Saturated Fat

Processed, highly refined carbohydrates which often replace fat in the diet, may have a greater impact on heart disease than saturated fat. Other experts show the number of lives that are saved by the reduction in saturated fats and believe that cholesterol is an excellent marker of disease risk. Most health experts agree that saturated fatty acids still need to be limited and consumed in the context of calorie balance and a healthy diet according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010.

Saturated fats are found in most animal fats and are usually solid at room temperature. Health authorities believe limiting the intake of saturated fatty acids to less than 10% of calories to prevent coronary heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels is a must. The American Heart Association recently published seven steps for a healthier heart and diet was featured but there wasn’t any mentioning of saturated fats. The list referred to normal cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, weight, regular exercise and smoking.

The type of fat is what is really important to heart disease, not the percentage of fat calories according the the American Heart Association. Restricting fat intake and replacing it with carbohydrates may have serious health consequences such as higher rates for obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines point out that healthier fats were a better substitution for saturated fats than totally eliminating fat intake.

Researchers agree that replacing saturated fats with healthy unsaturated fats are beneficial for health and cardiovascular disease, total fat intake is not as important as type of fats, monounsaturated fats provide a similar but lesser effect on LDL and cholesterol than polyunsaturated, omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial and should be included in the diet at least twice weekly, trans fats are unhealthy and should be kept to a minimum in the diet because they decrease HDL cholesterol and increase total cholesterol, food based dietary guidelines are essential to help consumers make healthier food choices and instead of eating a low-fat diet people should be sending messages to encourage calorie balance and eat more healthful fats from food groups.

Source: Zelman, Kathleen. “The Great Fat Debate: A Closer Look at the Controversy.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association (2011). Print.


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