Common Foods High in Saturated Fat

Whether you are trying to lose weight, lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol, or simply want to be more heart healthy, minimizing foods high in saturated fats is a good idea. While some high-saturated fat foods may already be on your radar (beef, cheese), others, like ice cream and coffee creamer, may surprise you.

Low-carb diets include a lot of protein.
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Proteins High in Saturated Fats

Many animal products contain high amounts of saturated fats. Among them:

  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Beef fat
  • Breakfast sausages
  • Hot dogs
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Processed meats
  • Some cold cuts

Although following a cholesterol-lowering diet does not ban you from eating animal meat entirely, consuming these products at every meal can add up.

With that, limiting your intake of meat is one easy way to lower your intake of saturated fats. You can also choose "lean" or "extra-lean" meats.

Lean meats contain less than 4.5 grams of saturated and trans fats per 100 grams, while extra-lean meats contain less than 2 grams of saturated fats and trans fats per 100 grams.

Paying attention to trans fats is also important, since they decrease HDL ("good cholesterol") and, like saturated fats, also raise LDL, increasing your risk for heart disease.

Healthy Alternatives

These protein alternatives are better choices if you are looking to reduce your saturated fat intake:

  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Poultry, including chicken and turkey (skin off)
  • Soy products, like tofu

Dairy Products High in Saturated Fats

Dairy products can also introduce additional saturated fat into your diet. Dairy products high in saturated fat include:

  • Cheeses
  • Creams 
  • Ice cream
  • Whole and 2% milk and other dairy products

Because consuming some dairy products can increase your saturated fat intake, it is a good idea to be mindful of the amounts of dairy being added to your favorite foods or beverages (for example, coffee creamer or butter on your toast). High fat dairy sources can add up fairly quickly.

Healthy Alternatives

To minimize the amount of saturated fat you eat, select low-fat varieties of your favorite dairy foods, which are usually labeled “low fat”, “skim,” or “part-skim.”

Fats and Oils High in Saturated Fats

Although various spreads and oils are not something you would consume alone, they are often added to a variety of foods during preparation. Some of these high-fat options, such as cream-based salad dressings and cooking oils, can take otherwise healthy, low-fat dishes and make them anything but.

Fats and oils high in saturated fats include:

  • Butter 
  • Certain plant-based oils (for example, palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil)
  • Cream-based dressings or dips
  • Lard
  • Mayonnaise

Fried foods and baked goods also have high levels of saturated fats and/or trans fats.

Tricky Labeling

While "sugar-free" foods may sound healthy, fats are often used as a substitute for high amounts of sugar. Likewise, and counterintuitively, "low-cholesterol" foods are often high in saturated fats.

In the end, the only way to know how much saturated fat you are consuming is to read the nutrition facts and ingredients on all food labels. Calorie counter websites and smart device nutrition tracker apps can also be helpful in this regard.

Healthy Alternatives

The alternatives you can use will depend on how you plan to use them. For example, some oils are better for cooking than others. That said, healthier options you can consider include:

  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil

Changing the way you prepare meals can help also reduce saturated fat intake. For example, bake your chicken rather than fry it, or steam fish instead of sautéing.

Lastly, using reduced-fat varieties of dressings or dips can also prevent introducing excess saturated fat into your diet.

A Word From Verywell

The American Heart Association recommends that adults who would benefit from lowering LDL cholesterol limit their consumption of saturated fat to 5 percent to 6 percent of total calories, which is equivalent to about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat daily.

When making any dietary change, think of all the delicious meals you can prepare—not necessarily what you have to avoid. In the end, lowering your saturated fat intake may take a little work and restraint, but the boon to your overall health will be worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is saturated fat bad for you?

    Eating a diet high in saturated fat has been shown to raise LDL cholesterol levels. This increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.

  • What is a healthy amount of saturated fat?

    Saturated fat should be limited to no more than 10% of your daily calories, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    Like other types of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat is 9 calories. If you eat an average of 2,000 calories a day, you should limit your saturated fat intake to 22 grams a day or about 200 calories. That is roughly the equivalent of 3 tablespoons of butter or two 8-ounce hamburgers.

  • What are good alternatives to foods that are high in saturated fat?

    Stick with lean or very lean cuts of meat, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and healthier cooking oils, including canola, olive, safflower, and sunflower oils. In addition, most plant-based proteins are naturally low in saturated fat and are a good alternative to meat.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular diseaseAm J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):502-09. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26285. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26285

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Grocery shopping & heart health: how to read the food label.

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Fats: know your fats.

  5. American Heart Association. The skinny on fats.

Additional Reading
  • Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 13th ed