The two doctors
note that no matter how the story spins from the denizens of the
anti-fat camp, one piece of their advice remains staunchly constant:
“You should sharply limit your intake of saturated fats.”
But will saturated fats really increase your risk of heart disease
and raise your cholesterol? In a word, no. In fact, humans need
them, and here are just a few reasons why:
cardiovascular risk factors
fat plays a key role in cardiovascular health. The addition of saturated
fat to the diet reduces the levels of a substance called lipoprotein(a)
that correlates strongly with risk for heart disease. Research has
shown that when women diet, those eating the greatest percentage
of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat, lose the most
fat is required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into
bone. According to one of the foremost research experts in dietary
fats and human health, Dr. Mary Enig, Ph.D., there’s a case
to be made for having as much as 50 percent of the fats in your
diet as saturated fats for this reason.
fat has been shown to protect the liver from alcohol and medications,
including acetaminophen and other drugs commonly used for pain and
function, the airspaces of the lungs have to be coated with a thin
layer of lung surfactant. The fat content of lung surfactant is
100 percent saturated fatty acids. Replacement of these critical
fats by other types of fat makes faulty surfactant and potentially
causes breathing difficulties.
is mainly made of fat and cholesterol. The lion’s share of
the fatty acids in the brain are actually saturated. A diet that
skimps on healthy saturated fats robs your brain of the raw materials
it needs to function optimally.
fats, particularly those found in butter, lard, coconut oil, and
palm oil, function directly as signaling messengers that influence
metabolism, including such critical jobs as the appropriate release
fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid)
play key roles in immune health. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty
acids in white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and
destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Hour Work Week
September 6, 2009
fallacy that persists to this day is the belief that saturated fat
will increase your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. This
is simply another myth that has been harming your health for the
last 30 or 40 years.
is, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated
source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks
for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances.
When you eat
saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so
that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they
act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin
A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.
- The preferred
fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during
antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti-fungal agent (lauric acid)
to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
of genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid)
If the fact
that saturated fats are actually good for you sounds conflicting,
at least in terms of what is repeated by public health agencies,
I urge you to read Mary Enig and Sally Fallon’s classic article
Truth About Saturated Fats.
It is one
of the best and most thorough introductions to this topic, and you
can read through it in just a few minutes.
Heard of the Lipid Hypothesis?
If not by
name, you’ve certainly heard of the concept behind the “lipid
hypothesis,” and that is that dietary fat causes heart
theory was largely spread by Ancel Keys, a diet researcher for whom
military K-rations are named, and it was because of the lipid hypothesis
that Americans were soon encouraged to substitute vegetable-based
fats for animal fats, and to avoid red meat completely.
Keys published his analysis that claimed to prove the link between
dietary fats and coronary heart disease, he selectively analyzed
information from only six countries to prove his correlation, rather
than comparing all the data available at the time – from 22 countries.
As a result
of this "cherry-picked" data, government health organizations
began bombarding the public with advice that has contributed to
the diabetes and obesity epidemics going on today: eat a low-fat
as Americans cut out nutritious animal fats from their diets, they
were left hungry. So they began eating more processed grains, more
vegetable oils, and more high-fructose corn syrup, all of which
are nutritional disasters.
the Studies That DO Show a Link between Fat and Heart Disease?
that dietary fat was causing heart disease in Americans back in
the 1950s, and he soon got others to jump on the bandwagon.
Even the American
Heart Association, which concluded in 1957 that “the evidence
that dietary fat correlates with heart disease does not stand
up to critical examination,” changed its position in 1960.
Keys was on the committee issuing a new report that a low-fat diet
was advised for people at risk of heart disease. Sadly, the theory
continued to be accepted as nutritional wisdom, even though clinical
trials found no connection.
however, some studies that have found a link between fat and heart
disease, and they are often used by saturated fat opponents to “prove”
lies in the fact that most of these studies make no effort to differentiate
between saturated fat and trans fat. I believe this is the missing
were to more carefully evaluate the risks of heart disease by measuring
the levels of trans and saturated fat, I believe they would find
a completely different story.
is known to increase your LDL levels, or "bad" cholesterol,
while lowering your levels of HDL, known as "good" cholesterol,
which is the complete opposite of what you need in order to maintain
good heart health. It can also cause major clogging of arteries,
type-2 diabetes and other serious health problems.
On the other
hand, your body needs some amount of saturated fat to stay healthy.
It is virtually impossible to achieve a nutritionally adequate diet
that has no saturated fat. What you don’t need, however, are
are some people who do well with a low-saturated-fat diet – the
one-third who are carb
nutritional types. Even then, however, some animal fats are
necessary and healthy, and two-thirds of people actually require
moderate- to high-saturated-fat diets to thrive.
Sources of Saturated Fats to Add to Your Diet
fat is not the root of all evil … and it is NOT to blame for
the modern disease epidemics facing Americans. Saturated fat is
actually an incredibly healthy, nourishing and all-natural fat that
humans have been thriving on for generations. Again, as Fallon and
Enig point out:
fatty acids constitute at least 50 percent of your cell membranes.
They are what gives your cells necessary stiffness and integrity.
- They play
a vital role in the health of your bones. For calcium to be effectively
incorporated into your skeletal structure, at least 50 percent
of your dietary fats should be saturated.
- They lower
Lp(a), a substance in your blood that indicates proneness to heart
- They protect
your liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol and
- They enhance
your immune system.
- They are
needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Elongated
omega-3 fats are better retained in your tissues when your diet
is rich in saturated fats.
18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred
foods for your heart, which is why the fat around your heart muscle
is highly saturated. Your heart draws on this reserve of fat in
times of stress.
and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial
properties. They protect you against harmful microorganisms in
your digestive tract.
do not shun saturated fats from your diet. If you’d like to
get the most tailored information about which fats, and how much
of them, to include in your optimal diet, first find
out your nutritional type. Then, make sure your meals include
some of these delicious and healthy sources of saturated fat:
organic beef and beef fat
raw dairy products (butter, cheese, milk, cream)