Updated: October 20, 2012 6:02AM
You may have heard that saturated fats are the “solid” fats in your diet. For the most part, this is true. For example, if you open a container of meat stew, you will probably find some fat floating on top. This fat is saturated fat.
Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to chronic disease, specifically, coronary heart disease. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommend consuming less than 10 percent of daily calories as saturated fat.
But other saturated fats can be more difficult to see in your diet. In general, saturated fat can be found in the following foods:
• High-fat cheeses
• High-fat cuts of meat
• Whole-fat milk and cream
• Ice cream and ice cream products
• Palm and coconut oils
It’s important to note that lower-fat versions of these foods usually will contain saturated fats, but typically in smaller quantities than the regular versions.
As you look at this list above, notice two things. First, animal fats are a primary source of saturated fat. Secondly, certain plant oils are another source of saturated fats: palm oils, coconut oils and cocoa butter. You may think you don’t use palm or coconut oils, but they are often added to commercially prepared foods, such as cookies, cakes, doughnuts and pies. Solid vegetable shortening often contains palm oils and some whipped dessert toppings contain coconut oil.
How do I control my
saturated fat intake?
Try these tips:
In a leaner cut of meat, there is less marbling. Most of the fat is on the edges of the meat where you can easily trim it off.
• Choose leaner cuts of meat that do not have a marbled appearance (where the fat appears embedded in the meat). Leaner cuts include round cuts and sirloin cuts. Trim all visible fat off meats before eating.
• Remove the skin from chicken, turkey and other poultry before cooking.
• When reheating soups or stews, skim the solid fats from the top before heating.
• Drink low-fat (1 percent) or fat-free (skim) milk rather than whole or 2 percent milk.
• Buy low-fat or non-fat versions of your favorite cheeses and other milk or dairy products.
• When you want a sweet treat, reach for a low-fat or fat-free version of your favorite ice cream or frozen dessert. These versions usually contain less saturated fat.
• Use low-fat spreads instead of butter. Most margarine spreads contain less saturated fat than butter. Look for a spread that is low in saturated fat and doesn’t contain trans fats.
• Choose baked goods, breads and desserts that are low in saturated fat. You can find this information on the Nutrition Facts label.
• Pay attention at snack time. Some convenience snacks such as sandwich crackers contain saturated fat. Choose instead to have non-fat or low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit.