OK, so we know that saturated fat isn't good for us. These fats are NOT essential to our bodies whatsoever, but boy are they tasty. Butter, ice cream, hot dogs, bacon - all dairy and meat products contain saturated fat.

Why are they bad for us? Saturated fats are known to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels over time. This leads to plaque build-up in your arteries, making it difficult for blood to pass to and from your heart, which puts you at risk for a heart attack. Now new research shows that food loaded with saturated fat may have immediate effects on your heart.

A study conducted in Australia took 14 healthy adults (ages 18-40) and gave them 2 meals consisting of a piece of high-fat carrot cake and a milkshake. The first meal was made with 90% saturated fat and contained 68 grams of fat! That's equivalent to a double cheeseburger, a large order of French fries, and drinking a large milkshake (yikes!) The second meal was made with polyunsaturated oil, and only contained just 9% fat.

The researchers took blood samples of the participants before and after the meals to see what happened to their HDL (good) levels of cholesterol. They discovered that the levels of good cholesterol decreased after the first fat-filled meal, and increased after the second healthier version.

The effects may be temporary, but they are still a cause for concern since this happens every time a person eats a meal high in saturated fat.

Fit's Tips: Here's the deal. It's important to limit your saturated fat intake as much as possible. Aim for 10% or less each day. That means if you eat 2,000 calories a day, eat no more than 20g of saturated fat. Cut back on meat and full-fat dairy products. Also check labels to see if there is hidden saturated fat (they tend to lurk in processed foods and snacks). You can also go for meat alternatives like Gardenburgers and Tofu Pups. I also love dairy free foods such as Wildwood Soyogurt and Tofutti Cuties (dairy-free ice cream sandwiches). They taste great and are so much better for your heart.