Are harmful fats putting you at risk?

The type of fat that is particularly damaging to the health of your arteries is saturated fat. It is found mostly in foods derived from animals and is generally solid at room temperature. Here's what you need to know about saturated fats and the risks involved with it.

Are harmful fats putting you at risk?

Where are saturated fats found?

Foods high in saturated fat include: fatty cuts of meat, butter, lard, cheese, whole milk and other dairy products.

You can also find high levels of saturated fats in cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, burgers, sausages, chips and french fries — as well as many prepared microwavable meals and deep-fried foods.

Saturated fats and cholesterol

Most of the "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in our bloodstream comes from the liver as it processes the saturated fats in our diet.

Although people used to worry about eating eggs because they contain dietary cholesterol, it is our saturated fat intake, not how much cholesterol we eat, that is mainly responsible for high blood cholesterol levels.

On average, about 40 percent of the energy we get from fats comes from saturated fats — and that is much too high.

Know your risk level

Some people are more at risk of high cholesterol and high triglycerides than others, so being thin and eating healthily doesn't necessarily protect you. There are few physical clues or symptoms linked to the levels of these fats in your bloodstream, which is why it is important to know if you fall into a high risk category.

If you belong to any of the groups below, you should ask your doctor for a cholesterol and triglyceride test.

  • People over 40.
  • People with established cardiovascular disease — for example, a history of angina, heart attacks, strokes or peripheral vascular disease.
  • People with a close family history — parents or siblings — of heart disease or strokes at a young age.
  • Anyone — even children — with family members who have a hereditary cholesterol disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia.
  • People with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking or obesity.

If you show high levels of harmful fats

If the tests reveal high levels of harmful fats in your blood, your doctor will advise you to cut down on saturated fats and get more exercise. If your cholesterol levels remain high, you may be prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which also reduce harmful inflammation.

Keep all of this information about the harmful effects of saturated fat in mind when visiting your doctor and talk to them about it if you have any concerns.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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