Last night a heated conversation stirred up when a family member told me I should watch what I feed Andrew.
If you know Andrew personally, you know that he is a GOOD eater. When I mean good, I mean he eats more than me sometimes good. If you know me personally, you know that I do not feed Andrew any kind of processed, junk food (this includes goldfish, cheerios, cheese puffs, etc)- Andrew only gets organic, raw, whole foods. In reply to what he told me, I mentioned that I don’t need to worry because I feed him right including lots of saturated fats.
Wooo! That turned the heat up a little. The topic immediately got directed towards saturated fat with me for saturated fat and my family member against it. He actually laughed at me when I said saturated fats were good and I make sure I give them to Andrew every day. Unfortunately, since I’m still learning about all of this (and I take in a lot of different information every day) it was difficult for me to reinforce why I made sure Andrew ate saturated fats. You know how sometimes when you get so frustrated/angry that you let your emotions get to you so you can’t think straight? Yeah, that’s what happened to me and I had no logical, legitimate proof to defend why I believed saturated fat is necessary. I told him I would get back to him after I did a little more research so I could back myself up. When I got home after dinner I immediately went online and started reading up on it. I wanted to share with you what I learned about saturated fat.
What is saturated fat and what foods contain it?
There are 3 types of classifications when it comes to fatty acids; saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fat is the most stable of the 3 because all of the carbon bonds are occupied by hydrogen atoms. This is great because they normally do not go rancid and are great for cooking. They are hard in cooler climates and liquify with warmer climates (this is why you may notice your coconut oil become solid or liquify due to house temperatures).
Saturated fats are found in animal fats like duck and goose fat, chicken fat, lard, beef and mutton tallow. It can also be found in tropical oils like coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil and red palm oil.
You can obtain forms of saturated fats (monounsaturated fats) from food like avocados, olive oil, cashews, and peanuts.
When saturated fat became evil
In the late 1950’s a theory called the “Lipid Hypothesis” was proposed by a researched named Ancel Keys. The theory proposed that there was a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease. The articles became very well known in the media and industrialized food manufacturers started to help funding for further research. The popular study that “experts” tend to cite is from The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trail.
From the article “The Skinny on Fats” Weston A. Price Foundation states this about the study:
“The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial (LRC-CPPT), which cost 150 million dollars, is the study most often cited by the experts to justify lowfat diets. Actually, dietary cholesterol and saturated fat were not tested in this study as all subjects were given a low-cholesterol, low-saturated-fat diet. Instead, the study tested the effects of a cholesterol-lowering drug. Their statistical analysis of the results implied a 24% reduction in the rate of coronary heart disease in the group taking the drug compared with the placebo group; however, nonheart disease deaths in the drug group increased—deaths from cancer, stroke, violence and suicide.7 Even the conclusion that lowering cholesterol reduces heart disease is suspect. Independent researchers who tabulated the results of this study found no significant statistical difference in coronary heart disease death rates between the two groups.8 However, both the popular press and medical journals touted the LRC-CPPT as the long-sought proof that animal fats are the cause of heart disease, America’s number one killer.”
And don’t forget, before 1920 coronary heart disease was extremely rare in the United States. Coronary heart disease was so rare that a young internist named Paul Dudley White introduced the German electrocardiograph to his colleagues at Harvard University, they advised him to concentrate on a more profitable branch of medicine. To put it in a nut shell the machine showed blockages in arteries but because clogged arteries were a medical rarity the young internist had to go looking for patients that could try out his new machine.
Unfortunately over the next 40 years coronary heart disease sky rocketed making it the leading cause of death in the United States. If saturated fat was the main cause of heart disease one would think during that period of time (1910-1970) the consumption of saturated fat would have risen dramatically. The opposite is true though. Actually, the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. During the past eighty years, dietary cholesterol intake has increased only 1%. During the same period the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increased about 400% while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60%.
As we all know now margarine is far from a better substitute for butter. Margarine contains dangerous hydrogenated oils that create trans fatty acids. But remember, the same people (the Diet Dictrocrats) that told you margarine was healthier than butter also told you that saturated fat causes heart disease. So what am I trying to get at? Don’t automatically believe everything you hear and jump on the band wagon. It’s extremely important to educate yourself and read into the subject. Just because someone from a “reputable” stature tells you it’s safe to do something doesn’t automatically deem it safe.
A few statistics for you-
From the article “Skinny on Fats” Weston A. Price states some statistics that challenge the lipid hypothesis:
“Numerous surveys of traditional populations have yielded information that is an embarrassment to the Diet Dictocrats. For example, a study comparing Jews when they lived in Yemen, whose diets contained fats solely of animal origin, to Yemenite Jews living in Israel, whose diets contained margarine and vegetable oils, revealed little heart disease or diabetes in the former group but high levels of both diseases in the latter.14 (The study also noted that the Yemenite Jews consumed no sugar but those in Israel consumed sugar in amounts equaling 25-30% of total carbohydrate intake.) A comparison of populations in northern and southern India revealed a similar pattern. People in northern India consume 17 times more animal fat but have an incidence of coronary heart disease seven times lower than people in southern India.15 The Masai and kindred tribes of Africa subsist largely on milk, blood and beef. They are free from coronary heart disease and have excellent blood cholesterol levels.16 Eskimos eat liberally of animal fats from fish and marine animals. On their native diet they are free of disease and exceptionally hardy.17 An extensive study of diet and disease patterns in China found that the region in which the populace consumes large amounts of whole milk had half the rate of heart disease as several districts in which only small amounts of animal products are consumed.18 Several Mediterranean societies have low rates of heart disease even though fat—including highly saturated fat from lamb, sausage and goat cheese—comprises up to 70% of their caloric intake. The inhabitants of Crete, for example, are remarkable for their good health and longevity.19 A study of Puerto Ricans revealed that, although they consume large amounts of animal fat, they have a very low incidence of colon and breast cancer.20 A study of the long-lived inhabitants of Soviet Georgia revealed that those who eat the most fatty meat live the longest.21 In Okinawa, where the average life span for women is 84 years—longer than in Japan—the inhabitants eat generous amounts of pork and seafood and do all their cooking in lard.22 None of these studies is mentioned by those urging restriction of saturated fats.
The relative good health of the Japanese, who have the longest life span of any nation in the world, is generally attributed to a lowfat diet. Although the Japanese eat few dairy fats, the notion that their diet is low in fat is a myth; rather, it contains moderate amounts of animal fats from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood and organ meats. With their fondness for shellfish and fish broth, eaten on a daily basis, the Japanese probably consume more cholesterol than most Americans. What they do not consume is a lot of vegetable oil, white flour or processed food (although they do eat white rice.) The life span of the Japanese has increased since World War II with an increase in animal fat and protein in the diet.23 Those who point to Japanese statistics to promote the lowfat diet fail to mention that the Swiss live almost as long on one of the fattiest diets in the world. Tied for third in the longevity stakes are Austria and Greece—both with high-fat diets.24″
A few reasons why the Weston A. Price says saturated fat is good for you-
- Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50% of the cell membranes. They are what gives our cells necessary stiffness and integrity.
- They play a vital role in the health of our bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of the dietary fats should be saturated.38
- They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease.39 They protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol.40
- They enhance the immune system.41
- They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids.
Elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats. 42
- Saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for the heart, which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated.43 The heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress.
- Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.
The scientific evidence, honestly evaluated, does not support the assertion that “artery-clogging” saturated fats cause heart disease.44 Actually, evaluation of the fat in artery clogs reveals that only about 26% is saturated. The rest is unsaturated, of which more than half is polyunsaturated.45
The golden conclusion?
Eat your saturated fat and love that you are eating it. Slather butter on everything because you all can’t deny that it makes everything taste great! Incorporate as much coconut oil as you can in your diet. Use coconut oil in place for baking and cooking with. Use olive oil for homemade dressings and eat lots of avocados! Fats are good for you and are essential for a healthy life.
Just remember to make sure you get your food from trusted sources that have cows grazing on green grass throughout the year. How the animal has been raised makes the difference between a nutrient loaded butter vs butter that came from an industrialized unhappy dairy cow. Raw is always best but if you don’t have access I recommend Organic Valley pastured unsalted butter or Strauss pastured unsalted butter. Always make sure your butter only has one ingredient which would be cream.
One last tid bit to think about. Why trust something that was made in a laboratory than something that has been around for hundreds of years?
Until next time,
Loriel – Healthy Roots, Happy Soul
1. The Skinny on Fats, http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats#lipid
2. Enig, Mary G, PhD, Trans Fatty Acids in the Food Supply: A Comprehensive Report Covering 60 Years of Research, 2nd Edition, Enig Associates, Inc, Silver Spring, MD, 1995, 4-8
This post is part of Monday Mania