Looking to improve your cholesterol levels?
It’s helpful to have an understanding of dietary fat’s role in your blood cholesterol levels and how variables such as diet, weight, exercise and genetics can all impact your cholesterol. Today’s spotlight is on a particular type of fat found in food called saturated fat.
Saturated fats occur naturally in many foods: primarily animal products such as full fat dairy, marbled meats, lamb, pepperoni and sausage, pork or dark poultry (with the skin on), butter, cream, ice cream, and cheese made from whole or 2 percent milk. There are also a few sources of plant-based foods that contain saturated fats, including coconut, coconut oil and cocoa butter, as well as palm oil and palm kernel oil, often found in processed snacks and sweets such as yogurt covered raisins or pretzels. Reading nutrition fact labels can help you gain a better understanding of food sources of saturated fats; for example, if you compare a chicken beast versus a ground beef for your chili meal prep, you would see that the former is a much better option for limiting saturated fat.
For people who need to lower their cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total daily calories. To put this into context, that means someone eating 2,000 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, or 2 ounces of cheddar cheese or 1.75 TBSP of butter daily.
Having an understanding of food sources of saturated fats can help you limit your intake of these and allow you instead to choose healthier unsaturated alternatives, like olive or canola oil, skim milk and nonfat yogurt, nuts and nut butter, fish, olives and avocados. Working with a Registered Dietitian can help increase your knowledge around food sources of saturated fat in your diet and help you make improvements to your cholesterol levels. Reach out today to get scheduled with a Registered Dietitian if you could use some support in this arena!
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– KEELEY MEZZANCELLO, MS, RD, CSCS