Tag Archives: omega 3

Saturated Fats: Why the Stink?

7 Feb

Saturated Fats: Why the Stink?

by Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

If you rely heavily on the mainstream media for your health information, you have undoubtedly heard some recommendations along this line: “You should limit (or eliminate) your intake of saturated fats, which have been shown to elevate your cholesterol and risk for heart disease.”

As your caped crusader for honest nutrition and health information, I’m here to share with you the truth about saturated fats, and how they can actually increase your overall health and decrease your waistline.

Why the stink about saturated fats? Indeed, a diet with high amounts of saturated fats can lead to increased cholesterol levels, and certain saturated fats have a positive correlation with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

HOWEVER, this is only the case when saturated fats are consumed in excess and out of balance with other unsaturated fats.

That’s right, recommendations to avoid saturated fat are misguided. Problems associated with saturated fat intake aren’t necessarily because of that type of fat by itself. As a matter of fact, excess body fat, a poor cholesterol profile, and increased cardiovascular risk all seem to occur when saturated fat intake is high and two other dietary conditions are present:

1. when the diet is also high in sugar and processed/refined carbohydrates; and

2. when the saturated fat intake is out of balance with unsaturates (i.e., monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).

Saturated fat appears to be fine when processed carbohydrate and sugar intake is low and when you also consume a healthy intake of unsaturated fat.

As a matter of fact, in his book “The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle,” well-respected nutritionist Michael Eades states that humans need saturated fats for the following reasons:

• Saturated fats reduce levels of a substance called lipoprotein (a), which is strongly correlated with heart disease. In essence, saturated fats can potentially lower your risk for cardiovascular disease in a way that no medication can.
• Saturated fats are required by your body to absorb calcium into your bones. If you’re struggling with bone density, and you’ve been told to follow a low-fat diet, there’s a good chance your bones are actually becoming more brittle.
• Research shows that including saturated fats in the diet encourages the liver to decrease its fat content. This is a huge physiological step in the blasting of belly fat. What’s more, saturated fats can protect the liver from toxins like alcohol and acetaminophen.
• Your lungs require adequate saturated fat for proper functioning. The lining of your lungs — called lung surfactant — is ideally composed entirely of saturated fatty acids.
• Here’s a real kicker. Your brain is predominantly made up of fat and cholesterol, and the majority of that fat is actually of the saturated variety. Skimp on the saturated fats, and your brain health will be compromised.
• Saturated fats, especially those found in butter and coconut oil, play a huge role in your immune system health. These fatty acids fortify your white blood cells, which are your army against foreign pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

If you need one final example of the significance of saturated fats, let’s turn to human breast milk. Human breast milk is plentiful in saturated fats — especially myristic and lauric acid, which play a critical role in immune function — and cholesterol. What’s more, research shows that the longer a mother lactates, the higher the amount of fat and energy content.

That’s all fine and dandy, but will any ol’ source of saturated fat do the trick? Most folks can get the proper balance of saturated fats by included portions of beef, butter, ghee, and cream (preferably from grass-fed sources), eggs (omega-3 enriched), and coconut oil.

Remember, it’s about balancing our fats. We have to balance our omega-3s and 6s (which are polyunsaturated fats) because too much of the latter — which is highly common in the Western diet — throws our body into inflammation overdrive. We also have to balance our polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats for optimal function. Just like with anything, extremes are no bueno in the world of dietary fats.

At the end of the day, it appears that saturated fats are necessary to obtain and maintain your ultimate body and health. Just don’t combine a diet low in unsaturated fat with one high in saturated fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates…unfortunately, that recipe sounds exactly like that of our modern North American diets.