Welcome to Badges: Saturated Fat

A good amount of evidence suggests that diets high in saturated fat are linked to higher risk for obesity and heart problems, along with diabetes.
Welcome to Badges: Saturated Fat
Lark Team

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Daily limit for a green badge: 10% of total calories (22 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet), or 7% of total calories (16 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet) for Lark DPP, Diabetes, and Hypertension

Meal limit for a green badge: 7 grams for Lark Wellness and 5 grams for Lark DPP, Diabetes, and Hypertension

Why Lark suggests limiting saturated fat

A good amount of evidence suggests that diets high in saturated fat are linked to higher risk for obesity and heart problems, along with diabetes and cancers. This is especially true when these diets are low in unsaturated fat compared to the amount of saturated fat.

Despite the “dangers” of saturated fat, when thinking about limiting it, it is important to replace those calories with healthier, not less-healthy, options. It appears that replacing it with healthier fats has health benefits, while replacing those calories with calories from refined carbohydrates can be just as harmful for health.

It is also possible that the risks of a diet high in saturated fat come not only from the fat itself, but from the other components of the diet. For example, weight gain may result from the fact that saturated fats are often in high-calorie foods, such as fatty meats such as sausage, ribs, and bacon, buttery baked goods such as cookies and croissants, and fast foods, such as burgers and pizza. Similarly, sugar, salt, and refined grains in these types of foods may contribute to increased risks for heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, your lark coach is here to help!

Further complicating matters is that tropical oils, such as palm and coconut, are highly saturated, and it seems as though palm oil is generally unhealthy, while coconut oil has less clear health effects. The fat in chocolate is highly saturated, but seems to not be unhealthy when eaten in moderation.

Sources of saturated fat

Most saturated fat in the typical American diet comes from animal-source foods, or meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, and butter, while tropical oils and chocolate are other sources. Always be sure to input your food logs into your lark app!

These are some sources of saturated fats.

  • Fatty meat, such as ribs, full-fat ground beef, fatty steaks
  • Processed fatty meat, such as pepperoni, sausage, bacon, salami, bologna
  • Butter and lard
  • Chicken and turkey with skin
  • Cheese, whole milk, cream
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Chocolate

Top sources of saturated fat in the American diet

  • Burgers and sandwiches
  • Snacks and sweets, such as cookies, pies, pastries
  • Protein foods, such as beef, chicken, eggs, pork
  • Dairy products, such as cheese and milk
  • Condiments, gravies, spreads, salad dressings
  • Prepared vegetable dishes
  • Pizza
  • Rice, pasta, grain dishes, such as macaroni and cheese, fettuccini alfredo, and cheesy rice casserole
  • Grains, such as croissants, biscuits

Source: US Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020

Tips for limiting saturated fat

  • “Choice” and “Select” beef are usually lower in fat than “Prime” cuts.
  • “Extra-lean” and “lean” meat and ground beef, turkey, or chicken that is at least 90% lean are lower in saturated fat.
  • Removing poultry skin before cooking it eliminates the majority of saturated fat.
  • Using marinades increases tenderness in leaner cuts of beef.
  • Draining fat after or while cooking (such as while using a rack) cuts down on fat.
  • Vegetable oil makes a good substitute for butter in most baking and cooking recipes.
  • Hummus and pureed avocado spread well instead of butter on bread and are low in saturated fat.
  • Olive oil and vinegar, plus spices, herbs, and/or mustard, makes a heart-healthy vinaigrette as a substitute for creamy salad dressings.
  • Egg whites are fat-free, while the yolks contain all the saturated fat.
  • Most pizza places let you order light or no cheese, and some offer parmesan as a topping, which offers flavor but is usually in small quantities.

When you earn badges, you will see them appear in your lark chat.

Ideas for lower-saturated fat meals and snacks

  • Instead of creamy beef pot pie with top and bottom pie crusts: chicken pot pie made with butternut squash instead of cream, extra vegetables such as peas and broccoli, no bottom crust, and whole-grain biscuits on the top.
  • Sandwich with chicken or fish instead of processed meat
  • Instead of a beef burger with bacon and cheese: extra lean ground turkey or veggie burger on a whole-grain bun spread with mustard, with lettuce, tomatoes, and a pineapple slice
  • Instead of crispy chicken wings with creamy onion or ranch dip: strips of skinless chicken breast coated with egg white and crushed FIber One and baked, dipped into dip made with low-fat cottage cheese and fat-free cream cheese, plus herbs and spices.
  • Instead of a breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese, and sausage or bacon on croissant or biscuit: breakfast sandwich with egg whites, low-fat cheese, and a vegetarian breakfast sausage on a whole-grain English muffin
  • Instead of creamed spinach: spinach with fat-free cottage cheese or cream cheese, nutmeg, black pepper, milk, and diced onion.