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Is Saturated Fat Unhealthy For You?

Last updated April 28, 2016

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Foods containing a high proportion of saturated fat include animal fat products such as cream, cheese, butter, suet, tallow, lard, and fatty meats.


Many people consider saturated fat as a detestable fat to consume. But, what is saturated fat? A saturated fat consists of triglycerides containing no double bonds in its structure. It means that the saturation in "saturated fats" refers to fats that are stacked with hydrogen and carbon atoms. Saturated fats are usually solids at room temperature, such as butter and beef fat.

Foods containing a high proportion of saturated fat include animal fat products such as cream, cheese, butter, suet, tallow, lard, and fatty meats. There are some vegetable products that contain high saturated products, such as coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil and chocolate.

Saturated fats are regarded as “bad fats” because of their effects on the heart. Studies suggest that decreasing the saturated fat intake of an individual can decrease the risk of having a negative heart event by 14%. An example of a negative heart event is a heart attack and heart failures.

There have been studies that suggested otherwise. A large study was performed to determine the link of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart disease. During a 5 to 23 years of follow-up with 347,747 participants during a study, 11,006 developed coronary heart disease or stroke. The intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease.

The saturated fat being unhealthy for you is not conclusively proven. This is an ongoing debate. However, it is currently advised that one should not eat more than 20 grams of saturated fats per day.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1386252 (accessed on 04/02/2016)

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http://www.bmj.com/content/327/7418/777.short (accessed on 04/02/2016)

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002137.pub2/abstract (accessed on 04/02/2016)

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: April 28, 2016
Last updated: April 28, 2016