Saturated and Trans Fats

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Other health concerns that can weasel their way into the ‘college diet’, are saturated and trans fatty acids. As well as contributing sodium, processed and T.V. dinners can also contain these unhealthy fats because most of them go through the process of hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is when companies add hydrogen to healthier unsaturated fatty acids to make them more solid resisting the changes caused by oxidation (spoiling). Therefore, hydrogenation is how we get our saturated and trans fats.

Saturated Fats:

Top Contributors of saturated fats (percentage equals the total saturated fat intake to a U.S. Diet):

1. Cheese – 13%

The molecular make-up of the saturated fat shown at the top of this figure is straight and will easily stack together with other saturated molecules. The unsaturated fatty acids have a double carbon bond that is easily targed for breakdown by the body.2. Beef- 12%

2. Beef- 12%

3. Milk- 8%

4. Oils -5%

5. Ice cream/sherbet- 5%

6. Cakes/Cookies/Doughnuts- 5%

7. Butter- 5%

8. Other Fats ( Shortening and Animal Fats)-4%

9. Salad dressings Mayonnaise-4%

10. Poultry-4%

Trans Fats:

Top Contributors of Trans Fat ( I don’t have percentages for these food items because it is low, but a low percentage of trans fat can still raise lipoprotien  blood levels).

1. Fast Foods


3. Cookies

4. Crackers

5. Cake Products and Frosting

6. Breads

7. Stick Margarine

8. Commercially Fried Chicken

9. Commercially Fried Fish Products

10. Other Commercially Prepared Foods.

Trans Fatty Acids raise  the levels of lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the blood and has the ability to lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ( good cholesterol).

Daily Recommended Intake:

The Daily Recommended Intake for these fats are to eat the minimum amount while while still eating a nutrient rich diet. The American Heart Association says to “limit saturated fat to less than 7% of total calories consumed.” From the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it says to “keep trans fat intake as low as possible”. This answer is extremely vague. Keep trans fat as low as possible? How do we know when we’ve had too much? What’s a safe amount? Well, from my basic nutrition class at BYU, we decided that a diet with less than or equal to 2-3 grams of trans fat for an adult active male was best so there is some kind of number to reference off of.

As a replacement for trans and saturated fats, we can use monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. These fatty acids have a different molecular make-up that is broken down by enzymes in the body. From the book Trans Fatty Acids and Heart Disease it states that, “based on the effects of TFAs on lipid levels, it has been estimated that replacing all of the TFAs from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in the U.S. diet with cis-unsaturated fatty acids could lead to as much as a 3 to 6 percent reduction in heart disease risk”.

The best diet to help increase your heart health includes an adequate supply of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains that supply abundant nutrients including fiber  as well as antioxidants.

Misconceptions or Questions:

All fats are bad for the body.

Because there has been a large concern with the health risks associated with saturated and trans fats, most people believe that any kind of fat is bad for them altogether. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are actually good for the body. Fats help the feeling of satiety (fullness) after a meal by slowing down the process of digestion so we don’t need to constantly be eating all the time to subdue hunger.

When purchasing ground beef, which packaging has the least fat?

I have found that ground round beef is the best option with a 3oz. package containing about 1.5 tsp. of fat and 4 g. of saturated fat.

  • Ground Round

– 10% fat, 180 calories/ 3 oz., 1.5 tsp fat, 4 g. saturated fat

  • Commercial ground Turkey

-13% fat, 200 calories/3 ox., 2.25 tsp fat, 3g. saturated fat

  • Ground Chuck

-16% fat, 220 calories/3 oz., 3 tsp fat, 6 g. saturated fat

  • Regular Ground Beef

-23% fat, 260 calories/4.5 tsp fat, 8 g. saturated fat

Long-Term Health Effects:

  • High Blood pressure
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Diabetes

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