Saturated And Unsaturated Fat

September 30, 2020

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olive oil
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Understanding The Basics

Many people have heard about saturated and unsaturated fats in mainstream media. Today, I will be providing a little bit of clarity about the difference between the two, what foods they can be found in, and what they do to our bodies. In the wake of fad-diets, there is a lot of information out there that can be overwhelming and confusing. To have a better understanding of fats and what they in our bodies, check out the information below: 

Saturated Fat is the type of fat that is solid at room temperature. Think of things like butter, palm oil, and coconut oil. Other food sources include beef and poultry with skin. There is a lot of research surrounding saturated fat and its impact on long term heart health. As of now, it is known that increased intake of saturated fats can increase risk factors for heart disease, but there is no direct link between saturated fat and heart disease. The recommended daily intake of saturated fat from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is set at consuming only 10% of daily calories from fat. So as an example, if a person eats 2,000 calories per day, they should not consume more than 200 calories of saturated fat per day. Finally, one gram of all types of fat is equivalent to 9 calories; this means that 200 calories of saturated fat would be approximately 22 grams of saturated fat. 

Unsaturated Fat is liquid at room temperature and is in a variety of other foods. Think of olive oil and avocado oil, nuts, seeds, and fish. Within the category of unsaturated fats, there are two more specific types. These are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Consuming foods with monounsaturated fats can help to lower our risk of heart disease and premature death. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil and avocado oil. Polyunsaturated fats can help our body with muscle movement, blood clotting, heart health, and brain health. Foods rich in polyunsaturated fats are walnuts, flax seeds, salmon, and tuna. While there are many different recommendations for consumption of unsaturated fats from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association, it is best to shift focus from foods with a lot of saturated fat to foods with a lot of unsaturated fats. 

Hopefully, this blog can help provide some guidance to start a conversation about saturated and unsaturated fats with your doctor.  If you are looking for more guidance and to learn more, talk to your doctor or dietitian. Even though there is a lot of new research, one thing is clear: saturated fats and unsaturated fats should never be completely eliminated from our diet. Like all things, health benefits can be found when consuming fats in moderation, and health dangers can be found when consuming more than what is recommended. Ultimately, fats can help us and are not something that should be feared or completely avoided.

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