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The American Heart Association and The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommend limiting your saturated fat intake. Saturated fat can contribute to heart disease by increasing your cholesterol levels. If you consume 28 grams of saturated fat per day, you’re eating far more than the recommended daily amount, and you should cut back on your consumption of this unhealthy nutrient.
The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 7 percent of your daily calorie intake from saturated fats. This means that if you normally eat around 2,000 calories per day, no more than 140 calories should come from saturated fat. But calories and fat grams aren’t the same thing. One fat gram supplies 9 calories, so dividing your calorie intake from saturated fats by nine will equal the number of fat grams in your daily diet. This would equal around 16 grams of saturated fat daily if you consume a typical 2,000-calorie diet. Eating 28 grams of saturated per day would far exceed that limit.
The foods highest in saturated fat generally come from animal sources, including fatty meats and full-fat dairy products such as milk, lard, butter, ice cream and cheese. Oils such as palm oil and coconut oil are also high in saturated fats. Baked goods and processed foods can contain large amounts of saturated fat as well. You can eat the foods you love but reduce your saturated fat intake by choosing low-fat versions of dairy products, such as cheese, sour cream and yogurt, and lean meats. Or substitute white-meat poultry or fish for beef; both are lower in saturated fat than beef or dark meat from poultry.
A 3-ounce serving of regular ground beef contains around 7 grams of saturated fat; full-fat cheese contains about 6 grams of saturated fat per 1-ounce serving. Whole milk will up your saturated fat intake by around 5 grams per 1-cup serving, while a tablespoon of butter adds 2.4 grams of saturated fat to your daily intake. Baked goods such as one medium-sized croissant can deliver as much as 6.6 grams of saturated fat, while a 1/2-cup serving of ice cream can deliver 4.5 grams. By comparison, low-fat milk supplies 1.6 grams and low-fat cheese has 1.2 grams.
Saturated fat can harm your health in several ways. Overweight and obesity along with a diet high in saturated fats are all risk factors for Type 2 diabetes as well as for high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of developing atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries that reduces blood flow to the heart. Atherosclerosis leads to an increased risk of both heart attack and stroke.
Article reviewed by Leon Teeboom Last updated on: Nov 4, 2012