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Saturated Fat: Trans Fat’s Partner in Crime

Filed Under: Health Foods at 9:29 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Bad FatsYou’ve cut out trans fats. It wasn’t too difficult. After all, many manufacturers have stopped using them, and a good number of restaurants have eliminated them as well. So, you’re in the clear. You can eat easy and not worry, because you’ve gotten rid of all of the bad fats . . . or have you? Sadly enough, you haven’t. Trans fats were only half the battle; saturated fats are the other.

Saturated fats are found in tropical oils, fatty meats and high-fat dairy products. Most processed foods have them. Nearly all restaurant selections are packed with them, and your diet is, quite likely, saturated with them. The problem with this is that saturated fats increase your bad cholesterol, decrease your good cholesterol, clog your arteries and put you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Okay, you say. You’ll cut back. I don’t have to go into gory details or diagram the buildup in your blood vessels. You get the picture. You’ll toss saturated fats into the trash along with the trans fats – except for on Friday, which is pizza night, and during the once-a-month burger splurge with your college roommates, and of course, there’s football night – you can’t eat veggies and properly root for your favorite team. You need that fat. But, those are just occasional splurges. How much harm could they do, if the rest of the time you behave?

According to researchers at the University of Sydney, a lot. When 14 healthy participants were given a slice of carrot cake and a milkshake, both loaded with saturated fat, the individuals’ good cholesterol levels immediately decreased. The effects were only temporary, but they occurred, meaning a little splurge hurts.  And over time, all of those little slips are going to add up. You’ll be right back to where you were before you started limiting saturated fats. So, you want to avoid them as much as possible. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to no more than seven percent of your daily calorie intake (that’s about 140 calories, if you’re maintaining a 2,000 calorie diet).  In order to do this, avoid the processed foods, the fatty meats and whole milk. Look instead for nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean proteins and fish. These are full of the fats you need, and you do need some fat. It’s just that you want polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats not trans and certainly not saturated.  So, eat healthy, read the labels and cut back on the unnecessary splurges. Whichever team you’re rooting for will or will not make that next play regardless of whether that’s a carrot or a buffalo wing in your hand.

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