Saturated Fats and Nutrition

Updated:Jul 21,2014

Saturated fats are in the news again, which means there are varying theories floating around about how they affect your health and how much you should or should not eat.

Here’s the quick answer: Saturated fats such as butter, cheese and red meat can be harmful to your health and so you shouldn’t eat very much of them. That’s according to years of scientifically proven information backed by experts with the American Heart Association.

Now here’s the longer answer: Saturated fats aren’t the only consideration when choosing what to eat.. The most important thing is a balanced dietary approach. Have a lot of vegetables, fruit, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Avoid excess saturated fats, added sugars and refined carbohydrates. You can feel great and prevent heart disease, stroke and other health issues by eating healthy, staying active, avoiding cigarettes, and controlling your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

You’ll find reliable dietary help throughout, but information about saturated fats and healthy eating can also be found on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions
About Saturated Fats

There’s a lot of conflicting information about saturated fats. Should I eat them or not?
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats – which are found in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal-based foods. Decades of sound science has proven it can raise your “bad” cholesterol and put you at higher risk for heart disease.

The more important thing to remember is the overall dietary picture. Saturated fats are just one piece of the puzzle. In general, you can’t go wrong eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fewer calories. 

When you hear about the latest “diet of the day” or a new or odd-sounding theory about food, consider the source. The American Heart Association makes dietary recommendations only after carefully considering the latest scientific evidence. 

Read more Frequently Asked Questions About Saturated Fats

What You Need to Know
About Saturated Fats

Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition expert and volunteer with the American Heart Association, helps you cut through the clutter about saturated fats and understand the importance of limiting them as part of an overall healthy approach to eating. 

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More on This Topic

Nancy Brown: ‘Just no doubt’ limiting these fats helps heart
AHA CEO Nancy Brown discusses the importance of limiting saturated fats – and the importance of an overall healthy diet -- in her Huffington Post blog.

Visit the AHA Nutrition Center

You’ll find a wide variety of reference materials and resources to help you eat healthy – and understand why it’s important.

AHA’s healthy eating recommendations
Find out what the American Heart Association recommends for healthy eating, and what you can do to develop an eating plan to stay fit and prevent illness.

The basics on saturated fats
What’s saturated fat? Where’s it come from? How much of it should I eat?

The skinny on fats
Not all fat is bad for you. Find out more about the different kinds of fats and how much you should have as part of a healthy diet.

Good vs. bad cholesterol
Saturated fats are linked to “bad cholesterol.” Find out the differences between the different kinds of cholesterol and what you should know about them.