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Trans Fat vs. Saturated Fat

Published on Dec 23, 2022 and last reviewed on Mar 13, 2023   -  5 min read


Fat is an important part of the diet, but only some kinds are healthy. Read the following article to learn about trans fat and saturated fat.


Fat is an essential component of the diet. Though protein and carbohydrates fuel the body with energy, certain bodily functions rely on the presence of fat. For example, it gives energy and helps the body absorb vitamins. But some types of fat may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Foods and oils contain various fatty acids, but the predominant type of fat determines whether they are healthy. In addition, fat is high in calories, so eating too many calories can lead to weight gain and possibly obesity.

What Are the Types of Fats?

Nutritionists claim that there are four main categories of fat, including

  • Polyunsaturated fats.

  • Monounsaturated fats.

  • Trans fats.

  • Saturated fats.

Of all the types, trans fats and saturated fats are considered “bad fats,” but they differ in major ways.

What Are the Sources of Saturated Fats?

Most saturated fats are animal fats. They are found in

What Is the Recommended Daily Intake of Saturated Fats?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) 2020 to 2025 dietary guidelines suggest that saturated fats should comprise less than ten percent of total daily calorie intake.

What Are the Consequences of Saturated Fat on Health?

  • Saturated fats raise the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly known as “bad” cholesterol. Traditionally, doctors have associated consuming more saturated fat with a higher risk of developing heart disease.

  • Recent research has concluded that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats can reduce the risk of heart disease. Although the risk reduction is low, these differences could make positive health changes.

  • While it is important to limit the intake of saturated fat, what is chosen to replace these calories makes the biggest difference in improving health.

  • Healthy foods such as tahini, salmon, and nuts often contain saturated fat but are far healthier than monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Even though these foods only contain small amounts of saturated fat, their positive effects on health outweigh any potential risks.

What Are the Sources of Trans Fats?

Trans fats are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are more harmful than saturated fats. They are found in the following:

  • Fried foods (french fries, doughnuts, and deep-fried fast foods).

  • Vegetable shortening.

  • Margarine.

  • Baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries, doughnuts, pie crusts, etc.).

  • Processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, etc.).

What Are the Types of Trans Fats?

Trans fats are a kind of unsaturated fat that can be found in two forms:

  • Naturally occurring fats in some animal foods like beef, lamb, veal, mutton, and dairy products, especially full-fat products.

  • Industrially produced fats are the most common trans fats found in processed foods such as deep-fried foods and bakery goods. It is created through a manufacturing process called hydrogenation, which combines hydrogen with vegetable oil to change it into solid fat at room temperature. This process increases the shelf life of products.

What Is the Daily Allowed Intake of Trans Fat?

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Food and Drug Administration (FAO) recommend that trans fat be consumed as low as possible.

What Are the Consequences of Trans Fat on Health?

  • Similar to saturated fat, trans fat can also raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, and suppress HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the body.

  • Trans fats are linked to higher risk of inflammation according to health experts. This inflammation can cause adverse effects on health, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

  • Some margarine will contain trans fats, which are made with hydrogenated ingredients and can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, so always make sure to choose the non-hydrogenated versions.

  • Since the labeling laws for food allow the food companies to round down the minimal quantities of trans fats to zero and claim it as no trans fats, if the amount per serving is more than 0.5 g, it still contains hydrogenated oils.

How Can Bad Cholesterol Consumption Be Reduced and Good Cholesterol Consumption Be Increased?

There are ways to lower the amount of saturated and trans fat in the diet without sacrificing the taste of the food. They are as follows:

  • Change to low-fat milk instead of whole, full-cream, yogurt, and custard milk. Since it also has as much calcium as the full-fat varieties.

  • Use reduced-fat cheese instead of full-fat cheese, and keep the serving size small.

  • Use butter instead of margarine on toast and sandwiches and in cooking.

  • Olive oil can also be used instead of butter on toast since both are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.

  • Consume apple juice or low-fat yogurt instead of cream desserts.

  • Peanut butter and walnut spreads can be used in sandwiches that are sources of omega-3 fats. Nutrient rich vegetables and fruits like red Bell peppers, avocadoes, tomatoes, celery, beans etc., can be added to the sandwich. The polyunsaturated fats in these foods will lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation promoting heart health.

  • Prefer lean meat cuts rather than fatty ones. Choose lean beef, lamb, or pork cutlets, and remove any visible fat on the meat and skin on the chicken before cooking.

  • Avoid deep frying of meat, chicken, or fish, and choose grilled or oven-baked ones.

  • Opt for healthier alternatives such as a delicious fruit platter, fruit loaf with a little margarine, or a homemade cake using polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils or margarine like canola, olive, safflower, sunflower, or peanut oil instead of biscuits, cakes, and pastries.

  • Read the food labels carefully to make healthier choices. Fat is listed as “total fat” and broken down into categories to quantify saturated fats.

  • Follow the recommended daily allowance for fats, based on eating 2,000 calories daily and keeping saturated fats at less than ten percent of total calories.


Healthy fats are an important part of the diet, but it is still crucial to moderate their consumption because all fats are high in calories. Trans fats and saturated fats harm the body and are not likely to be as healthy as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. As a result, it is a good idea to incorporate foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into the diet. This strategy can protect the heart from diseases and improve the quality of life.

Last reviewed at:
13 Mar 2023  -  5 min read




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