Saturated Fat. What do you think of when you hear the words? Just the word ‘saturated’ makes me run in the other direction. If you’re a healthy living enthusiast, then perhaps you squirm at the thought of a meal loaded with it. Talk of anything awry, from clogged arteries to obesity, the prime suspect will almost always be saturated fat. You have most likely changed, and if not, have considered changing your diet to rid yourself of the “saturated-menace”. You buy skim milk, you gutter egg-yolks and never eat a steak or even butter.
Despite that, I bet you now and then dream about the eggs and bacon breakfasts that you so often loved to chow down during a time that feels so beyond reach. The thought of planning a trip away with a full buffet breakfast makes you smile from ear to ear. Well, it’s quite possible that it would be more than okay for you to have your bacon back! Here’s the thing: saturated fat is without a doubt actually, GOOD for you.
Caught Up In A Huge Bungle!
How many times has a whole mass of people claimed something was the gospel truth, only for it to turn out to be quite a colossal mistake? The world was once flat, and back then anyone who refuted that “fact” was put to death, literally!
The first apparent correlation between saturated fat and heart disease was claimed in 1970. The research study back then, was known as “The Seven Countries Study.” It was the study that everyone started pointing their fingers at saturated fat. The low-fat era began.
What we didn’t know, and what took a long time to even be recognized was that the study was however, later discovered to be flawed. Why? Because it didn’t consider possible third party factors such as sugar consumption, amount of exercise and even major ones like smoking. The report also claimed that the study was carried out in seven countries. The shocking fact is that it was actually twenty-two countries. Why would they do that? you ask. Well the data was not inclusive because if they had included the whole sample size of 22 counties, the results would have contradicted the theory that unsaturated fat increases your chances of getting a heart attack! The complete opposite. (The lengths at which we go to influence the truth… Quite, damning!) Why would they do this? Because they made a hell of alot of money promoting and marketing ‘low fat’ and ‘no fat’ products.
Governments became proactive and started campaigns that would fix the “saturated menace”. Policies that would boost public health erupted, and so came the infamous food pyramid that would be used for close to 20 years. For all that time, there were promises of better health for as long as you maintained a diet with as much as 11 servings of rice, 5 servings of vegetables, 3 servings of meats and a sparing amount of fats in a day.
The well-meant move proved to be a contradiction, rather than a solution. The amount of calories most definitely did reduce. Be that as it was, obesity doubled and heart disease continued to be the country’s biggest assassin. This is not to say that there is one, and only one, reason for the obesity crisis. There is however, a need to know whether we should incorporate more saturated fat in our diet.
The Downfall of the Saturated Fat Myth
Let’s get our hands dirty with some scientific jargon to understand what is actually going on here. A cholesterol molecule is actually insoluble, because it is a lipid, a structure found in oils and fats. In order to travel around the body, cholesterol combines with a protein to form lipoprotein. (Already snoring?!)
Long story short, when there is more protein than cholesterol, it forms High Density Lipoproteins (HDLs). When the cholesterol has higher density it forms low density lipoproteins (LDLs). HDL’s, LDLs… WTF you lost yet…don’t be hold on, it gets easier.
The HDL is known as “good” cholesterol while LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol (if you refer to the picture above, LDL gets ‘dumped’ inside the arteries, eventually clogging them up, whilst HDL helps remove plaque from the arteries). HDL’s travel smoothly to the liver. LDL’s, however, pile up along the way resulting in clogged arteries as well as causing other health complications. With that in mind, the ratio of HDL to LDL is actually more important than the total amount of cholesterol we take in to our bodies. However, the myth is that saturated fat is believed to increase the bad cholesterol.
However, this is where it really gets interesting. The other side of the story that no one really remembers is that there is a variation to the LDL too. LDL Cholesterol has 2 types (A & B). Type A are big floaty particles, while Type B are small and dense. A reduction in the consumption of saturated fat only lowers the Type A particles. Despite this, it is not type A but type B that results in heart diseases. The levels of Type B particles are determined by… how much carbohydrates you consume. In other words, when reducing the risk of heart diseases, the best means would be eat a diet low in carbs, instead of a diet low in fat. (Get a load of that!)
You Most Definitely Need That B-B-B-Bacon!
Saturated fat could do your body a lot of good. It increases the health of your liver. The liver cells are encouraged to dispose off fat content, thus helping the liver perform better. This helps get rid of your middle-body fat. It also helps protect your liver from toxins that come from alcohol and medication.
Saturated Fats are also important when boosting your immune system. Saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil help increase the ability of your white blood cells to recognize and destroy viruses and bacteria. These are only a few of the benefits of ingesting saturated fats, the list goes on.
Proceed With Caution! Calorie Alert!
Keep in mind that fat is rich in calories. It could therefore very easily contribute to an increase in weight. There are much more than twice the calories in a gram of fat compared to 1 gram of protein or even carbohydrates. Then again, so long as a keep a close watch on how much saturated fat you’re taking, then it will not come with any unfavorable effect on the your body. Truth be told, increasing fat ingestion could help with weight reduction.
Also note that the fact that fat is good, doesn’t give you the license to go on a fat-binging phase. Not every source of saturated fat is healthy. Processed foods are more likely to bring you nothing but trouble in the long run.
According to the American Heart Association, refined sugar is a major subscriber to the show that shows you dying from a heart attack. Yes, you love your hot-dog and all other meats that never ate grass in their previous life, but you need to prioritize your options: eat real meat, or let processed meat eat you!
Thankfully, a lot is being done to undo the saturated fat myths. There are reviews being done by governments, researchers and scientists. In fact, Sweden took the lead and advocated for a high-fat diet to its citizens.
So we hope that we have cleared the air on the saturated fat show . There are so many things that contribute to heart disease from inactivity to trans-fats. Saturated fat is delightedly off the list. So how about a good old steak the next time you go shopping?