7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat

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Tim Ferriss
of The
Four-Hour Work Week
has posted an exclusive excerpt from
Drs. Michael and Mary Eades’ newest book, The
6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle
.

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:

1) Improved
cardiovascular risk factors

Saturated
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
weight.

2) Stronger
bones

Saturated
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.

3) Improved
liver health

Saturated
fat has been shown to protect the liver from alcohol and medications,
including acetaminophen and other drugs commonly used for pain and
arthritis.

4) Healthy
lungs

For proper
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.

5) Healthy
brain

Your brain
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.

6) Proper
nerve signaling

Certain saturated
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
of insulin.

7) Strong
immune system

Saturated
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.

Source: Four
Hour Work Week September 6, 2009

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

A misguided
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.

The truth
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 the 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.

Saturated
fats are also:

  • The preferred
    fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during
    energy expenditure
  • Useful
    antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
  • Effective
    as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti-fungal agent (lauric acid)
  • Useful
    to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
  • Modulators
    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
The
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.

Have You
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
disease.

This flawed
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.

However, when
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
diet.

Of course,
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.

What About
the Studies That DO Show a Link Between Fat and Heart Disease?

Keys believed
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.

Why? Because
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.

There are,
however, some studies that have found a link between fat and heart
disease, and they are often used by saturated fat opponents to “prove”
their case.

The problem
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 link.

If researchers
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.

Trans fat
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
trans fats.

Further, there
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.

Healthy
Sources of Saturated Fats to Add to Your Diet

Saturated 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:

  • Saturated
    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
    disease.
  • They protect
    your liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol and
    other drugs.
  • 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.
  • Saturated
    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.
  • Short-
    and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial
    properties. They protect you against harmful microorganisms in
    your digestive tract.

So please
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:

  • Grass-fed
    organic beef and beef fat
  • Naturally
    raised lamb
  • Organic
    raw dairy products (butter, cheese, milk, cream)
  • Coconut oil

    June
    22, 2010

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