Saturated Fats are Good or Bad for Your Health? You Decide!

The consumption of saturated fats (from animals) are often cited as a major cause of heart disease, high LDL cholesterol levels, arterial plaque, and even obesity. In fact, American’s have long been told that restricting fat intake is the only way to ensure you’ll live a long and healthy life.

However, for thousands of years before vegetable oils and margarine’s came into being, animal fat was hailed and played a large role in the human diet.

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Today, doctors and nutritionist warn their patients to reduce their intake of saturated fats because they aren’t good for your health. But as history unveils, that’s a bunch of bull fat!

The Truth about Animal Fats

Saturated fats, (from animal and some vegetable sources), are great natural energy boosters, help promote healthy cell membranes and the formation of powerful hormones. When fats are included as part of a healthy meal (such as pork chops or rib eye steak), it slows down how fast your body utilizes/absorbs your food. In turn, your body feels satiety longer, which keeps you from reaching for snacks after meals Too boot, dietary fats act as carriers for all fat soluble vitamins, such as E, A, D, and K, and play an important role in the absorption of minerals, such as selenium and zinc.

Ancel Keys

At the end of the 1950’s, a man known as Ancel Keys developed what’s famously known as the ‘lipid hypothesis’, which showed a direct correlation between saturated fat, cholesterol in the diet, and heart disease. Although the conclusions for his data were later questioned by multiple other studies, Keys’ studies surpassed all of them publicity-wise. Companies that manufactured vegetable oils and processed foods began promoting his claims, which in turned, pushed the lipid hypothesis even further.

Nathan Pritikin

Another well known advocate of the low fat diet was Nathan Pritikin. He promoted a low fat diet devoid of all processed foods, sugars, and products made from white flour. His diet consisted of whole grains, raw foods and a strenuous exercise routine. However, it was his promotion of low fats that got the most attention by journalists. The diet did reduce the incidence of blood cholesterol and heart disease but the diet was so strict, weight loss was viewed as an inevitable side effect.

Pritikin soon found that there were many flaws in his low fat diet because people just couldn’t stick with it for long periods of time. Furthermore, those people who did muster the strength to remain on the diet, developed other health problems including low energy, brain fog, depression, weight gain and mineral deficiencies.

Pritikin avoided heart disease but developed cancer. He committed suicide when he realized that his diet couldn't help cure his condition.

Doctors today suggest their patients consume as little fat as possible. Patients are told to restrain the amount of fat consumed to around 30 percent of their total daily calories, which is around 4 tablespoons in a 2000 calorie diet.

But is that advice true?

Health experts claim that the lipid hypothesis is supported by strong scientific proof. However, there is actually very little evidence that supports the theory.

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Flaws with the Lipid Hypothesis

Prior to 1920, heart disease was unheard of in America. It was so rare, that when a young internist named Paul Dudley White introduced the German electrocardiograph (EKG) to his associates at Harvard University, they suggested that he seek out a more profitable branch of medicine. His new machine could spot arterial blockage, which showed early signs of heart disease.

However, since the condition was rare in those days, he had problems finding patients who could benefit from his revolutionary new machine. During the next forty years, the incidence of heart disease exploded. By the mid 1950’s, heart disease was the leading cause of American deaths. Today, heart disease is one of the leading killers in the US.

You might naturally assume that there was a pronounced increase in the consumption of animal fats during that time. However quite the opposite is true.

From 1910 – 1970, the proportion of animal fats in the American diet declined from 83 percent to 62 percent. Butter consumption declined from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. Dietary cholesterol intake increased only around 1 percent but the consumption of vegetable oil, refined oils, and shortening increased 400 percent, while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60 percent.

In the next years, a series of studies were done in order to prove that a low fat diet reduced coronary artery disease. They included the Framingham Heart Study, a multiyear British study, the US Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, and the Lipid Research Clinic Coronary Primary Prevention Trial.

The few studies that showed a relationship between a decrease in coronary heart disease and fat reduction also indicated an inherent upswing in deaths from other illnesses like cancer, brain hemorrhage, suicide, and violent death.

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Why Saturated Fats are Good for You!

While it is true that some fats are plain bad for you, they probably aren’t the fats you’ve been told to avert. It’s a misnomer that the avoidance of saturated fats are the best way to live a long healthy life! Fat free foods and cholesterol free foods often contain many other additives, flavorings, and chemicals that are far worse to consume. Plus, they rarely keep you satisfied for very long.

Lipids are organic substances that do not mix with water. Fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached to the bonds. Most fat in the human body and in the foods we eat are a class known as triglycerides. These are three fatty acid chains with a glycerol molecule attached. While it is true that elevated triglyceride levels have been linked to heart disease, the triglycerides do not come from dietary sources. Instead, they are made in the liver, produced by excess sugars that were not used for energy. Sources of the sugars are mainly from carbs, high fructose corn syrup, and products made with refined white flour, and are not attributed to saturated fats.

How Fatty Acids are Classified

Saturated fats: A fatty acid is saturated when a hydrogen bond is attached to a carbon bond. They are considered to be very stable, because all of the carbon-atom links are saturated with hydrogen. They rarely go rancid, even when they’re exposed to high heat for cooking purposes. Since they’re saturated, they pack together and form a solid or semi solid fat at room temperature. They are found animal fats and tropical oils like coconut oil and your body makes saturated fats from carbohydrates.

Monounsaturated fats: These fatty acids have one double bond of two carbon but lack two hydrogen atoms. Your body makes them from saturated fatty acids but are still considered to be fairly stable. They do not go rancid easily and are good to use for cooking. The most common form of monounsaturated fats is oleic acid, found in olive oil, avocados, and many unprocessed nuts.

Polyunsaturated fats: These fatty acids have two or more pairs of double bonded carbons, and lack four or more hydrogen atoms. They are usually a linoleic acid in the form of omega 6 fatty acids or omega 3 fatty acids. Your body cannot produce these fats and are therefore referred to as essential fatty acids. The bonds are not tightly packed together and therefore are always in liquid form and go rancid easily. They should never be heated and used for cooking purposes but unfortunately, they’re used all the time. Examples of polyunsaturated fats include canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and corn oil.

The Length of Fatty Acid Chains

Fatty acids are classified according to their length and their degree of saturation.

Short-chain fatty acids are always saturated and the most stable. They are found mainly in butterfat from cows, and in butterfat from goats. They contain antimicrobial properties and protect you from viruses, yeast overgrowth, and pathogenic bacteria in the gut. They are absorbed very quickly for energy and are less likely to cause you to gain weight. They also contribute to a healthy immune system.

Medium-chain fatty acids are found in butterfat and the tropical oils. They contain most of the health benefits as do the short chain fatty acids.

Long-chain fatty acids can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Stearic acid is mostly found in beef and mutton tallows. Oleic acid is a component of olive oil. Another monounsaturated fatty acid is a long chain palmitoleic acid which has strong antimicrobial properties and can be found chiefly in animal fats. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) can be found in evening primrose and borage oils. Your body manufactures GLA out of omega-6 linoleic acid and uses it to make prostaglandins, localized tissue hormones that regulate cellular level functions.

Very-long-chain fatty acids are highly unsaturated and are mainly found in essential fatty acids. Most people must obtain them from outside sources such as organ meats, egg yolks, butter or fish oils. Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) is the most important very long chain fatty acid which is also used for the production of prostaglandins.

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Saturated Fats versus Polyunsaturated Fats

The public has been fed a great deal of bad information about the benefits of saturated fats versus polyunsaturated oils. Fear mongers would have you believe that saturated fats are horrible for your health and cause cancer and heart disease. This repetitive push for fewer saturated fats in the diet has drastically changed the Western diet over the years. Butter and lard have been degraded and vulgarized, while vegetable oils, derived from soy, corn, canola, and safflower oil, have been praised as the good for you, ‘go to’ fats.

Today’s diets contain as much as 30 percent polyunsaturated fats. In contrast, it should be no more than 4 percent of the total calorie intake. In tropical climates, the intake of polyunsaturated oils is from small amounts of natural polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, vegetables, fish, olive oil, and legumes but never from commercial vegetable oils.

Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils contributes to heart disease, repressed immune system, liver, lung, and reproductive organ damage, cancer, digestive problems, learning disabilities, repressed growth, and an excess of weight. One reason they cause so many health problems is because they become oxidized when used in cooking, which causes the formation of free radicals, which damage DNA/RNA strands and cause mutations in tissues, blood vessels, and skin. New research demonstrates that free radicals cause premature aging, cancer, autoimmune diseases (arthritis and with Parkinson's disease), Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer's and cataracts.

Too Much and Too Little

Health issues related to excesses of polyunsaturated fats are heightened because most of them are commercial vegetable oils massively produced in large vats. They contain far too much omega 6 fatty acids and insufficient amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Consuming an excessive amount of omega 6 linoleic acid creates an imbalance in the production of prostaglandins, which results many health related problems.

And of course, if you’re consuming a plethora of omega 6 oils, you’re most probably not getting enough omega 3 fatty acids, which can be a red flag waiver in your body. Deficiencies are highly dangerous to your health and should be avoided. Most of today’s agricultural and industrial practices have dramatically reduced the amount of available omega 3 fatty acids even more. Most of today's vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat, are nearly devoid of omega 3 fatty acids. For example, today’s eggs may contain as much as nineteen times more omega-6 fats as omega 3 fats. That ratio was originally 1:1.

Any oil that has been commercially produced is sheer garbage to your health. As an extra caveat, much of the canola and corn oils today are genetically modified too, which is doubly bad for your health! Fats and oils that are good for you are produced naturally, either because they're part of an animal or food, grown in a crop, or expeller pressed. (cold pressed oil). Saturated fats are vital to good health, good sources of energy, and natural bacterial protectors. They do not cause heart disease and in moderation, should be included regularly in a healthy, low carbohydrate diet.

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In Favor of Saturated Fats

Not long ago, a 105 year old Texas woman and mother of 7 children, told reporters that the key to longevity was eating bacon everyday.

She swears by bacon and says it keeps her young! She exercises regularly and is full of energy that twenty year-old's would be envious having. You can read the full story here: 105 Year Old Woman Says Bacon Keeps Her Alive

Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.

Related Pages on This Site

Why Refined Vegetable Oil Should Never Be Used for Cooking

Oil Pulling – Cleanse Toxins and Whiten Teeth

Omega 3 Oils – To Improve Your Health

The Benefits of Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Boosting Immunity – Healthy Foods that Keep You Well

Grape Seeds Benefits and Super Antioxidant Powers


Saturated Fat: The Forbidden Food You Should Never Stop Eating

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