So What’s The Deal With Saturated Fat?

Diets high in saturated fat put us at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for many forms of heart disease including stroke, congestive heart failure, and hypertension to name a few. Type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease.

Upon diagnosis of diabetes your physician likely encouraged many lifestyle modifications. These usually include but are not limited to: weight loss, increase in exercise, and dietary changes such as carbohydrate counting and a decrease in intake of saturated fats. Hopefully he or she reviewed what a saturated fat is and what food sources contain it. But just in case you need a quick refresher course, here are some of the top sources of saturated fats and some alternative options.

Red meat

Top chefs refer to marbling in a specific cut of steak to add extra flavor. That marbling, usually a long white line running through the meat, is saturated fat. Saturated fat is often solid at room temperatures. It is found in other meats such as lamb and skin-on poultry. To decrease your intake, opt for boneless skinless chicken breasts or lean ground turkey.


Cheese, cream, and butter all contain saturated fats. Whole or 2% milk is also high in it. Try milks that contain 1%, ½% or skim for better options. Look for cheeses labeled “part skim.” The flavor may taste a little diluted at first but your taste buds will become accustomed and your body will thank you!

Baked goods and fried foods

As a big fan of cookies, I too am sad to know that baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and doughnuts are also high in saturated fats due to the butter and oil content. Fried foods such as chicken strips and French fries are also loaded with saturated fats due to the oil used in the frying process. Try baking them instead for a healthier take on a classic meal.

Why should you make these changes? “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.” 1 The American Heart Association recommends a diet “high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and poultry fish and nuts.” 1

If you have any questions or concerns about your current diet or saturated fat intake, speak with your physician. The more you know, the easier it is to make choices that will lead to better control of your diabetes and optimal health.

Points to remember

  • limit red meat, fatty lamb and skin-on poultry
  • choose a low fat milk such as skim or 1%
  • limit fried foods and baked goods
  • opt for boneless skinless chicken breasts, lean turkey, fish and nuts
  • choose vegetables, fruits and whole grains whenever possible

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