Saturated Fat – Is Saturated Fat bad for you? Let's look...
Due to the Lipid Hypothesis, between 1910 and 1970 our fat intake has been reduced by 21%, refined oils (vegetable oil – bad fats) has increased by 400%, and studies show that sugar has increased about 60%. Based on what has been suggested by the SAD (Standard American Diet), we should see a reduction in Coronary Heart Disease and the like. However we don’t. We’ve actually have seen the opposite.
Studies from the AHA tell us that today 75 Million Americans suffer from Heart Disease, 20 Million have Diabetes and 57 Million are on the brink. These numbers continue to get worse.
Well Jimmy, I think the Lipid Hypothesis has not withstood the test of time. It has failed us. It was a good hypothesis, however incorrect. At least we tried. Now it’s time to try something else. (It seems Inflammation may be the cause of Heart Disease – read this article to learn about Inflammation).
So if saturated fats aren’t the devil, does that mean we can, or perhaps SHOULD include them into our diet? Let us look at some facts and make a decision that makes sense.
We are going to look at saturated fat and its effect on vitamins uptake, DHA/EPA Absorption, its effect on immune health and its hormonal effects. There are other benefits, but these are the most relevant to our goals of living a healthy life with a lean physique.
Fat can be broken down into 3 categories; Short Chain, Medium Chain, and Long Chain Triglycerides (Fatty Acids). Short and Medium Chain Fatty Acids are used for sustained energy, and due to the essence of the nutrient, is not likely to be stored as fat in the body unless consumed in excess. Unrefined Coconut Oil and Grass Fed Butter are great examples of food staples that include Medium Chain Triglycerides.
There are two types of vitamins, Fat Soluble and Water Soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. The idea of the Paleo Diet Evolved is to provide healthy nutrients (vitamins, minerals, macro-nutrients) so our bodies can perform optimally. Fat soluble vitamins need fat in the diet so these vitamins can be properly transported and absorbed. These fat soluble vitamins play crucial roles in our bodies and without enough fat to help them get absorbed, vitamin deficiency can occur. These vitamins tend to work synergistically. For example, vitamin A and D build certain proteins, and vitamin K will activate it. This cannot happen without saturated fat in our diet.
We have all heard that Fish Oil (Omega 3) is great for our health, but according Mary Enig in her book “Know Your Fats”, including saturated fat in the diet can help our bodies retain Omega 3 in our cells and even help convert ALA to its usable form DHA. This can help reduce insulin resistance and thus lead to weight loss. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential to our diets and this is something that cannot be ignored. Omega 3's need saturated fat to function properly!
When making educated choices about where to get your saturated fat from, you will likely be choosing Grass Fed Butter and/or Unrefined Coconut Oil. Both of these oils are great for cooking (they will not oxidize with heat like olive oil) and have a high content of Lauric Acid (found in Medium Chain Triglycerides). Lauric Acid is absorbed more easily and thus are more likely to be used for energy than to be stored as fat for later fuel. Due to these properties, coconut oil can help in boosting metabolism which also helps burn unwanted fat. Studies are still being done on this subject and will continue to evolve – however things are looking very promising. Lauric Acid is also highly anti-microbial and can help our immune system! It is also found in breast milk and is currently being tested as an HIV prevention method!
Saturated Fat can also have an effect our or hormonal response. Every cell membrane in our body is made up of 50% saturated fat and 50% unsaturated fat – it needs to be properly balanced to send and receive messages (hormones transported). What is also interesting for us trying to add lean muscle to our physiques is that a low fat diet can also restrict the amount of free testosterone in the body (testosterone has a muscle building, fat burning effect). This is because low fat diets increase Globulin Levels which binds to testosterone, making it unavailable for use – not good.
Clearly saturated fat has a place in our diet, ranging from vitamin absorption to our bodies hormonal response. However this doesn’t mean to have a hay day with saturated fat and eat mass amounts. While eating a diet consisting of healthy fats, HDL (good cholesterol) will be increased, but its brother LDL (bad cholesterol) will also be increased. With that being said, this isn’t something we should be terribly concerned about because;
A. You will not be eating massive amounts of Saturated Fat and when you do, it will come from healthy
sources like Coconut Oil/Grass Fed Butter (Healthy Balance of Omega 3) and
B. The increase in LDL will be offset by both the increase in HDL to remove cholesterol from bloodstream and from the other healthy food choices the Paleo Diet offers.
So the question remains; Is Saturated Fat bad for you? Well…no. Like many things in life, saturated fat CAN be bad for us in excess, but when included in a healthy diet in small portions saturated fat can give you all of its benefits while restricting the only negative property it holds – increasing LDL. While this is a serious issue, it is not something so serious that one should lose all of the benefits in fear of the small risk. Based on the findings in this article, and knowing the other healthy foods that are included in the Paleo diet (green vegetables), you can afford to eat a variety of foods, knowing that you are feeding your body what it wants so it will be able to take care of itself the way it was evolved to.
Take home message about Saturated Fat
Don’t be afraid to cook with saturated fat; coconut oil, grass fed butter, and lard. Doing so will give you a healthy cooking oil that will not oxidize when heated and provide the benefits of saturated fat
-Saturated fat can help Fatty Acid (Omega 3) and vitamin (A, D, E, K) absorption
-Saturated fat helps with hormonal function and our immune health
-Saturated fat can provide sustained energy while increasing metabolism.
Include Saturated Fat in your Diet!