When it comes to fat a simple walk down the aisle of any grocery store reveals literally dozens of choices. Everything from Olive oil, canola oil, Coconut oil, Grape seed oil, Palm oil, etc… All of which claiming to be your option and in some way shape or form “better” than the other guys. Stroll over to the refrigerated section and again we’re confronted with a slew of other fat choices: Butter, margarine, cheese, half and half etc… So whats one to do? Who’s telling the truth when it comes to healthy fats? Well, one thing is for sure; the common beliefs about fat is way off target.
This blog is specifically about saturated fats and why we shouldn’t avoid them.
Animal fat such as butter, cream, lard, eggs, beef (grass fed of course) and even coconut oil are a few examples of saturated fats. You’ll notice that all of these fats remain solid at room temperature and the reason for this is simple; a fat is considered “saturated” Or “filled-up” when the chain of carbon atoms are fully “saturated” with a hydrogen atoms. Thus blocking oxidation, allowing no room for rancidity to take place and making it “shelf stable” or “solid”. That’s it. Not because it was created in a lab by a bunch of mad scientists plotting the end of man kind (although the demonization of it by current conventional wisdom would have you thinking otherwise). It’s actually some of the most naturally occurring stuff out there. Especially compared to some of its competition. Yes, I know what you’re thinking.. “what about cholesterol??” right? Well, lets not forget that only about 25% of the cholesterol in your body actually comes from your diet. The remaining 75% is produced in the liver and secreted into the body when necessary, and although saturated fat raises LDL (“bad cholesterol”) studies prove it also raises HDL (“good cholesterol”) too! Which is absolutely essential to your cognitive and physical health. So before you carve saturated fats out of your diet keep in mind that according to scientist Dr. Loren Cordain author of The Paleo Diet, over 50% of the calories consumed by our hunter-gatherer ancestors came from saturated fats found in animals. That means that for nearly a quarter of a million years of evolution we ate saturated fats. You can see why I find it so absurd to suggest that all of a sudden the human body is incapable metabolizing it and subsequently getting heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol and you name it from eating animals? All of which in the last 100 years of our existence? …Nah. I mean, it couldn’t possibly be from processed/bleached flour, grain, high fructose corn syrup, puffed wheat, genetically engineered crops and hydrogenated oils could it? C’mon, That’s just silly. Those billion dollar multi-national corporations would never sell toxic products right? Ha.
Ok enough on that. FYI, watch the documentary “Food Inc.” if you haven’t already. It’s a masterful depiction of the current state of our food industry.
Not all saturated fats are high in Cholesterol however. Take Coconut oil for example. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT). meaning it absorbs quickly in the body and doesn’t stick to the walls of arteries like some longer chain fatty acids might do. Coconut oil is really proving itself to be a miracle food. Not only does it provide all the antioxident and health benefits of saturated fats from animals with out the potential down side, but recent studies are revealing anti-cancer affects as well. It is also being shown to regulate blood sugar by slowing the absorbion of sugar in the small intestines as well as promoting a healthy digestive system. Brain health and other cognitive functions are also improved by consuming coconut oil on a regular basis. Check out these videos on ihealthtube.com for some great information on coconut oil and all its benefits.
As with anything in life moderation seems to be the answer. We can’t gorge on bacon and cheese all day just like we can’t continue to follow an out dated food pirimid that has been debunked several times since its creation in the 1970s. Most notably by Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and one of the foremost childhood-obesity researchers in the U.S. in his outstanding lecture entitled Sugar: The Bitter Truth. Which highlights the inverse relationship between a lower national fat consumption over the past 30 years, yet an increase in the metabolic diseases that were supposed to be associated with fat consumption. The answer: as fat consumption decreased, sugar consumption soared resulting in unprecedented health epidemics.
My opinion: A healthy balance of high quality proteins, vegetables and nuts with a small amount of carbohydrates (100 grams or less a day) mainly from rice and yams seems to be the winning recipe for me and most of my clients. Only a series of blood tests can tell you for sure how your body handles a higher fat diet but from what I’ve seen it works wonders.