If you celebrated Easter you probably have an assortment of pastel colored eggs you’re not sure what to do with. After all eggs, along with butter and steak, are full of saturated fat and bad for your arteries, right?
Despite this being generally accepted thinking since the 1950’s no studies have ever proven this and in fact, several large recent studies show no effect and perhaps even a detrimental effect of cutting saturates, especially when replaced with carbs including bread and pasta.
A March report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed 72 studies of dietary fat with over 600,000 participants. They found no correlation between saturated fats and heart disease nor did they find health benefits with consumption of polyunsaturated fats. In over a half million people, the authors report “null associations” between saturated fats and heart disease or stroke.
Given studies like this would never have chosen grass fed meats or dairy as the saturated fat source, this surprises even me. Remember grass fed animal products are rich in disease-righting omega 3 fats and lower in inflammatory fats.
This comes not long after another meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March 2010 summarized results of 21 studies on fats, with authors concluding: “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”
In still another analysis of 16 studies, authors found no role between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease and when saturates were replaced with carbohydrates (bread, pasta, low fat muffins….), risk of heart disease went up.
Saturated fat is essential to health. Saturates give our cell walls integrity. They enable us to produce hormones. The brain is primarily saturated fat and cholesterol and requires a steady diet of these nutrients to thrive.
Fats in general slow absorption of food so we aren’t hungry soon after meals. Fats carry nutrients into the blood stream, including calcium, magnesium and vitamins A and D. We can’t build strong bones without fat.
If you enjoy wine or cocktails, saturated fats protect your liver from alcohol damage, and can even reverse the effects of overindulgence.
Certain saturated fats are antifungal; some fight dental caries. Palmitic and stearic acids, fatty acids found in palm oil, butter, pork, lard and chocolate, actually help to lower cholesterol levels.
Still unconvinced? read this.
The Women’s Health Initiative, a study of 49,000 women, reported in 2006 that low-fat diets do nothing for weight loss nor do they prevent heart attacks, breast or colon cancers, or stroke. In fact, women with heart disease who switched to low-fat diets experienced a 26 percent increase in heart disease deaths. According to Harvard’s web site, this is “the final nail in the coffin” for low-fat diets.
For many this means a huge change in thinking. It was for me, and it took me several years to inch my way back to a fat-rich diet of my childhood. The added fat improved every area of my health, from my expanding belly to my mood to my blood pressure.
The fat-is-bad message has been repeated so many times we have accept it as truth. Now we repeat it like a mantra.
“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” George Bernard Shaw