Saturated fat is a type of dietray fat where all the fatty acids have single bonds. Most animal fats are saturated while that from plants and fish are generally unsaturated. Saturated fats have a higher melting point and tend to be solids at body temperatures while unsaturated fats tend to be liquid.
Fat is formed from two kinds of smaller molecules: monoglyceride and fatty acids in long chains of carbon atoms. Some carbon atoms are linked by single bonds and others are linked by double bonds. Double bonds can react with hydrogen to form single bonds. They are called saturated, because the second bond is broken and each half of the bond is attached to a hydrogen atom.
Foods containing a high proportion of saturated fat cream, cheese, butter, other whole milk dairy products and fatty meats. Some plant based products such as coconut oil and palm kernel oil also high saturated fat content.
Saturated fatty acids appear in different proportions in different food groups. Lauric acid and myristic acid are commonly found in "tropical" oils such as palm kernel and coconut oil, and in dairy products. The saturated fat in meat, eggs, cacao, and nuts is primarily the triglycerides of palmitic acid and stearic acid.
|As weight percent (%) of total fat|
|Rice bran oil||25||38||37|
|Ice cream, gourmet||62||29||4|
|Ice cream, light||62||29||4|
|Fish, orange roughy||23||15||46|
|Hot dog, beef||42||48||5|
|Hot dog, turkey||28||40||22|
|Burger, fast food||36||44||6|
|Cheeseburger, fast food||43||40||7|
|Breaded chicken sandwich||20||39||32|
|Grilled chicken sandwich||26||42||20|
|Almonds dry roasted||9||65||21|
|Cashews dry roasted||20||59||17|
|Macadamia dry roasted||15||79||2|
|Peanut dry roasted||14||50||31|
|Pecans dry roasted||8||62||25|
|Walnuts dry roasted||9||23||63|
|Sweets and baked goods|
|Candy, chocolate bar||59||33||3|
|Candy, fruit chews||14||44||38|
|Cookie, oatmeal raisin||22||47||27|
|Cookie, chocolate chip||35||42||18|
|Fats added during cooking or at the table|
|Margarine, light tub||19||46||33|
|Dressing, blue cheese||16||54||25|
|Dressing, light Italian||14||24||58|
|Egg yolk fat||36||44||16|
For decades it was thought that saturated fat was less healthy and contributed to disease, particularly cardiovascular disease. Recent research ahs indicated this might not be the case, and that the role of saturated fat in the diet may be much more complicated thatn previouslty thought. Still, most health organization recommend limiting the intake of saturated fat. Recent studies have indicated this might not be true in all cases.
A 2015 review found no association between consumption of saturaed fat and risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or death. ("Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies". Aug 12, 2015. PMC 4532752)
A 2014 review of studies of dietary intake of fatty acids, studies of measured fatty acid levels in the blood, and intervention studies of polyunsaturated fat supplementation concluded the findings "do not support cardiovascular guidelines that promote high consumption of long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 and polyunsaturated fatty acids and suggest reduced consumption of total saturated fatty acids." (Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, Crowe F, Ward HA, Johnson L, Franco OH, Butterworth AS, Forouhi NG, Thompson SG, Khaw KT, Mozaffarian D, Danesh J, Di Angelantonio E (2014). "Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis". PMID 24723079.)
There are consistent and established relationships between dietary saturated, cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease. High triglyceride levels, high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Research ahs established a significant relationship between saturated fat and cholesterol levels.
The World Health Organization recommends restricting total intake of saturated fatty acids to less than 10% of daily calories for the average person and to less than 7% for high-risk groups. The American Heart Association concurs that reduction in saturated fat consumption would positively affect health and reduce the prevalence of heart disease and the British Heart Foundation advises people to cut down on saturated fat.
Recommendations to lower saturated fat have recently been criticized for focusing too narrowly on reducing saturated fats rather than emphasizing increasing ed consumption of healthy fats and unrefined carbohydrates. Concern was expressed over the health risks of replacing saturated fats in the diet with refined carbohydrates, which carry a high risk of obesity and heart disease, particularly at the expense of polyunsaturated fats which may have health benefits. Overall, emphasis should be on overall dietary quality to improve cardiovascular health.