One of the healthiest diets you can follow is a plant-based one. Not only do they pack a nutritional punch, but they’re also low-calorie and keto-friendly. There are plenty of vegan and keto-friendly foods to choose from, but what about saturated fats? Are they worth avoiding?
Do Saturated Fats are an Underconsumed Nutrient?
The answer is critically Yes.
The truth is, the science of saturated fats is complicated. On the one hand, research has found that a diet high in saturated fats may lead to increased cholesterol levels and the development of atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries that can lead to heart disease. On the other hand, research has found that a diet low in saturated fats may lead to decreased cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of atherosclerosis.
Saturated fats are a form of dietary fat found in animal products such as meat, butter, milk, and cheese. Foods high in saturated fats include eggs, red meat, bacon, beef, dairy products, and butter. Saturated fats are known to be high in cholesterol, but it is thought that this doesn’t pose a risk to our health as the body seems able to process excess cholesterol efficiently.
However, saturated fats are found to increase levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, while decreasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. This imbalance in the ratio of these two types of cholesterol may lead to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, which can cause coronary heart disease. For this reason, dietary advice to reduce saturated fats has become common. Although we don’t know exactly how saturated fats affect cholesterol levels, most of the evidence suggests that eating more foods with lower levels of saturated fats will be beneficial.
A 2013 review by the Cochrane Collaboration showed that cutting down on total fat intake was associated with reductions in LDL cholesterol, but not HDL cholesterol. It also reported that reducing saturated fat intake did not significantly affect either type of cholesterol. Other research has shown similar results.
The NHS says that there is no evidence suggesting that saturated fat has adverse effects on health but recommends that people eat a healthy balanced diet.
In addition to being important for heart health, they are a key component of body cell membranes, and deficiencies can lead to anemia, mental and neurological problems, and osteoporosis. The dietary guidelines in the U.S. recommend that we consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat a day. But is this amount really enough?
In conclusion, it is evident that saturated fats are an under-consumed nutrient. This is likely due to the many myths that surround this type of fat. However, consuming saturated fats has many health benefits.
Some of these benefits include weight loss, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of heart disease. Therefore, it is important to incorporate saturated fats into your diet. You can do this by eating foods that are high in saturated fat, such as meat, dairy products, and tropical oils.