Saturated Fats: The Artery Cloggers

Saturated fats are the bad fats - the kinds that raise blood cholesterol and cause heart attacks. High cholesterol levels in your blood can clog your heart and arteries over time. Clogged arteries can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Though people usually don't get heart attacks until they're in their 50s, 60s or 70s, heart disease begins to develop during childhood. One in four kids ages 5 to 10 years old already have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or some other early warning sign for heart disease. The beginnings of clogged arteries are found in kids as young as ten years old. As you get older, your arteries can become more clogged and affect the flow of blood to your heart (causing a heart attack) or brain (causing a stroke).

Small changes in your diet can help you to eat less saturated fat and keep your heart healthy:
  1. Switch from whole or 2% milk to 1% or fat-free (skim) milk. Blind taste tests have shown that 9 out of 10 people like the taste of either 1% or fat-free milk.

  2. Eat no more than two ounces of full-fat cheese per week. Order your pizza with half the usual amount of cheese and your sandwich or burger without cheese. Use reduced-fat cheeses at home.

  3. Switch from hamburgers to turkey burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, or veggie burgers. Ordering a grilled chicken sandwich (without mayo) instead of a Whopper or a Big Mac will save more than one third of a day's saturated fat.

  4. Switch from stick margarine or butter to a reduced-fat tub margarine. Margarine and butter are major contributors of saturated fat and margarine is the biggest source of cholesterol-raising trans fat in Americans' diets.

  5. Switch from processed meats like ham, bacon, hot dogs, sausages, bologna, and other luncheon meats to reduced-fat or fat-free versions. Most supermarkets carry low-fat or fat-free bologna, hot dogs, ham, sausage, and turkey bacon.

  6. Choose low-fat desserts and baked goods like sorbet, fruit, low-fat ice cream, and low-fat cakes and cookies. Low-fat versions often are still high in calories and sugar, but they will do less damage to your heart.

  7. Use food labels to help you identify which foods are high in saturated fat. Limit foods with more than 20% of the DV (Daily Value, or a day's worth) for saturated fat (that's 4 grams of sat fat per serving). Try to eat less than 20 g of saturated fat each day.

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