In terms of chemistry, saturated fats are fat molecules in which all carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms so that no double bonds between carbon atoms exist. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.
There are two types of cholesterol in our bodies: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is the 'good' cholesterol that stabilizes overall blood cholesterol levels; LDL is the 'bad' cholesterol that builds up in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis. Saturated fat consumption increases LDL levels in the blood.
Excess consumption of foods that come from animals are the obvious risk factor: These include beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry skin/fat, eggs, butter, cream, milk, cheeses and other dairy products made from whole milk.
Some plant-sourced oils, such as palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil, also contain mainly saturated fats, but do not contain cholesterol.
Replace foods that are high in saturated fat with healthier options in order to lower blood cholesterol levels and improve lipid profiles (part of cardiac risk assessment to help determine an individual's risk of heart disease.)
Selecting healthier foods includes avoiding high-fat animal products and replacing them with:
Health food stores have delicious cholesterol-free meat, milk, and dairy product alternatives, as well as other excellent healthy options.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting saturated fat consumption to 6% or fewer of calories consumed. For someone consuming 2,200 calories per day, this means no more than 132 calories or saturated fats, which translates to roughly 15 grams or about half an ounce of saturated fat per day. One gram of fat contains 9 calories.
Diets rich in whole, plant foods and low in animal fat consumption appear to provide protection against many serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. These diets also appear to protect to varying degrees against Alzheimer's disease, dementia, Crohn's disease, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, premature aging, erectile dysfunction, prostate enlargement, and reduced male fertility.
A high animal fat diet is dangerous particularly when there is also a lack of fiber and exercise in ones daily routine. Pathologies such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, arthritis, inflammation and kidney failure may then develop. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is a process in which fat-based plaques form on the inside of arteries, which can then become blocked, deprive the heart of oxygen, and cause a portion of the heart to 'die'.
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