Excessive consumption of any type of fat can harm your health and add extra padding on your hips, thighs, butt and stomach. You need a certain amount of fat to supply your body with substances called essential fatty acids, which help maintain several key aspects of your health. The worst types of fat, called saturated and trans fats, can alter your health in particularly dangerous ways.
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Saturated Fat Dangers
Saturated fats are naturally occurring substances found in a variety of foods, including fatty cuts of beef, whole- or reduced-fat dairy products, skin-on poultry and oils derived from various species of palm trees. All saturated fats from animal sources contain a substance called low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, which raises your risks for stroke and heart disease when present in your bloodstream in high amounts. Consumption of saturated fat may also raise your risks for developing the blood glucose disorder called type 2 diabetes, according to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Trans Fat Dangers
Trans fat is a relatively stiff form of man-made fat derived from the chemical alteration of liquid vegetable oil. This alteration adds hydrogen to oil. Alternative names for trans fat are hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated fat. Due to its stiffness, trans fat has a tendency to accumulate over time in the arteries that feed your brain and heart, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In turn, these accumulations can significantly increase your risk for the development of a heart attack or stroke. In addition to raising your LDL levels like saturated fat, trans fat further injures your health by lowering your blood levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol.
Recommended Intake Levels
The American Heart Association recommends that you keep your intake of saturated fat below 7 percent of your overall calorie intake each day. For example, if you consume 2,500 calories a day, you would need to keep your daily saturated fat intake below 175 calories. The American Heart Association also recommends that you keep your consumption of trans fat below 1 percent of your daily calorie intake. Foods that contain this type of fat include stick margarine and commercially prepared baked goods, such as cookies and doughnuts, as well as processed foods and fried foods.
To reduce your levels of saturated fats and trans fats, the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus lists potential strategies that include examining food labels and avoiding or diminishing intake of foods that contain these fats; limiting your intake of animal products; increasing your intake of naturally low-fat vegetables, fruits and grains; and selecting low-fat proteins, such as lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, 1 percent or fat-free dairy products and soy products. Consult your doctor for more information on the health risks associated with high consumption of saturated fats and trans fats.