Saturated fats are those whose fatty acids have no double bonds between carbon atoms in their structure; they are saturated with hydrogen atoms. Examples are butyric, lauric, myristic, palmitic, and stearic acid. While sources of fat contain a mixture of fatty acids, both saturated and unsaturated, foods typically high in saturated fat include most animal products, cocoa butter, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.
Saturated fatty acids (SFA) have been portrayed as responsible for coronary heart disease (CHD) in recent decades. Reviews within the past five years have stated that while replacement of SFA intake with unsaturated fats is associated with lower CHD risk, replacing the fat intake with carbohydrates has no effect or may increase risk. Such studies do not specify the source of saturated fat or carbohydrate, which affects recommendations. Others, including a meta-analysis of data from nearly 350,000 subjects, find no association between SFA and CHD risk. Generally the recommendation of substituting polyunsaturated fats for saturated fats stands, though trans fat, a polyunsaturated fat, is associated with many negative effects and there is increasing concern that overconsumption of omega 6 polyunsaturated fats and underconsumption of omega 3 unsaturated fats leads to inflammation.
In addition to controversy and shifting stances on saturated fat from health researchers, it is important to recognize that individual fatty acids have unique health considerations and different fat sources have varying proportions of different fatty acids. Additionally, it is important to consider other aspects of diet and health not simply the fatty acid content; foods high in saturated fat often happen to be highly processed foods also high in sugar, sodium, refined carbohydrates, and overall calories. There is current criticism that official advisory stances on saturated fats do not reflect scientific evidence.
Butter, eggs, lard, meat, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk, cream, cheese, suet, tallow, ghee, meat products, dairy products, frozen desserts, coconut products
American Heart Association
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Advances in Nutrition
Journal of Internal Medicine
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 3