The Truth About Saturated Fats
8 Rules to Eat By
So saturated fat is not the evil you thought. But what does that mean for your diet? These eight must-dos cut through the confusion.
1. Load up on whole foods.
If you eat mostly heart-healthy, nutrient-rich produce, whole grains, nuts, beans, and fish, then saturated fat shouldn't be a problem.
2. Don't overdo it.
Saturated fat may not be a culprit, but it doesn't offer the same health benefits as unsaturated fat. So don't start cooking with butter or eating more meat. Fish, beans, and lentils are still healthier protein sources than red meat.
3. Choose low-fat dairy.
Low-fat milk and yogurt are good choices because they have fewer calories and just as much calcium and vitamin D as full-fat versions.
4. Beware of health halos.
Local organic cream from the farmers' market is still cream, and it packs loads of calories. Foods like ice cream and bacon should be considered splurges. And a product labeled "No saturated fat" may be full of sodium, sugar, and refined flour.
5. Don't go loco for coconut.
Choose liquid vegetable oils, such as canola and olive, that are a mix of MUFAs and PUFAs. Though some people are switching to coconut oil, there's no evidence that it's as beneficial as these oils are.
6. Steer clear of trans fats.
They're very bad for you, and they mostly appear in processed foods. Avoid anything that has "partially hydrogenated oils," a code name for trans fats, in the ingredients list.
7. Consider your carbs.
Get most of your carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, not from sugary and refined starches, like crackers and desserts.
8. Treat yourself to dark chocolate.
Indulge in a small piece -- about one ounce -- every day. The saturated fat in it won't harm your health, and the chocolate packs flavonoids that act as antioxidants, protecting cells from damage.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2012.
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