We ask experts to weigh in on the issue.
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We’re all familiar with the evils of saturated fats: they increase our cholesterol levels, making us more prone to heart disease and stroke. But are all saturated fats equally bad for you?
Yes, some saturated fat is good in moderation.
According to Professor Philippe Legrand, Chariman of the French Guidelines Committee for fatty acid dietary recommendations at the French Food Safety Agency, saturated fats can be beneficial – in controlled amounts.
“A large review of saturated fatty acid functions suggests that they cannot be viewed as a single group anymore. Some have important biochemical functions – for instance, myristic acid, which is found in coconut milk, helps to regulate cell functions,” says Professor Legrand.
“As such, dairy products and coconut milk can still be consumed, but should comprise no more than 8 per cent of your total diet.”
This works out to about 18g of saturated fat for a daily diet of 2,000kcal.
No, saturated fat is bad for health. Avoid it!
Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants, is skeptical of the benefits of eating foods with saturated fat.
“These foods contain both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fatty acids, so any possible nutritional benefits will be negated by higher levels of bad LDL cholesterol. It’s highly doubtful that coconut milk lowers health risks. The foods that accompany it, like vegetables or fish, are better for our health. Saturated fat should comprise less than 10 per cent of our total caloric intake.”
That’s 17g to 21g of saturated fat for a daily diet of 2,000kcal – around five or six tablespoons of coconut milk.
Be cautious of the nutritional benefits of saturated fat, no matter the source, and keep your consumption strictly under 10 per cent of your total diet.