Excess weight, especially obesity, diminishes almost every aspect of health, from reproductive and respiratory function to memory and mood. Obesity increases the risk of several debilitating, and deadly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. There are some foods with high saturated fat that need to be checked in order to have a healthy living.
Although your body creates its own fat from excess calories, there are other kinds of fats that we get through our diet.
These Dietary fats include the following:
- Monounsaturated fat
- Polyunsaturated fat
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known to be healthy for our body system in some ways while saturated and trans fats have a different chemical structure and can have negative effects on our body system.
Saturated fats get their name because they are fat molecules that are saturated with hydrogen. This means that they’re solid at room temperature, for example, butter, shortening, or coconut oil. When consumed, they can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood and increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.
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Why You Should Avoid Foods with high Saturated Fat
Saturated fat is associated with raised levels of LDL cholesterol, which can lead to blockages in your heart and other parts of your body. This harmful type of cholesterol also increases your risk for heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends that in a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 120 calories should come from saturated fat. Alternatively, adult men and women should not eat more than 30 grams and 20 grams of saturated fat a day respectively.
Foods With High Saturated Fat are Listed Below:
Red Meat is Among Foods With High Saturated Fat
Beef, lamb, and pork are all high in saturated fat. Even lean cuts of beef contain 4.5 grams of saturated per 100-gram serving.
Baked Goods is Among Foods With High Saturated Fat
Many baked goods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, and brownies are high in saturated fat. For example, one 100 gram brownie serving can contain as much as 10.64 grams of saturated fat.
Full-Fat Dairy Products is Among Foods With High Saturated Fat
Whole milk contains 4.5 grams of saturated fat in a 1-cup serving, whereas the same amount of 1% milk contains only 1.5 grams. Creams are the worst culprits, with 1 cup containing 28 g of saturated fat.
However, studies show that fermented dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, and cheese may have a positive effect on your heart.
Ice Cream is Among Foods With High Saturated Fat
A study done by the Center for Science in the Public Interest looked into America’s top ice cream parlors to determine the calorie and saturated fat content of the sweet treat.
One popular sundae contained 1,270 calories and 38 grams of saturated fat, which is the equivalent of eating a T-bone steak, Caesar salad, and a baked potato with sour cream.
Butter is Among Foods With High Saturated Fat
Butter’s high saturated fat content is one reason why many baked goods aren’t good for you. Just one tablespoon of butter has 7 grams of saturated fat.
Coconut Oil is Among Foods With High Saturated Fat
Although tropical oils have some health benefits, they are also high in saturated fat. In fact, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, beef fat, or lard. It is about 90% saturated fat, with 1 tablespoon containing a whopping 12 grams.
Your body needs fat to survive. However, not all dietary fats are created equal. Replacing foods high in saturated fats and trans fats with healthier alternatives can be a life-saving switch. It can help lower your blood cholesterol levels and improve the types of lipids (fats) in your blood. Here are two healthier dietary fats:
Polyunsaturated fats are a type of healthy fat that includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function. You must obtain them from food, as your body cannot make them.
Main Types of Polyunsaturated Fats
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You can find omega-3s in pine nuts, walnuts, flax and sunflower seeds — but these give a less active form of the fat than fish do.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, boast the most omega-3s, whereas fish with a lower fat content, such as trout and bass, harbor lower levels.
The omega-3 content of 3 ounces (85 grams) of selected fish:
- Salmon: 1.8 grams
- Herring: 1.7 grams
- Sardines: 1.2 grams
- Mackerel: 1 gram
- Trout: 0.8 grams
- Bass: 0.7 grams
- Shrimp: 0.2 grams
Fish don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids on their own. Instead, they accumulate them by eating algae and small, microscopic organisms called plankton.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Plant-based oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids — with the exception of coconut and palm oil, which contain a high percentage of saturated fats and are solid at room temperature.
The oils highest in polyunsaturated fats include:
Safflower oil: 74.6%
Grapeseed oil: 69.9%
Flaxseed oil: 67.9%
Sunflower oil: 65.7%
Poppyseed oil: 62.4%
Soybean oil: 58.9%
These oils are liquid at room temperature because the double bonds allow the fat to bend and fold.
Oil-based condiments like mayonnaise and salad dressings, as well as margarines, are also high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats
Health Benefits of Polyunsaturated Fats
As an essential component of your diet, polyunsaturated fats offer many impressive health benefits. Much of these benefits are associated with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
May Reduce Age-Related Mental Decline
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain development and function. Observational studies link low blood levels of DHA with mental decline in older adults. On the other hand, eating fish — which is high in DHA — may help prevent mental decline and related illnesses.
In a five-year study in over 200 older men, fish consumption was associated with less mental decline. Another study in over 5,000 people noted that higher fish consumption was tied to a 60% lower risk of dementia and a 70% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease over an average of two years.
Dementia is the loss of brain function that impairs a person’s ability to think, remember or reason. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. While several meta-analyses have assessed how omega-3 fish oil supplements affect brain function in healthy older adults and those with Alzheimer’s disease, they have failed to find consistent results. Some research suggests that omega-3s improve memory function in older adults — while other studies show no benefit.
May Improve Infant Development
Mothers who consume 8–12 ounces (227–340 grams) of fatty fish per week during pregnancy and breastfeeding may have healthier children. In one study, the children of mothers who consumed fish more than twice per week performed higher on language and visual motor skills tests than children whose mothers did not regularly consume fish.
Another study noted that the children of mothers who ate 12 ounces (340 grams) of fish per week were less likely to have issues with behavioral, fine motor and communication skills. However, fish oil supplements do not seem to give the same results. Randomized control studies have failed to find consistent benefits for infants whose mothers take omega-3 fish oil supplements.
For example, taking omega-3 supplements during pregnancy appears to provide few or no benefits for preventing preterm births, allergies in early childhood or children’s mental and visual development. It’s recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women consume weekly at least 8 but no more than 12 ounces (227 and 340 grams, respectively) of fish low in mercury, a heavy metal that can impair fetal development.
Pregnant women should limit or avoid fish with the highest mercury levels, including marlin, orange roughy, swordfish, tuna, king mackerel and shark.
May Promote Heart Health
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are renowned for their effects on heart health. Studies in the 1960s and ’70s observed a decreased risk of dying from heart disease in populations that consumed fish.
Later studies linked higher fish consumption and higher blood levels of omega-3s with a lower risk of heart disease and heart-related death. However, randomized control trials have found mixed results with omega-3 fish oil supplements.
For example, in a study in over 12,500 people at risk of heart disease, supplementing with omega-3s for five years did not reduce their risk of either the disease or heart-related death. Similarly, a review of 10 studies in nearly 78,000 people prone to heart disease saw no benefit of omega-3 supplements on risk of heart attack, stroke or any other related trauma. However, fish oil supplements have proved effective at lowering triglycerides, a type of fat which — when elevated — increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Health Risks of Overconsumption and Improper Use of Polyunsaturated Fats
Moderation is key when it comes to nutrition. The same goes for polyunsaturated fats — as consuming too much can pose health risks.
Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids play important roles in inflammation. In general, omega-3s are anti-inflammatory while omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. Though inflammation can help you fight infections and heal injuries, chronic inflammation is at the root of several illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Consuming too many omega-6s in relation to omega-3s is thought to promote inflammation and contribute to poor health . As a result of excess omega-6-rich vegetable oils in the Western diet, experts agree that people get plenty of omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s.
The Western diet’s high omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio is one reason it’s associated with many inflammatory conditions — especially heart disease.
All fats, including polyunsaturated fats, contain 9 calories per gram — more than twice the calories found in carbs or protein. Therefore, the calories from polyunsaturated fats can add up quickly. If you’re not careful, you might exceed your calorie needs.
As such, if you intend to consume more polyunsaturated-rich foods, it’s recommended that you remove other calories elsewhere — rather than simply adding polyunsaturated fats to your diet. For example, if you wanted to replace some of your saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, you could cook and bake with liquid oils instead of butter, lard or shortening, which are high in saturated fats.
Improper Storage and Use in Cooking
Polyunsaturated fats spoil more quickly than other fats because of their multiple double bonds. Therefore, you should store these oils in a cool, dark place before opening, after which you should keep them in the refrigerator.
Polyunsaturated fats also have a lower smoke point, which is the temperature at which an oil starts to smoke. When oil smokes, its fat breaks down and produces harmful substances, some of which have been linked to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases in animal studies.
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