How to Make Sense of Saturated Fats

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on October 4, 2018 · 0 comments

For years we have been advised to avoid saturated fats because they increase the risk for heart disease. Saturated fats are known for raising LDL cholesterol.  But, as with all health messages, it isn’t that simple – not all saturated fats are created equal. Some saturated fats are worse than others for raising LDL cholesterol.

Lauric, myristic, and palmitic saturated fatty acids, found in coconut oil, palm oil, and butter, clearly raise LDL cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease.

Stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid found in dark chocolate, beef, pork and lard is considered neutral. It has virtually no effect on your LDL cholesterol.

Meat, high-fat cheese, whole milk, cream, butter and ice cream are major sources of saturated fat in animal foods. Palm and coconut oils are saturated fats from plant sources.

The best advice: Use many different types of fats. Cut back on saturated fats and substitute with unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados. Use vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower and canola.

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