Your body needs healthy fats for energy and other functions. But too much saturated fat can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries (blood vessels). Saturated fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Mar 25, · Numerous studies have shown that saturated fat intake increases heart disease risk factors, including LDL (bad) cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB). LDL transports cholesterol in Author: Jillian Kubala, MS, RD.
What is saturated fat? Saturated fat comprises the majority of animal fat and is usually solid at room temperature. However, the highest levels of saturated fat are from two plant sources: palm kernel oil and coconut oil.
Unsaturated fats are mainly found tye vegetable oils, and are normally liquid at room temperature. More detailed information about types of fats is available here. In addition to this, saturated fat is whay the main fat the human body uses to store energy from excess calories which leads to weight gain. Therefore, any saturated fat in the diet makes weight loss less efficient. However, trans-fats are even more harmful. In addition to the harmful effects of saturated fat, trans-fat interferes with normal fat metabolism and cannot be broken down by the human body, often leading to chronic health concerns.
Saturated fat is not necessary in your diet since the human body can synthesize it on its own. Realistically, it is impossible to get rid of saturated fat completely.
This is equivalent to about 22 g of saturated fat or 2. Reading nutritional information labels can also help you determine how much saturated fat a food contains. Try to replace butter with canola oil or olive oil in home cooking to significantly reduce the saturated fat content of homemade foods. Choose fat-free dairy products whenever possible or limit your portion size. When consuming animal-based foods, try to trim off as much fat as possible, or select lean meats chicken breast instead of chicken drum or meats lower in saturated fat fish instead of beef.
Many baked products and canned foods contain large amounts of coconut oil. These products should be avoided or limited in your diet. Sports and party foods pizza, hot dogs, sausages, etc. Avoid trans-fat as much as possible. In order to do so, when you go shopping, read the ingredient list carefully and avoid products with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These ingredients are fancy names for trans-fats. In the United States, if a product contains less than 0.
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Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. But for right now, let’s just look at what happens to a saturated fat molecule. As soon as the fat enters your body, enzymes start to break it down. This process is called “ lipolysis.”. It is the breaking down of the fat into its building blocks. The enzyme that does this is called “ lipase.”. Saturated fat has long been connected to raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. High LDL cholesterol can clog the arteries over time, which leads to .
Of the three macronutrients—carbohydrates, fat, and protein—none has been alternately diabolized and worshipped quite like fat has. In both scenarios, though, the surprisingly massive and complex role fat plays in our bodies is not really clear.
Fats are one of the three macronutrients nutrients we need in large quantities found in the food we eat, in addition to protein and carbohydrates. These surprisingly complex molecules provide the slowest, most efficient form of energy for our bodies, according to Merck Manuals. You can find dietary fat in virtually all animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, and fish.
Fat also shows up in a bunch of plant foods. Dietary fats are found in very high amounts in nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and coconuts—and, in their purest form, in oils made from plants and plant seeds like olive oil, canola oil, or safflower oil. But other plant foods, like beans and even whole grains, also contain a tiny amount of fat. Plus, the fat content is often reduced or removed during processing—e.
The main kinds of fat found in food are triglycerides, Whitney Linsenmeyer , Ph. Triglycerides are composed of three fatty acids—a chain of hydrocarbons linked to a group of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon—and a small compound called glycerol. The way these chains are bonded and their length help determine exactly what kind of triglyceride or fat it is. There are three main types of fat, and despite being equally delicious, they are actually pretty different from one another.
The second type is unsaturated fat, which is not fully saturated with hydrogen. There are two subtypes: Monounsaturated fat molecules have a single unsaturated carbon bond, while polyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated carbon bond, the AHA explains.
Both kinds are usually liquid at room temperature, and are found in large amounts in fish, avocados, walnuts, and various types of vegetable oils.
While foods are often higher in either unsaturated or saturated fat, all dietary fat contains some of both types of fatty acids, according to the Dietary Guidelines. Trans fats , however, are a whole different ball game. While they do occur naturally in tiny amounts in meat, dairy, and some oils, according to the FDA , most trans fats are artificially produced during an industrial process wherein hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils in order to solidify them, creating partially hydrogenated oils.
The FDA actually banned these artificial trans fats, most commonly found in fried foods and processed baked goods, because of their link to heart disease. Although the ban went into effect in June , foods manufactured before that date can be sold through January 1, Fat has an absurdly long to-do list when it comes to helping our bodies function. But this macro does so much more than energize us. Fat is a basic component of cell membranes in every cell throughout our bodies, making it essential for body growth and development.
It is integral to body processes from blood clotting and nervous system functioning to reproduction and our immune system response, according to the FDA. Many of these benefits can be attributed to those essential fatty acids found in dietary fats. For instance, two of the essential fatty acids that we need for brain development and function can be made using linolenic acid, a fatty acid found in certain vegetable oils and fish oils, Merck Manuals explains.
There are certain crucial vitamins that our bodies can only absorb with the help of fat i. Like we said, pretty crucial. Finally, fats can help regulate your cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats can help lower your LDL cholesterol low-density lipoprotein, also known as 'bad cholesterol' and raise your HDL high-density lipoprotein, the thumbs-up kind , according to the AHA , which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. But consuming trans fats and large amounts of saturated fats, especially in place of unsaturated fats, have been shown to do the opposite: up your LDL and depress your HDL, effects that are linked with a higher risk of developing heart disease, according to the FDA.
All of this is why depriving your body of dietary fat is generally not good for your health. Eating a very low-fat diet puts you at risk of not reaping all of those benefits we just discussed. For instance, eating a very low-fat diet can make it hard for your body to absorb enough of the fat-soluble vitamins, the Mayo Clinic explains, leading to vitamin deficiencies and all the ill effects that come with them. A very low-fat diet can also deny your body of the essential fatty acids it needs.
The very first thing that happens when you eat fat? Your mouth gets happy. Think heavenly garlic-infused olive oil, for instance. There is also research suggesting we may have specialized taste receptors for the taste of fat itself, similarly to how we do for sweetness and saltiness. This requires a good deal of finessing on the part of our digestive system. This is part of the reason why we digest fatty foods more slowly and feel like they stick to our ribs longer.
The whole process kicks off in the stomach, where the enzyme lipase gets mixed in to start breaking things down, Tewksbury explains. As your partially digested food moves along to the small intestine, various organs add different juices and enzymes to the mix, many of which are specialized in breaking down fat into smaller chains of fatty acids. Bile acts like an emulsifier that enables fat to mix into a water-based substance, allowing it to be pulled into the bloodstream, Tewksbury explains.
A bunch of processes can occur here— for example, the synthesis of the fatty acids our brain cells or other organs need. A lot of the time, the liver is converting excess fats into a storable form, according to the Mayo Clinic. Then it has to repackage them with proteins to form special little vehicles called lipoproteins that can carry the fats to where they need to go, Tewksbury explains. On top of that, fats are the only macro that enlists the help of the lymphatic system to get into our cells.
We told you fats were high-maintenance. These lipoproteins are still a little too big to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream, Linsenmeyer says, so they actually enter the lymphatic system first.
This network of vessels, which carries fluids throughout the body, runs pretty much parallel to the circulatory system and has special pathways that helps channel these bulky lipoproteins right into the bloodstream.
Finally , these lipoproteins can chauffer the triglycerides throughout the circulatory system to their most common final destination: adipose fat cells throughout the body, known as adipose fat tissue, where energy is stored. Sometimes, when the body is deprived of carbs, the liver starts breaking fatty acids down into an alternate kind of fuel called ketones—a process that is the basis of the keto diet, as SELF previously reported. A lot of these complex mechanisms are occurring on a cellular level, and require a hefty bit of biochemistry to really flesh out.
SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional. What fat actually is Fats are one of the three macronutrients nutrients we need in large quantities found in the food we eat, in addition to protein and carbohydrates.
Carolyn covers all things health and nutrition at SELF. Her definition of wellness includes lots of yoga, coffee, cats, meditation, self help books, and kitchen experiments with mixed results.