Saturated Fats… Will they really kill ME?
For many people, the word ‘fat’ is scary and bad! No one wants to have anything to do with fat (unless you are looking to gain weight of course). But not all fats are scary. For decades we have been told to avoid them, but this is not necessarily the case. Read on and I will help you navigate the flawed research on fats.
Consuming fats allegedly lead to weight gain, heart disease, stroke, and Type2 diabetes.
So let's set the record straight: NOT ALL FATS ARE BAD!
It's important not to group all fats into a single category. Trans-fats and Omega6, have been proven to cause heart disease, but saturated fats found in red meats, full-fat dairy, and eggs do not contribute to heart disease or bad cholesterol.
In recent decades there’s been a pandemic of heart disease obesity and type2 diabetes. The finger of suspicion has been pointed at fat, leading us to obsess about ‘low-fat diets and over-indulge in carb-rich, ultra-processed foods (simply because we are so hungry).
Since the late 1950’s saturated fat and dietary cholesterol were believed to cause heart disease. But it was all based on circumstantial evidence and terrible science. Quite simply, it wasn’t true then and it's not true now!
Ancel Benjamin Keys, an American physiologist who studied the relationship between diet and health, came up with a hypothesis which was then reviewed by The American Heart Association (the AHA).
Based on Keys’ “diet-heart hypothesis” the AHA recommended reducing total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol intake. This recommendation was that people should cut back on eating saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, including meat (as it contains both), as well as full-fat dairy, cheese, and eggs.
Keys asserted that cutting back on saturated fats and dietary cholesterol would prevent heart disease. But he could not have been more wrong. Meat contains various fatty acids, one of them being ‘stearic acid’ which does not raise harmful cholesterol.
In comparison to the high levels of carbs and polyunsaturated fats (i.e. vegetable oil) found in the processed foods which have come to dominate the British and American diet, saturated fats from “real” food (meat and dairy) are truly healthy.
As discussed in our recent podcast with Dr Malcolm Kendrick, fat and cholesterol are transported around the body via the bloodstream. Because the bloodstream is watery, and fats are oily, evolution has provided an elegant transport mechanism (the lipids) to allow this. When lipids get damaged (oxidised or glycated) these damage our blood vessel walls. It is THIS that this is the major root cause of heart disease NOT fats and certainly NOT cholesterol.
So the pandemic of heart disease is caused by processed foods. We’ve all been misled for profit:
Although a small amount of trans-fat does occur naturally, many food manufacturers use hydrogenated oils to increase the shelf life, flavour and palatability of their products.
In conclusion: saturated fats are perfectly healthy. (This is what 2 million years of human evolution designed us to eat!)
- Heart disease and related health problems are mainly cause by eating refined carbs and vegetable oils NOT saturated fat.
- Exercising and eating real foods are key components of a healthy diet.
- Do not avoid meats (especially red meat) as they contain vital micronutrients
- With a better understanding, we can make healthier dietary choices.
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