Heart disease is the number one killer in the US. And increased saturated fats are associated with heart disease. Therefore the recommendation is to keep saturated fats under 10% of your total calories. If you’re eating 2000 calories, that’s 200 calories of saturated fat (2000/10 = 200).
Since each gram of fat contains nine calories, you’re looking to keep your saturated fat intake under 22g (200/9) if you’re eating around 2000 calories. That’s 16g if you’re at 1500 calories a day. When you start reading labels you realize that that amount can add up very quickly.
No Big Deal Ideas to Cut Back on Saturated Fats
- Choose just favorite fried food (at a time). Not ready to give up fried foods completely? Then decide on your favorite. If you really must have fried chicken, skip the fries. Want fried seafood? Then order the baked potato. Personally, I love fries. So when dining out I order the small – and balance it out with a veggie burger. Eating healthy isn’t about deprivation.
- Choose lower fat proteins. Eat more legumes, skinless chicken, fish, seafood, and lean beef (such as sirloin)….and smaller portions of fatty meats such as prime rib, bacon, sausage, and ground beef. If these leaner cuts are too dry for you, consider using different cooking and prep methods such as using marinades, cooking in the slow cooker, or roasting over low temperatures. Also, search for recipes for simple “pan sauces” made of jams and vinegar.
- Be picky about cheese. Most people seem to think of cheese as healthy. I’ve heard people boast about how they have cut out meats and have become vegetarian by eating more cheese. Healthwise, that may not be a good option. Most cheeses have way more fat and saturated fat than many other protein sources. In fact, it has as much fat and calories (ounce for ounce) as fried chicken! No kidding. Use cheese as a condiment, not an entree. Low fat cheeses include low fat cottage cheese, low fat ricotta cheese, and low fat hard cheese. In my opinion, Cabot Creamery low fat cheeses are the best tasting.
- Cut back on the solid fats. I know coconut oil is called an oil, but it’s solid. That’s because it’s extremely high in saturated fat; one tablespoon has 12g saturated fat (compare that amount to the recommendations above). Palm and palm kernel “oil” are also high. Instead switch to olive and canola oil. Canola oil has the lowest saturated fat and it has a high smoke point, making it a good choice for high heat cooking.
- Stop buying “vegetable” oil – even if the recipe calls for it. Hey, all bottled oils are made from vegetables (soy, peanut, olive). If you look at the list of ingredients you’ll find out that your vegetable oil is probably from soy, an oil with a high polyunsaturated fat content. Olive and canola oils are high in healthier monounsaturated fats – just substitute them for any recipe calling for vegetable oil.
- Switch from butter to a vegetable oil spread. I already hear you screaming at me for this one. I often hear, “But butter is natural, margarine is not.” First, realize that one tablespoon of butter contains 8g of saturated fat. Using butter isn’t a big deal at all if you’re vegan and are getting little saturated fat elsewhere. BUT, if you’re like most butter-lovers, adding butter to your toast, your veggies and baked potatoes, etc…at the end of the day you could easily exceed the recommendation above, without even considering the saturated fat that’s in everything else we eat (like meat and chocolate). Margarines of earlier years were full of transfats. The new tub spreads are typically made of just a few different vegetable oils blended together.
- Choose your snacks wisely. Most processed snack foods are high in saturated fat (especially movie theater popcorn). By making some of the snack recommendations previously mentioned (popcorn, yogurt, fresh fruit), you’ll cut your saturated fat intake greatly.