Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Randy
Saturated fat, a type of fat that is solid at room temperature, can be found in some plant foods (for example, tropical plant oils like coconut oil), and many animal foods such as dairy products, eggs, and meat. Eggs also contain cholesterol, which worsens the effects of the saturated fat. Cutting down on animal products and eating a plant-based diet may help in reducing saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
Saturated fat is considered harmful to health. Studies have shown that high saturated fat intake may raise the risk of:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Colon cancer
- Coronary artery lesions
- Decreased male fertility
- Hardening of the arteries
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol levels
- Intestinal lining breakdown
- Kidney problems
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Periodontal disease
- Skin aging and wrinkling
Restricting saturated fat intake is a key part of the Swank diet, which has been used to help successfully treat many Multiple Sclerosis cases. Similarly, the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with lower cancer risk, has low amounts of saturated fat. One study found that for men who had their prostates removed for cancer, cutting down on saturated animal fat improved chances of cancer-free survival. In one breast cancer survival study, women who ate the most saturated fat after diagnosis increased the risk of dying by 41%.
Research suggests that swapping 1% of saturated fat calories in our diet for any other macronutrient can add nearly a whole year of aging length onto our telomeres. A low saturated diet, even for children, can help boost arterial function. Workplace programs in which, as one action, participants cut saturated fat intake, have seen positive results, including weight and cholesterol loss, as well as better blood sugar control in diabetics.
The meat, dairy, and egg industries have funded studies and undertaken campaigns designed to give the public the mistaken idea that foods with saturated fat are not harmful. At the Federal government level, though, the potential harm of saturated fat has been noted in the U.S. dietary guidelines starting with the first release in 1977. In 1980, the Guidelines directly stated that saturated fat should be avoided, and in 2010 they recommended reducing intake of saturated fat. In Finland, the use of science-based dietary guidelines for reducing saturated fat intake resulted in an 80% drop in cardiac mortality across the entire country.
Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Saturated Fat
All Videos for Saturated Fat
Highlights from the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Hearing
I was honored to testify before the US government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Check out the video to see my speech and a few of my favorite excerpts.
Does a Ketogenic Diet Help Diabetes or Make It Worse?
Keto diets put to the test for diabetes reversal.
Are Keto Diets Safe?
The effects of ketogenic diets on nutrient sufficiency, gut flora, and heart disease risk.
Is Keto an Effective Cancer-Fighting Diet?
The clinical use of ketogenic diets for epilepsy and cancer: what does the science say?
Sugar Industry Attempts to Manipulate the Science
How the food industry responds to “health food faddists.”
Best Foods for Halitosis & Gingivitis
The best and worst foods for bad breath and gum inflammation.
How to Treat Periodontitis with Diet
Plant-based diets are put to the test in the treatment of periodontal disease.
Is Butter Really Back? What the Science Says
Is butter—and other saturated fats—bad for you or not?
How the Dairy Industry Designs Misleading Studies
How the meat and dairy industries design studies showing their products have neutral or even beneficial effects on cholesterol and inflammation.
Is Cheese Healthy? Compared to What?
Dairy is compared to other foods for cardiovascular (heart attack and stroke) risk.
Is Cheese Really Bad for You?
What about the recent studies that show cheese has neutral or positive health effects?
Pros & Cons of a Macrobiotic Diet
What happens when you put diabetics on a diet composed of largely whole grains, vegetables, and beans?