Very few words evoke a more visceral emotional response that the words “saturated fat;” this class of molecules has been so vilified in the mainstream consciousness, that it is almost a prerequisite to include the words “artery-clogging” as an adjective when talking about them. But as health writer, Gary Taubes once postulated, “What if it has all been one BIG FAT LIE?” While most current recommendations advise against the consumption of fats, with a particular focus on saturated fats, fat represent a vital component of human health and nutrition.
In the millennia prior to the guidelines currently set forth by the modern medical establishment, saturated fat as found in animal meat, organs, and dairy provided a major component of the human diet. Many essential micronutrients, such as Vitamins A, D, E and K are not bioavailable in the absence of dietary fat intake. Saturated fat is called so due to the fact that all of the carbons present are attached to a hydrogen molecule, or saturated, thus making them more biochemically stable than the double bonds founds in mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. As such, they provide for many roles in the body, including accounting for roughly half of the make up of cell membranes. Ergo, when saturated fats are used by the body these components are more resistant to oxidative damage…this is a good thing!
So where did the fear of fat come from? In the 1970's a researcher by the name Ancel Keys in his landmark Seven Countries Study concluded that there was a correlation between countries with high intakes of saturated fat and heart disease. Unfortunately, he had access to data from twenty-two studies, which had they all been included, would not have led him to such a conclusive assessment. Studies of indigenous populations such as the Masai and the Inuit have found them free of the diseases of civilization, in spite of their high saturated fat intake. Recent research, as evidenced by a meta-analysis conducted by Siri-Tarino et al. in 2010 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has found there to be no correlation between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease.
Given this information, it would appear that the saturated fat fears are somewhat unfounded. So where should we get our saturated fat from? Excellent sources include the meat and organs of grass-fed ruminants (cows, bison, lamb, deer, elk, etc.) and unpasteurized/unhomogenized full fat dairy such as milk, cream, butter and ghee, also from grass-fed animals. However, while these recommendations are great for those who eat animals, or vegetarians who do dairy, what about vegans? Fortunately, the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil are also an incredibly healthy source of saturated fat. In fact, we recommend coconut oil to everyone vegan or otherwise. Not only does coconut oil taste great, it has both anti-viral/bacterial properties, and its MCTs helps boost metabolism and burn fat naturally. In our new book Rich Food, Poor Food we direct you to the best quality saturated fats, both vegan and animal source, and even offer you exclusive RICH FOOD coupons towards them.(Click here to preorder RICH FOOD, POOR FOOD)
This is all just a basic primer on saturated fats; many of the topics we have touched upon here will be addressed in depth in later blogs. However, we will leave you with what we thing is a relevant quote from Frederic Bastiat, “We must admit that our opponents in this argument have a marked advantage over us. They need only a few words to set forth a half-truth; whereas, in order to show that it is a half-truth, we have to resort to long and arid dissertations.” While those in the know have embraced fat, including saturated fat, and know that it can play an important role in helping us achieve optimal health, the fact is, fat faces an uphill battle before it will be accepted by the mainstream as the true “health food” it really is. Until then the best way to do your part in the fight is to enjoy your pasture-raised organic bacon, and eggs and your grass fed/finished organic beef and coconut oil and let your health be a shining testament of the health producing power of FAT!