Saturated fat: what it is and why it hurts

Saturated fats are not all harmful and in the right doses they are fundamental for our body.Saturated fats are fatty acids found in many foods that we bring to the table every day, known to be harmful to health. It is important to reduce their consumption to maintain cardiovascular well-being. So let’s see what they are and what are the foods to avoid.

Saturated fat and unsaturated fat: what is the difference

When it comes to nutrition, everyone points their finger at fats, generically describing them as dangerous elements for our health. In reality, this is not really the case. Fats are fundamental compounds because they are used by our body for the production of energy and for the transport and absorption of other fat-soluble nutrients, such as some vitamins. Fats are also a fundamental constituent of our cells and tissues.

However, it is necessary to differentiate saturated fats from unsaturated ones . Doctors suggest avoiding the former first, while unsaturated ones play an important role in a balanced diet.

Saturated fats differ, first of all, from unsaturated ones according to how their molecules are composed. While saturated fats are chemically made up of single bonds, unsaturated fats are made up of a double bond . This allows the molecule to bind to a hydrogen element which does not allow further bonds.

Are saturated fats bad?

It is now an established concept that an excess of saturated fats is bad for health and in particular for the cardiovascular system . Saturated fats are, in fact, difficult to metabolize and tend to accumulate in the blood. They can therefore cause an increase in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”) with the natural consequence of a greater predisposition to cardiovascular diseases , such as heart attack, stroke and angina pectoris.

Where are saturated fats found?

Saturated fats can be both animal and vegetable in nature, and are mainly found in:

  • butter, margarine, lard, lard ;
  • palm oil, coconut oil ;
  • fatty meats (pork belly, sausages);
  • fatty cheeses (provolone, mascarpone, Emmenthal);
  • fried;
  • industrial baked goods (brioches, croissants, snacks, sausages, frankfurters).

Instead, the foods with the lowest saturated fat content are fruits, vegetables, cereals, fish and lean meats, milk and yogurt.

The unsaturated fats , however, are mostly found in plant products such as olives, olive oil and nuts, but also in oily fish, salmon, mackerel, which are not harmful to the body, rather are essential.

What to do to reduce saturated fat in a balanced diet

In a healthy and balanced diet, the amount of total fat should not exceed 30% of the daily requirement, of which saturated fat should not exceed 10% of the calories introduced daily. Where possible, the advice is to reduce as much as possible foods very rich in saturated fats – primarily packaged confectionery products and foods of animal origin – by replacing them with food sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as dried fruit , blue fish and complex carbohydrates , capable of on the contrary, to perform the important function of balancing bad cholesterol, fighting inflammations, triglycerides and reducing blood pressure.

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