Not all, but most saturated fats are bad in the sense that excess intake leads to rising LDL (bad) cholesterol, says Katherine Patton, a preventive cardiology dietitian at Cleveland Clinic in Northeast Ohio. Animal products (such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, and fatty meats) are the main sources of saturated fats. These foods also contain cholesterol, which is why they offer a double whammy to the body. 

Tropical oils are unique in that they are plant-based (as opposed to animal-based) and they don’t contain any cholesterol. Some research has shown that coconut oil, which contains a healthier type of saturated fat known as medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) that is thought to enhance the immune system, can help raise HDL (good) cholesterol, but it also has been found to increase LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Tropical oils in their natural state (not hydrogenated or processed), along with any form of saturated fat, is okay to consume, as long as your total intake is less than 10 percent of your daily total calorie intake, or, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, no more than 20 grams.

If you have high cholesterol or heart disease, says Patton, limit saturated fat intake to seven percent or less of total calories, which is a very small amount (only 15 grams for someone following a 2,000-calorie diet). If you have one of these conditions it is crucial to your health to be aware of the amount of saturated fats in the foods you eat.

Saturated Fats in Common Foods:

* One tablespoon of butter: 7 g

* Four-ounce 80-percent lean/20-percent fat burger: 7.5 g

As you can see, 15 grams can sneak up on you quickly. A good rule of thumb, says Patton, is to choose foods with two grams of saturated fats or less per serving. When you have heart disease, no amount of saturated fats is really safe for you.

Were You aware of how much saturated fats you consume every day?