By now, we know there are both "good" fats and "bad" fats. But what's the difference?

First, the good. Unsaturated fats, which include both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, are found primarily in plant-based sources and can decrease cholesterol levels and inflammation and regulate heart rhythms, according to Harvard School of Public Health. These fats can be found in avocados, nuts, fish, flaxseeds and olive, peanut and canola oil, to name a few. (For examples of foods that can naturally lower your cholesterol, click here.)

And now for the bad. Trans fats, which are created during processing, raise bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower the good (HDL). And saturated fats, which are found mostly in animal products and some plant oils, can raise blood cholesterol levels, and ultimately increase the risk of both heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

Together, decreasing consumption of the bad fats and increasing consumption of the good, can help you to lower overall cholesterol. (It's important these steps happen in tandem -- cutting out saturated fats, for instance, and replacing them with refined carbohydrates certainly won't improve health.) But even unsaturated fats can be bad for your health when not consumed in moderation -- the American Heart Association recommends limiting fat intake to 25 to 35 percent of your daily total calories, with most of that coming from the "good" fat category.

So what to avoid? The American Heart Association reports that saturated fats occur naturally in animal-based foods such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, cream, butter and cheese, as well as certain plant-based foods, such as palm oil and coconut oil.

According to the most recent USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should consume no more than 10 percent of daily calories from saturated fats by replacing them with the unsaturated kind -- that adds up to about 22 grams of saturated fat a day for someone on a 2,000-calories-a-day diet.

Certain foods blow that count right out of the water in a single serving. Cheeseburgers, for instance, have a bad reputation when it comes to saturated fats. And a well deserved one: a quarter pounder with cheese at McDonald's has 12 grams, while a Whopper sandwich with cheese at Burger King has 16 (almost enough for a whole day's worth in a single meal -- before the fries). But burgers aren't the only saturated fat culprit -- to help you make more sound choices, we rounded up just a few offending meals from popular restaurants.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Starbucks' Cheese Danish

    Because baked goods are often made with milk, butter and eggs, <a href="http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/FatsAndOils/Fats101/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp" target="_hplink">many are high in saturated fats</a>. This flaky pastry is no exception -- and the cheese filling certainly doesn't help. It'll cost you <a href="http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/bakery/cheese-danish?foodZone=9999" target="_hplink">16 grams of saturated fat</a>, the same as a Whopper with cheese! <br> <br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/guccibear2005/164380354/" target="_hplink">April J. Gazmen</a></em>

  • Applebee's Bruschetta Chicken Salad

    Scanning the menu of your favorite chain restaurant for a veggie-rich salad is a smart idea, but with too many of the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/26/healthy-salad_n_1167528.html" target="_hplink">wrong toppings</a>, that salad can quickly become a diet disaster. The two kinds of cheese -- <a href="http://www.applebees.com/menu/salads/bruschetta-topped-chicken-salad" target="_hplink">one of which is fried</a> -- in this mix contribute to its <a href="http://www.applebees.com/~/media/docs/Applebees_Nutritional_Info.ashx" target="_hplink">18 grams of saturated fat</a>. <br> <br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/punkjr/354647994/" target="_hplink">Jason Burrows</a></em>

  • Cold Stone Creamery's Cake Batter Ice Cream

    A "Love It" or medium-size scoop of this beloved Cold Stone flavor will cost you <a href="http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/assets/pdf/nutrition/nutrition_info_icecream.pdf" target="_hplink">19 grams of saturated fat</a> -- and that's before adding any mix ins! <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/89247874@N00/2818515767/" target="_hplink">Brian Haley</a></em>

  • Red Lobster's Clam Chowder

    Starting a meal off with the <em>right</em> bowl of soup can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-patricia-fitzgerald/soup-recipes_b_1173275.html" target="_hplink">help you feel full</a> so you won't overdo it during the course of the rest of the meal. But a bowl of the creamy New England Clam Chowder at seafood haunt Red Lobster could be a meal all on its own. A bowl serving contains <a href="http://www.redlobster.com/health/nutrition/dinner.asp" target="_hplink">20 grams of saturated fat</a>, almost enough to last you an entire day. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpellgen/2718341054/" target="_hplink">jpellgen</a></em>

  • Pizza Hut's Meat Lover's Pizza

    There are <a href="http://www.pizzahut.com/nutritionpizza.html" target="_hplink">10 grams of saturated fat</a> in one slice of a large Meat Lover's pizza from Pizza Hut -- but who stops at one? Splurge on that second slice and you'll have eaten your saturated fat for nearly an entire day. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleeker/117917512/" target="_hplink">Matt McGee</a></em>

  • IHOP's Garden Omelette

    Fresh green peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and Cheddar cheese -- this <a href="http://www.ihop.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=228&Itemid=2" target="_hplink">hearty breakfast</a> is full of healthy ingredients, but, at 840 calories, it's simply too big a portion. Asking for egg whites or going light on the cheese can help, as can splitting an order, since the whole thing will set you back <a href="http://www.ihop.com/docs/nutritionalinformation.pdf" target="_hplink">26 grams of saturated fat</a>. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/doc_bosco/2447810352/" target="_hplink">sergeant killjoy</a></em>

  • Friendly's Kickin' Buffalo Chicken Strips

    Chicken fingers and French fries are a comfort meal for kids and adults alike, but the fat content isn't comforting in the slightest. The strips served at Friendly's come <a href="http://www.friendlys.com/menu/lunch-dinner/entrees/" target="_hplink">with cole slaw and fries</a> and your choice of sauce. But it's the Buffalo variety that do the most damage. Five strips will set you back <a href="http://www.friendlys.com/media/pdf/nutrition/NutrInfo-LunchDinner-2012c2.pdf" target="_hplink">26 grams of saturated fat</a>, while five strips with BBQ sauce clock in at 9 grams. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brickphotos/4911011131/" target="_hplink">Brick Photos</a></em>

  • Chili's Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

    Even if you split this creamy appetizer, it's still fattier than a Whopper with cheese. An entire order contains <a href="http://www.chilis.com/EN/LocationSpecificPDF/MenuPDF/001.005.0000/Chilis_Nutrition_Menu_Generic.pdf" target="_hplink">42 grams of saturated fat</a>. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridadine/3881378758/" target="_hplink">dinemag</a></em>

  • Denny's Grand Slamwich

    You wouldn't expect a breakfast dish consisting of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, mayo, cheese and hash browns to be <em>low</em> in fat, but the <a href="http://www.dennys.com/#/menu/menu-1" target="_hplink">Grand Slamwich at Denny's</a> has <a href="http://www.dennys.com/files/nutrition_facts.pdf" target="_hplink">44 grams of saturated fat</a>, more than enough for two days. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wyscan/4563324850/" target="_hplink">Robert Simmons</a></em>

  • Shake Shack's Chocolate Shake

    While you wouldn't expect an ice cream concoction to be particularly low in fat, you might be surprised to know just how much fat you slurp in that shake. The chocolate flavor from Shake Shack contains 46 grams of fat total, <a href="http://www.shakeshack.com/_pdf/menus/Nutrition_Information.pdf" target="_hplink">27 of which are saturated</a>. <br> <br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/2899540485/" target="_hplink">Scott Beale</a></em>

  • Olive Garden's Fettuccine Alfredo

    Another restaurant known for its over-sized portions (unlimited breadsticks, anyone?), Olive Garden has plenty of figure-unfriendly options on the menu, but one of the fattiest offenders is the creamy Fettuccine Alfredo dinner, which will set you back <a href="http://www.olivegarden.com/menu/nutrition/" target="_hplink">47 grams of saturated fat</a> -- more than enough for two entire days. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chapstickaddict/2195148533/" target="_hplink">chapstickaddict</a></em>

  • T.G.I. Friday's Loaded Potato Skins

    Bacon and cheddar cheese will add some significant saturated fat to this starter, but these skins are also <a href="http://www.tgifridays.com/greatfood#appetizers" target="_hplink">served with sour cream</a>, bringing the total saturated fat up to <a href="http://www.tgifridays.com/_images/pdfs/Nutritional.pdf" target="_hplink">58 grams</a>. An order <em>is</em> meant to be shared -- let's just hope it's with at least three other people. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/beleaveme/3717790446/" target="_hplink">Bob B. Brown</a></em>

  • Cheesecake Factory's Shrimp Scampi And Herb Crusted Salmon

    The Cheesecake Factory is known for its gigantic portions, and this dish is no exception, with 1,830 calories. While salmon contains a small amount of saturated fat naturally, it's not nearly enough to account for the <a href="http://www.cheesecakefactorynutrition.com/restaurant-item.php?rid=58&mid=2107" target="_hplink">79 grams</a> here. <br> <br><em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertbanh/3298578120/" target="_hplink">Robert Banh</a></em>

  • Related Video



Clarification: Language has been added to indicate that no more than 22 grams (rather than calories, as was previously implied) of saturated fats each day are recommended as part of a 2,000-calories-a-day diet.