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February 2019

Cut Saturated Fat to Lower Cholesterol

Current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association (AHA) continue to recommend limiting saturated fat.  Diets high in saturated fat increases LDL blood cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease. According to the AHA, cutting saturated fat and replacing it with healthier fat can reduce the incidence of heart disease.

Saturated Fats Matter
Fat adds flavor to food, helps us feel full and is vital to brain function.  However, when it comes to health, not all fats are created equal. 

The dietary guidelines recommend that less than 10% of the calories each day be from saturated fat due to health concerns. The AHA advises only
5-6% saturated fat to reduce LDL-cholesterol.  If you eat 2000 calories daily, saturated fat should be no more than 11-22 grams per day.

Although some saturated fat may be worse than others, the best advise at this time is to limit foods with the highest percentage of total saturated fat.

A Closer Look at Cholesterol

Cholesterol is not all bad. It is needed to form hormones, bile and vitamin D.  It is carried in different forms in the blood.

The two main types are LDL and HDL cholesterol.  LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.  HDL appears to play a protective role. 

Most of the cholesterol is made in the body.  Some comes from food including: meat, poultry, dairy products, shellfish and eggs.  These foods have saturated fat, except for eggs and shellfish.  Since eggs and shellfish are low in saturated fat they can be part of a healthy eating pattern.

More studies are needed regarding the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol.

Cutting the Saturated Fat

Food that has fat usually has a variety of fats. Saturated fat is most dominant in meat, poultry and dairy products. Palm and coconut oils are also saturated fats even though they are plant-based. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature due to its chemical make-up. Baked goods, fried, fast and processed foods are often high in saturated fat.

When reducing saturated fat, it is best to replace it with healthy fats found in fish, avocado and olive oil. Do not eat more refined carbohydrates such as white rice and sugar, as this can increase LDL-cholesterol.   Calories from fat, even healthy fat, add up quickly.  Moderation is key especially if you need to lose weight. 

Nutrition Facts Label


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