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The Skinny on Saturated Fats

Everyone knows that there are good & bad fats. How bad are the “bad fats” and how can they be avoided? Saturated, or “bad,” fats are high in LDL cholesterol. They are simple fat molecules that have no double bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules. They are also typically solid at room temperature. Saturated fats can occur naturally in many foods, with the majority coming from animals such as meat & dairy products. Additionally, many baked goods & fried foods contain high levels of saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for a diet containing 5-6% saturated fats. This means, if you are consuming 2,000 calories per day 120 will be saturated fats, or 13g. It is important to choose unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats and trans fats since unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels. Focus on a nutrient-dense diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts. Always choose lean meats & poultry without skin. Cut back on foods containing saturated fat including, but not limited to:

  • desserts and baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, donuts, pastries, and croissants

  • many cheeses and foods containing cheese, such as pizza

  • sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs

  • ice cream and other dairy desserts

  • fried potatoes (French fries) – if fried in a saturated fat or hydrogenated oil

  • regular ground beef and cuts of meat with visible fat

  • fried chicken and other chicken dishes with the skin

  • whole milk and full-fat dairy foods

Choose foods higher in unsaturated fat and lower in saturated fat as part of your healthy eating style. Here are some tips:

  • Use oil-based dressings and spreads on foods instead of butter, stick margarine, or cream cheese.

  • Drink fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk instead of reduced-fat (2%) or whole milk.

  • Buy lean cuts of meat instead of fatty meats or choose these foods less often.

  • Add low-fat cheese to homemade pizza, pasta, and mixed dishes.

  • In recipes, use low-fat plain yogurt instead of cream or sour cream

By Gina Stallone Resources: Choosemyplate.gov Heart.org

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