For ages, saturated fat was considered a one-way ticket to heart disease. More recently, the tables have turned, and many people claim saturated fat isn’t that bad. Experts say nothing is black and white, and saturated fat’s health effects can’t be labeled “good” or “bad.”
Read on to learn more about saturated fat and its effects.
What Is Saturated Fat?
We’ve all heard about it, but do we know what saturated fat is?
There are three types of fats: unsaturated, saturated, and trans. All of the fats consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules. Unsaturated fats contain one or more double or triple bonds between carbons. They also lack some hydrogen atoms. These fats are liquid at room temperature.
On the other hand, saturated fats are loaded with hydrogen atoms, and all fatty acid chains have single bonds. These tightly-packed fats are solid at room temperature. The most common examples of saturated fat are butter, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil. This type of fat is also found in beef, pork, chicken, pastries, ice cream, etc.
The Good and the Bad
Fat belongs to the powerful three macronutrients, along with protein and carbs. Regardless of whether it’s saturated or unsaturated, fat has several vital roles. First of all, it gives our body energy and supports cell growth. Plus, it helps us absorb nutrients and regulates hormones.
Let’s now look at the other side of the coin. Saturated fat may cause inflammation and increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.
At this time, there isn’t enough research that concludes how saturated fat can affect our health.
Moderation Is Key
As you can see, saturated fat is neither the hero nor the villain. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a heart-healthy diet “allows” up to 5-6% of saturated fat. Instead of obsessing over saturated fat, try adopting healthy dietary patterns and eating healthy, whole foods whenever you can.