Saturated Fat Not the Villain We Thought It Was?
Most people steer clear of saturated fat at all costs. Too much red meat, too much dairy, fatty bacon, and greasy burgers are a one way trip to heart failure, right? It is much healthier to have a diet full of whole grains, legumes, and lean meat, right? Well, the true answer may not be that simple at all. The fact of the matter is that we have been conditioned since the middle of the twentieth century to believe that saturated fat is responsible for clogged arteries and heart disease when there is very little evidence to support such claims.
During the 1950’s, the Seven Countries Study was conducted by Ancel Keys to determine the correlation, if any, between diet and the rising amount of cardiovascular disease in America. As the name suggests, seven separate countries throughout the world were surveyed for the amount of fat consumed compared to the amount of deaths related to heart disease.
Americans topped the list for highest fat consumption and highest amount of heart disease among the seven countries. The Japanese survey showed that their people ate the least amount of fat and had the least amount of deaths related to heart disease. This was the beginning of the vilification of saturated fat.
The problem with all of this was the blind acceptance of the Seven Countries Study and other flawed studies. Other determinants were completely ignored, control groups were not set up properly, and participants failed to complete the entire length of the study. The correlation between saturated fat and heart disease was only assumed despite the lack of any clinically proven studies.
The truth is that there have been, and currently are, cultures that live entirely off of foods full of saturated fat and exhibit virtually no heart disease. The Masai, for instance, are a nomadic tribe in Kenya and Tanzania.
Their diet consists of whole milk, red meat, and blood from herded cattle. You would probably assume the majority of their people are obese or, at least, stricken with widespread heart disease. This could not be further from the truth.
Their culture was free of heart disease and had the lowest level of cholesterol ever recorded.But, how could this be true is saturated fat is SO bad for you?
Well, what is Saturated Fat?
This section is going to have a bit of science in it, but it is the worth the read if you are truly interested in living the healthiest lifestyle for your personal goals. Saturated Fat (SFAs OR Saturated Fatty Acids) gets its name due to the fact that all of its carbon bonds have a hydrogen atom attached to them.
This is the opposite of a polyunsaturated fatty acid which is known for having multiple pairs of double bonds without a hydrogen atom occupying the opening space. Because there are no openings in the SFA bond, they are able to avoid spoilage and rancidity. This also makes them heat resistant and shelf stable.
The saturated fat molecule is actually essential to many of our bodily functions. About fifty percent of our cell membranes are composed of saturated fats that contain important fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins D, A, and K2. Many people have opted to get these vitamins through supplements, but the truth is that vitamins are not fully absorbed through pills. The best way to get the maximum absorption of vitamins is through real food.
This begins a compelling argument in favor of consuming saturated fats.Besides providing essential vitamins to our body, saturated fat is a great and natural source of energy. When eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and abstaining from negative vices, saturated fat becomes what it should be; a key energy source.
It’s when we flood our bodies with alternative energy sources for an immediate boost that saturated fat becomes stored as body fat. This body fat never gets burned off for one reason or another, whether it’s lack of exercise or the flood of unhealthy energy sources such as coffee and too much sugar.
The point of all of this is simple. Saturated fat will work wonders for us if we allow our bodies to function as nature intended. It may take a while to adjust to a routine that includes regular exercise and a healthy diet that doesn’t include flooding the system for an immediate response.
Once we start this new and healthy routine, saturated fat will act as a balanced, natural energy source.Saturated Fat VS CarbohydratesBoth saturated fat and carbohydrates need to be examined when discussing their individual effects on health. Saturated fat is associated negatively with cholesterol levels, while carbohydrates are associated negatively with triglyceride levels. However, the fallacy in the previous statement exists in the fact that saturated fat doesn’t harm the body, even if it does raise cholesterol.
When talking about cholesterol, you need to review both LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. Saturated fat does, in fact, raise LDL cholesterol. However, it raises HDL cholesterol substantially more.
HDL generally negates the LDL cholesterol. Because of the excess HDL cholesterol that is left after the LDL is negated, it can be said that consuming saturated fat is healthy! As long as you consume a higher proportion of HDL cholesterol, saturated fat will always benefit you. It will actually lower your chance of heart disease.Consuming foods high in saturated fat actually decrease the amount of saturated fat in your blood.
This is because the saturated fat in your blood is obtained from both your liver and the food that you consume. If you indulge on carbohydrates, your insulin levels will climb and cause your liver to produce more saturated fat.
Alternatively, a low-carb and higher fat diet will cause insulin levels and saturated fat levels to drop off in the blood levels.Carbohydrates are responsible for elevated triglyceride levels, which are just as bad for you as LDL cholesterol in terms of heart disease. It has been well documented that, since the 1970’s, men in America have increased carb intake by 23 percent while decreasing saturated fat intake by 14 percent.
The blaring red flag with this statistic is the fact that obesity and heart disease have climbed substantially in the subsequent years. It is clear that it is carbohydrates, not saturated fat, which has caused the increase in poor health.Tying It All TogetherIs saturated fat bad for you? Is saturated fat healthy? Well, if you read the entirety of this article, you would know that saturated fat can be extremely healthy for you when consumed correctly.
Improperly vilified and glorified by the media as a leading cause of heart disease, this vitamin-packed and energy producing fat hasn’t been given a fair shot. The studies that “prove” that saturated fat directly leads to heart disease (and death) have been full of errors. Participants have fallen off track with their diets, other substances that could cause disease have been introduced, control groups have been contaminated, and cross sections have been way too small to prove anything substantial.
And yet, it is these same studies that we have based our banishment of saturated fat on.When talking about overall health, balance is the key. Too many carbs or too much saturated fat will probably yield unexpected problems in one way or another.
A balance of a proper healthy diet, exercise, anaerobic training, family, friends, and fun is the true key to a long lasting and healthy life. A great way to achieve this is to find a diet that incorporates the entire lifestyle. The American Paleo Diet is one such lifestyle. Its goal is to get people to start living and eating in the same way our ancestors did when there wasn’t any of the disease that has become rampant over the past few centuries.
The American Paleo Diet will have you eating veggies, fruits, eggs, meats, seafood, and nuts. Just about anything that is natural is on the menu. You’ll be abstaining from anything that is processed or doesn’t occur in nature in one way or another.
If you’re really worried about your health, then it’s definitely worth it to give this a try.Not many people like to change their habits. It has been told to us again and again how “bad” saturated fat is for our bodies. However, our bodies do need these fats in order to live a long healthy life. It is up to us to do the research, find the facts, and spread the news so that we can get rid of disease that we bring on ourselves and provide a better future for our children.Also check nutrisystem lean 13