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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Saturated Fat
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fats
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To protect your health you need to eat saturated fat in moderation. This type of fat is found predominantly in animal foods, but it is also present in vegetable oils in varying amounts. A diet that is too high in saturated fat increases your risk of several health conditions and should make up only a small percentage of your daily fat intake.
Your saturated fat intake should make up only 10 percent of your daily fat intake. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this equals 16 to 22 grams of saturated fat per day. Regularly overeating saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease because it increases the amount of cholesterol in your arteries. In addition, foods that contain saturated fats are often high in calories, increasing the chances of weight gain and obesity.
Vegetable oils are typically a better choice than lard, butter or margarine, which contain high amounts of saturated fats. Palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil are vegetable oils with high saturated fat content. However, olive and canola oil also contain small amounts of saturated fat. Coconut oil contains nearly 4 grams of saturated fat per teaspoon, palm oil has just over 2 grams per teaspoon, olive oil has about 1/2 gram per teaspoon, and canola oil contains about 1/3 gram saturated fat per teaspoon.
How to Cut Back
Reducing your intake of saturated fats is a good way to control cholesterol and reduce your risk of health problems. Reading labels is the best way to ensure that you are staying within the daily intake recommendation. Look at the nutrition panel on the vegetable oil, which lists the amount of saturated fat in the product. Record your intake for several days to get a picture of how much you need to cut back and what foods help you do this. Vegetable oils are good choices compared to other cooking fats, but moderation is still important because it is easy to use more than one serving, increasing your total intake more than you might realize. Use a measuring spoon when you cook, to ensure that you are limiting the amounts of vegetable oils you use, particularly when you cook with oils high in saturated fat.
Despite their saturated fat content, some types of vegetable oils are healthy fats because they contain polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fats work to reduce your cholesterol and risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends olive and canola oil over tropical oils 1. However, these choices still contain calories and contribute to weight gain in large portions.
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