Is Saturated Fat Good, Bad, or Neutral?

by Jackie Wicks

There’s Some Psychology Here, Too

Even if saturated fat turns out to be neutral, we have to consider how the average person reacts to this sort of news. Apart from saturated fat, we know that certain foods, like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains do in fact lower risk of heart disease, and we’ve witnessed that diets that are high in meat and low in veggies increase risk.

When you tell someone it doesn’t matter if they eat saturated fat or not, the most common way they’ll interpret this statement is that eating saturated fat will have no effect on their health so they might as well continue eating the way they already do. They’re not going to consider that they could perhaps still gain some benefits if they replace saturated fat with fruits, veggies, legumes, or whole grains because the statement “saturated fat doesn’t matter” doesn’t suggest this.

[quote align=”left” color=”#999999″]If you tell someone saturated fat doesn’t matter, it might be harder to convince them that they will lower their risk by switching out high saturated fat foods for heart-healthy veggies, fruits, and legumes.[/quote]

When most health professionals give the advice to trim down saturated fat, it’s usually phrased as “replace foods high in saturated fat with fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, and lean meats”. In other words, they’re not necessarily arguing that the saturated fat is the difference, they’re arguing for the much more robustly supported addition of risk-cutting foods like vegetables and fruits!

We only have a limited amount of calories we need to eat in a day. Overeating is going to increase risk for not only heart disease, but a number of other diseases as well. With this in mind, you need to choose each day where your calories are coming from, and if you choose to not cut your saturated fat intake, then where do the calories for the more heart-healthy foods come from?

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