy may lead to you wanting to make more foods from scratch instead of buying boxed mixes.

Yes, using fresh, natural ingredients can be more expensive on your grocery bill, but once your body adjusts to healthier foods, you may find that cravings have stopped and you actually consume less food.