Saturated Fat In Our Health: Good Or Bad?
First things first, what is saturated fat? Saturated fats are one of the three main categories of fats (the other two being unsaturated fats and trans fats), they are mostly found in animal products like dairy and meat, as well as tropical oils like coconut and palm oil.
Saturated fats are often listed as unhealthy fats because they are known to raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. But just like a lot of things, NOT ALL saturated fats are bad for you.
Credits: American Heart Association
For example, stearic acid is the primary saturated fat in cocoa, yet it has no effect on blood cholesterol levels or heart disease risk.
According to Barbara Quinn, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in the United States, saturated fats may even act differently depending on what foods they inhabit.
Recent studies found that although saturated fats make up at least 60% of the fat in dairy food, full fat milk products actually do not seem to increase the risk for heart disease or type 2 diabetes. In fact, many studies have shown that at least 2 daily servings of dairy foods (regardless of fat content) are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
There are even contrasting opinions about including saturated fats in our diet. For instance, American experts believe it is better to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils to reduce risk of heart disease, but health experts in Canada do not place a limit on saturated fat.
As we wait to see how future studies will change the perception of saturated fats, perhaps it is most important to remember that like all diets, the best option is moderate consumption.