Saturated vs. unsaturated fat: Why both are part of a healthy diet, according to nutritionists
Unsaturated fats may be healthier than saturated fats, but that doesn’t mean both can’t be a part of a healthy diet. Unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats because they help lower cholesterol and improve heart health, whereas saturated fats can increase cholesterol.
Both saturated and unsaturated fats can be a part of a healthy diet, though it’s important to consume them in moderation.
For a healthier diet, you should try swapping out saturated fats like butter and red meat for unsaturated alternatives like olive oil and salmon.
This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City. Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. It helps our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals, maintains metabolism, and stores energy. But not all dietary fats are created equal.
Here is what you need to know about the differences between saturated and unsaturated fats, their effects on your health, and how much of each you should be eating.
What is saturated fat?
Saturated fats are fat molecules with only a single bond between carbon molecules. They are found in animal products and tropical oils like coconut and palm oils, says Alana Kessler, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant based in New York City.
Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature and include:
Fatty pieces of red meat like lamb or beef
Full-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, butter, cream, and cheese