Is saturated fat bad for you, or is saturated fat good for you? There seems to be quite a difference of opinion in the health world of whether or not saturated fat is a killer. Saturated fat is not the devil it’s made out to be. In actuality, saturated fat has many health benefits.
Saturated vs Unsaturated Fat
What is saturated fat? Without diving too far into the chemistry of lipids, saturated fats are fatty acids that have all its carbon bonds occupied (saturated) by hydrogen atoms. This makes them very stable, especially when heat is applied to them (more on that later). Saturated fats are also solid at room temperature.
What is unsaturated fat? Unsaturated fats consists of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In contrast to saturated fats, these fats lack hydrogen atoms, which makes them less stable, and liquid at room temperature. Olive oil is probably the most famous of monounsaturated fats. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) fall into the polyunsaturated category. These fats go bad easily, and therefor tend to stay refrigerated. Even refrigerated they remain liquid.
Benefits of Saturated Fat
- Improved immune system
- Provides cell integrity
- Helps in the absorption of calcium
- Protects the heart
- Helps assimilate fat soluble vitamins
The list of benefits of saturated fat is long. Saturated fat is involved and needed in many of the body’s natural functions.
Saturated Fat and Cardiovascular Disease
What about the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease? Is there one? Many studies have been done on this topic, and the most recent consensus is:
A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD .
How Much Saturated Fat Per day
What should your saturated fat intake be per day? The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 20 grams per day for a diet consisting of 2000 calories. 20 grams per day is 180 calories – hardly anything you need to worry about. I would venture that as long as you are eating under or near your maintenance calories, eating whole foods, and exercising regularly, you would naturally fall into a healthy saturated fat level. Eating saturated fat does not make you fat – eating too many calories does, and it doesn’t matter where they come from.
Foods High in Saturated Fat
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil has many unique qualities. One of them being medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). They are easy to digest and break down quickly for energy.
- Butter – Butter is great for cooking because it can maintain its integrity under high heat. Applying high heat to vegetable oils can make them toxic.
There are many other foods high in saturated fat. I am not going to list them all out, because my goal is not for you to go and seek out highly saturated fatty foods. My goal is to show you that the negative press saturated fat receives is highly overblown. Saturated fat is in just about everything we eat. Some foods have it in higher quantities. Saturated fat is unavoidable if you eat a balanced diet.
Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?
To sum up, no – saturated fat is not bad for you. However, let’s not be one of those people who takes everything to the extreme. Too much of anything is bad for you, and too much saturated fat is no exception. Saturated fat still contains calories (9 calories per gram), so you’ll need to monitor your intake just like any other macronutrient. More than anything, don’t combine saturated fat with processed foods. That is the deadly combo most professionals are talking about. Don’t be afraid of saturated fat. It’s not the killer it’s made out to be.MUST READ: The Definitive Guide for How to Lose Weight
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