Bad Fat: Saturated
These fats raise bad cholesterol, so a diet heavy in them may increase your risk of heart disease. Americans get about 11 percent of their daily calories from saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 7 percent.
Margarine (About 18 percent saturated fat, 0 to 30 percent trans fats)Made from: Vegetable oils.
Used in: Recipes for baked goods that call for stick margarine. Also used as an inexpensive substitute for butter.
Pros: Many tub margarines have been reformulated to contain mostly unsaturated fats, so check the label.
Con: Splatters if heated in a pan. Tastes synthetic.
Solid Shortening (20 to 30 percent saturated fat, 8 percent trans fat)Made from: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Used in: Processed foods, some baked goods, piecrusts.
Pros: “If you want a flaky piecrust, there’s nothing better than solid shortening,” says P.J. Hamel, a test-kitchen baker at King Arthur Flour, in Norwich, Vermont.
Con: High in trans fats.
Lard (About 40 percent saturated fat)Made from: Pig fat.
Used in: Fresh or frozen piecrusts and other baked goods; certain cuisines, including American southern, British, Mexican, Norwegian, and Chinese.
Pros: Gives a delicate texture and taste to fried foods and baked goods.
Con: Hard to find in stores.
Palm Oil (50 percent saturated fat)Made from: The fruit of the palm tree.
Used in: Processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, and microwave popcorn.
Pros: Nutty flavor. High in antioxidants. Long shelf life.
Con: Very high in saturated fat.
Butter (About 60 percent saturated fat)Made from: Cream or milk.
Used in: High-quality baked goods and desserts, sauces; also used as a spread.
Pros: Adds outstanding flavor, texture, and shape to foods.
Con: Contains myristic acid, thought to be the most potent LDL-raising fat.
Coconut Oil (About 87 percent saturated fat)Made from: Coconuts.
Used in: Nondairy creamers; Thai, Polynesian, and Indian dishes.
Pros: Resistant to rancidity. Contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that raises good cholesterol.
Con: Has a strong taste.