What if saturated fat is healthy?
There is no concrete evidence that proves saturated fat causes heart disease, despite the popular belief. In fact, there is evidence that disproves this theory.
A review of 28 studies concluded that there was no significant effect of saturated fat on cardiovascular risk.
A Japanese study that followed 58,000 men over a period of 14 years found that there was no correlation between saturated fat intake and the incidence of heart disease. However, the study did find that there was an inverse correlation between saturated fat intake and the incidence of stroke, meaning that those who ate more saturated fat had a lower risk of stroke.
Cultures Around the World that Eat Fat
There is also current data from populations in several areas around the world that confirms this point:
- The Maasai Tribe in Kenya eats a diet of meat, milk and animal blood (66% saturated fat) and has virtually no heart disease.
- The Eskimo tribes in the arctic subsist on whale meat and blubber (a diet of 75% plus saturated fat) and have very low or no rate of heart disease.
- The Tokealu of New Zealand consume a diet of 60% saturated fat from coconuts and fish and again have virtually no heart disease.
Even though the members of the aforementioned tribes seem to be naturally inclined to have healthy hearts, research indicates that when they relocate to countries with Western diets, they develop heart conditions at the same rate as the native population.
Studies about Saturated Fat
- A meta-analysis published last year, which pooled data from 21 studies and included nearly 348,000 adults, found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat.
- In a 1992 editorial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. William Castelli, a former director of the Framingham Heart study, stated: “In Framingham, Mass., the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol. The opposite of what… Keys et al would predict…We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.”
- Another 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a reductionin saturated fat intake must be evaluated in the context of replacement by other macronutrients, such as carbohydrates. When you replace saturated fat with a higher carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrate, you exacerbate insulinresistance and obesity, increase triglycerides and small LDL particles, and reduce beneficial HDL cholesterol. The authors state that dietary efforts to improve your cardiovascular disease risk should primarily emphasize the limitation of refined carbohydrate intake, and weight reduction.
Healthy Fat Surprise: Saturated Fats
Now for some real fun. What are the fatty foods you would like to eat if you were not worried about them causing health problems or weight gain?
When I tell my clients that butter and sour cream are safe and healthful, they are happy and surprised as if a loved one were being returned from the dead.
The person they love may not know how much they are loved. We have been “good” for 30 years. We’ve significantly reduced the amount of so-called “bad” fats that we consume, while increasing our intake of supposedly “safe” vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats. However, the outcomes have been terrible.
The rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes continue to climb and have become epidemic.
If so, great! Here it is: Now that you’re prepared to hear some good news about rich, creamy foods like cream cheese, whole fat yogurt, chicken skin, and coconut milk, here it is: This is going to be difficult for you to believe. Part of it is the term Saturated Fats. Let me give it a new spin.
Let’s call it SAT: short for SATISFYING. Saturated fats are complete in their molecular structure, while omega-6 and omega-3 poly-unsaturated fat molecules are incomplete.
Their density gives SATs their undisputed stability. This is the reason that they do not go bad, something which we have always been aware of.
Could these disreputable fats actually be healthful? Yes! A study that found trans fats in margarine and shortening to be linked to heart disease also found that saturated fats are not as bad as previously thought. There was no connection between the amount of saturated fat someone ate and their risk of dying from heart disease.
The scientific literature is loaded with this exonerating evidence. SATs are the best type of energy source for your heart because they are burned at a steadier and longer pace than carbs.
While some studies show that saturated fats can contribute to health problems, other studies show that they can also protect against stroke.
Creamy fats protect our tissues from rancidity, which is especially beneficial for the omega-3 fats in our brains and arteries.
SATs can help to reduce the negative effects of having too much omega-6 fat in your diet, and can even lower levels of the most damaging omega-6 fat, arachidonic acid. I will discuss the dangers of vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as soybean and corn oil, later.
Four studies have been conducted recently on the effects of a high saturated fat, low carb diet on different groups of people. Three of these studies were conducted on type II diabetics, and the fourth was conducted on mildly obese men and women. All of the participants showed improvement in cholesterol levels, weight, and insulin levels.
But these studies are really just confirming common sense. Most people thrive when they consume a lot of saturated fat. We did, too.
In 1909 the average person consumed approximately 26 pounds of saturated fat and an additional 9 pounds of omega-6 fats from sources such as eggs and meat.
In 1998, we consumed less than 9 pounds of saturated fat and 66 pounds of omega-6 fat. SATs are not our problem. The omega-6’s vegetable oils are the problem.
SATs are safe to cook with, because they are not affected by heat that would make other vegetable oils toxic. SATs are a slow and steady source of energy for your cells.
This makes your blood sugar levels more stable, which means your mood and energy levels will be more stable as well! Plus your craving for carbs drops off. Saturated fat is an ideal energy source for athletes as it is a slow and steady burn that can help relieve stress.
Our obesity epidemic is partly due to SAT deprivation. If we didn’t have the SATs to worry about, we would be able to enjoy our food more and not overindulge on the carbohydrates and vegetable oils that we do allow ourselves.
Refined carbs and commonly used vegetable oils both lead to weight gain and a variety of health problems, which I will discuss in more detail later.
Saturated fat doesn’t just make us more endurance, it also strengthens our immune system. The opposite is true for low fat foods, which weaken our immunity.
Ghee, coconut oil, and palm oil are the traditional cooking fats used all over the world by people who are much healthier and have less degenerative diseases than us!
Saturated fats are necessary for the absorption of vitamins A, D, and E. Nor can calcium!
An example of this would be how spinach contains a high amount of calcium, but it’s not absorbed as well unless it’s eaten with butter (or olive oil which also has some SAT). Same principle with collard greens and bacon fat.
Now, let’s examine my personal favorite SAT. Butter is very nutritious, with 10 vitamins, 10 minerals, 18 amino acids, and 11 kinds of fat.
Carrots are very high in vitamin A, which is necessary for good night vision. Vitamin A plays a role in regulating the female sex hormone progesterone, which can provide benefits in mood, fertility, and other areas.
The letter “A” is also associated with anti-tumor properties, and saturated fats like butter can help the body absorb and use vitamin A in this life-preserving function. However, too many Omega-6 fats can block the beneficial effects of vitamin A.
Then there is butyrate found in butter, which is the fastest burning of all fats. This specific fatty acid plays an important role in your brain function.
GABA can be used as a base for making a natural Valium. It can also protect you from colon cancer, and is used as a medicine in pre-cancerous colon problems.
Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat
There are many reasons to consume saturated fat, such as…
Make the Heart Happy
As it turns out, consuming saturated fat may actually be important for preventing heart disease. As doctors differed over how much saturated fat one could consume without harming the heart, they began to look at what else people who ate a lot of saturated fat were doing that might offer some protection. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, MD explain:
Saturated fat may not be in the news much, but it plays an important role in cardiovascular health.
When you add saturated fats to your diet, it reduces the amount of lipoprotein in your body. Lipoprotein is a substance that is closely related to the risk of heart disease.
There are no current medications to lower lipoprotein, but eating saturated fat may help. Bet you didn’t hear that on the nightly news.
In addition to this, consuming saturated fats also increases the level of HDL, which is known as the good cholesterol. Studies have shown that women who eat a diet high in saturated fat are more likely to lose weight.
To Lose Weight
According to Mark Sisson, Fat doesn’t make you fat. While you can technically overeat enough fat calories to accumulate adipose tissue, thus getting fat, this is a difficult feat, for two primary reasons:
Eating fat is very filling, especially when paired with low-carb eating. Grass-fed pot roast is a lot more filling than some crusty bread spread with butter because it has more yellow fat, connective tissue, and protein.
A decent sized slice of the first option will be enough to satisfy you, but you could easily eat half a loaf of the second option with half a stick of butter and still feel hungry. It’s difficult to overeat on a high-fat, low-carb diet.
Dietary fat is more likely to be used as an energy source when carbohydrates are present in smaller amounts.
The combination of fat and carbs makes it easy to overeat. Studies have shown that low-carb, high-fat diets can help people lose weight while also retaining or increasing their lean mass.
In other words, it is not weight that is being lost, but rather fat. This is what we are after.
For Liver Health
According to the Drs. Eades, “Adding saturated fat to the diet has been shown in medical research to encourage the liver cells to dump their fat content. Removing fat from the liver is the key to stopping the accumulation of fat in the torso.
In addition to this, saturated fat has been shown to protect the liver from the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs, including painkillers like acetaminophen and NSAIDs, and even to reverse the damage once it has been done.
Anything that is good for the liver will help get rid of fat in the middle. Polyunsaturated vegetable fats do not offer this protection.”
The Good News about Cholesterol
Although it may be surprising, cholesterol is a very valuable nutrient when it comes to coping with stress. This is because cholesterol is the substance that our adrenal glands use to produce hormones that help us cope with stress.
Our sex hormones are also made from it. If you have been avoiding it, you may have caused more problems.
Scientists have found that autistic children typically have very low levels of cholesterol. Cholesterol levels have been found to be successful in treating autistic children. Almost a fourth of the brain is made up of cholesterol.