Saturated fat is found in animal foods, chocolate and tropical oils, such as palm, cottonseed and coconut. It is interesting to note that salmon, eggs, cashews and soybeans also contain saturated fat and are considered healthy foods. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans put saturated fat intake recommendations at less than 10% of total calorie intake. Food surveys have it making up about 11% of most Americans’ diets, with cheese, beef, and milk contributing about one-third of the total saturated fat consumed in the United States. Simply switching to low or no fat versions of these common foods could significantly reduce this intake.
A 2003 meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that diets high in saturated fat negatively affected cholesterol profiles — predictors of a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. However, saturated fat intake recommendations are not zero. Some saturated fat is fine in the diet and it would be unrealistic to eat a diet that contained none. Ultimately, saturated fat intake is symptomatic of a larger problem: excessive food intake comprised of fatty, sugary, processed foods in enormous portions, coupled with a lack of physical activity. Moderate saturated fat intake provided by healthier, lower saturated fat foods and/or appropriate portion sizes coupled with a caloric intake that maintains an ideal weight and exercise should pose no problem to the majority of the population. Additionally, the strategy of replacing most of your saturated fat with healthier monounsaturated fat may reduce heart disease risk and positively affect lipid profiles and health better than simply lowering total fat intake.[6,7]
1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2007. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page
2 Food and Drug Administration. Revised dietary guidelines to help Americans live healthier lives. FDA Consum. 2005;39:18–19.
3 US Department of Health and Human Services, US Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines fo rAmericans, 6th ed. Washington, DC: US Dept of Health and Human Services, US Dept of Agriculture;2005.
4 Helou N, Obeid O, Azar ST, Hwalla N. Variation of postprandial PYY 3-36 response following ingestion of differing macronutrient meals in obese females. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008;52(3):188-95. Epub 2008 Jun 11.
5 Glew RH, Williams M, Conn CA, et al (2001). "Cardiovascular disease risk factors and diet of Fulani pastoralists of northern Nigeria". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 74 (6): 730–6.
6 Risk of myocardial infarction and intake and adipose tissue composition of fatty acids, Nutrition Research Newsletter, March 2007
7 Lopes C, Aro A, Azevedo A, et al. Intake and Adipose Tissue Composition of Fatty Acids and Risk of Myocardial Infarction in a Male Portuguese Community Sample. JADA;107:276-286 (February 2007).