What is the Difference Between Saturated Fats and Unsaturated Fats

October 31, 2012

Diet and Nutrition

Saturated Fats vs Unsaturated Fats

Many of us have heard the term saturated fats, but we may not understand exactly what saturated fats are, or how they work exactly. While we have been told to avoid saturated fats, most of us don’t know why and moreover, whether unsaturated fats should be avoided as well. Here is some information on the differences between saturated fats and unsaturated fats and how you should use them.

The first thing that you should know is that saturated and unsaturated fats are found in quite a few different foods and that they are completely different. In fact, unsaturated fats can actually be good for you, especially good for your heart. Saturated fats on the other hand can raise your cholesterol and cause heart problems.

Where Are These Fats Found?

Saturated Fats are in animal products and in processed foods. Some commonly examples include potato chips, dairy products, meats and pastries. Saturated fats are known to raise your LDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are found in more healthy foods like nuts, olives and avocados. Unsaturated fats are heart healthy and can lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. See the table below for more information.

good fats vs bad fats

How Much Saturated Fats Are Safe to Eat?

Since we know that too much saturated fat can raise your cholesterol and put you at risk for heart problems, the question then becomes how much saturated fat is safe to eat? The exact amount depends upon the calories that you eat, but most experts agree that less than 10% of your calories should come from saturated fats. For instance, on a 2000 calorie per day diet, 200 of your calories should be coming from products that have saturated fat. If you were to figure it out in grams, you can assume 1 gram of fat for each 10 calories, so on a 2000 calorie per day diet, around 20 grams should be your maximum.

What About Unsaturated Fats?

Medical experts do not recommend more than thirty percent of your diet being fat. That includes the ten percent from saturated fats previously discussed, so you can make up the difference with unsaturated fats, above the saturated fats that you eat, to a maximum of thirty percent. That means, for a 2000 calorie per day diet, you should be getting 600 calories or less from fats, and 200 or less or those should be from saturated fats.

The Bottom Line When It Comes to Unsaturated and Saturated Fats

The fact is, it is impossible to avoid having fat in our diet, but most people eat far too much fat, and when they do it is normally the saturated fats cause spikes in cholesterol and heart problems later in life. Try to stick to the recommended amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats and you will be thankful for it later on, as well as being on your way to creating healthy eating habits that will do much more than keep cholesterol in line.

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