Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap for decades but has finally been vindicated. Read on for the need to know about your tasty saturated fats!
What is saturated fat?
Saturated fat is found in animal meats, dairy products, eggs and coconut and palm oils. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Coincidentally, animal sources of saturated fat also contain a lot of fat soluble vitamins.The amounts of these vitamins are highest when the animals are raised in a way that mimics a life in the wild. (1)
Eating saturated fat and cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease
Eating saturated fat can increase cholesterol, but in a neutral way. If you’re confused, I can understand. Saturated fat increases HDL (high density lipoprotein) which is your “good” cholesterol. (2,3) Many people have heard that LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. That is what we were told for decades. Lately, research has shown us that it’s not that simple. We now know that large sized LDL particles aren’t harmful and small sized LDL particles are associated with cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat increases the size of your LDL (low density lipoprotein) and thus has been absolved of a lot of the concerns about it causing heart disease. (4)
Even the Heart and Stroke foundation recently released a report saying that eating whole, unprocessed foods is the most important plan for heart health. (5) Furthermore, when saturated fat intake is reduced and replaced with sugar this can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. (6)
Did you know that cholesterol intake hasn’t been proven to cause high cholesterol in the average person? Your liver actually produces 75-85% of your cholesterol in your body. Monitoring cholesterol intake isn’t necessary unless you are one of the 15-25% of people who have a genetic tendency to have high cholesterol. If you’ve switched to eating more saturated fat and cholesterol in the context of a healthy diet rich in plants and low in sugar and your test results are showing unfavourable changes you may need to reduce your intake. (2,7)
So what should you eat?
All told, this means that the average person can have their butter, coconut oil and eggs and not be concerned about it leading to heart disease. Does it mean that 6 eggs a day is great idea? Not necessarily. If you fill up on fat and meat you’ll miss out on all the wonderful health benefits of plants. Plant foods should still make up about 80% of what’s on your plate.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I cover why eating fat helps you lose weight, why it’s okay to cook with saturated fat and how much you should eat.
- Newcastle University. “New study finds clear differences between organic and non-organic milk and meat.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160215210707.htm Accessed May 2, 2016
- Kresser C. The diet-heart myth: cholesterol and saturated fat are not the enemy. http://chriskresser.com/the-diet-heart-myth-cholesterol-and-saturated-fat-are-not-the-enemy/ Accessed on May 2, 2016
- Creon DM, Fernstrom HA, Campos H, Blanche P, Williams PT, Krauss RM. Change in dietary saturated fat intake is correlated with change in mass of large low-density-lipoprotein particles in men. Am J Clin Nutr May 1998 vol. 67 no. 5 828-836. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/67/5/828.short Accessed on May 2, 2016
- Campos H, Genest JJ Jr, McNamara JR, Jenner JL, Ordovas JM, Wilson PW, Schaefer EJ. Low density lipoprotein particle size and coronary artery disease. Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 1992;12:187-195http://atvb.ahajournals.org/content/12/2/187.short Accessed May 2, 2016
- Weeks C. Saturated fats no longer the true enemy, experts say. Globe and Mail, September 24, 2015.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/saturated-fats-no-longer-the-true-enemy-experts-say/article26513320/ Accessed May 2, 2016.
- Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q , Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fat, carbohydrate and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr March 2010 vol. 91 no. 3 502-509. . http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/502.short Accessed May 2, 2016
- United States Department of Agriculture. Scientific report of the 2015 dietary guidelines advisory committee.United States Department of Agriculture. February 2015. . http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/ Accessed May 2, 2015