Our body needs fat from food. It’s a major source of energy. It helps you to absorb some oil-soluble vitamins and minerals and it’s the fuel of human metabolism, brain, nerves and body. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and regulating inflammation.
For long-term health, some fats are better than others. Good, high-quality fats contribute to better cognition, better memory, faster learning and greater resistance to stress and depression.
Saturated fats have had a bad reputation for more than 50 years (read more). Now there’s another new study among many others, cleaning up the reputation of saturated fats. Norwegian diet intervention study (FATFUNC) published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, study leader assistant Prof. Simon Nitter Dankel and colleagues have questioned and overturned the dietary theory that saturated fat is unhealthy for most of the population. It has been claimed that the consumption of saturated fats can lead to levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood that may raise the risk of heart disease, but there has always been a lack of evidence for this.
Saturated fats are usually found in animal-based foods including meat and dairy products such as red meat, cheese and butter.
Dankel and his team randomly divided 46 men, with abdominal obesity, into two groups. The other group consumed very high–fat, low-carbohydrate diet and the other very low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks. The diets were equal in energy and protein. Diets were based on low-processed, lower-glycemic foods including high amounts of vegetables and rice instead of flour-based products. Fat mass in these two groups was quantified with computed tomography imaging.
Here’s why saturated fat is not as unhealthy as you probably think by The Huffington Post.
One of the big misleading studies in the 1950s and ’60s was about oxidised cholesterol and not the cholesterol itself. The sick brain seems to have, according to the recent studies, a severe lack of cholesterol. Evidence shows that elderly people actually benefit from high cholesterol and the high cholesterol are scientifically connected to a long lifespan and memory functioning while low cholesterol has been associated with poorer memory, lower scores on abstract reasoning, attention and concentration, verbal fluency and executive function. Science has also managed to prove that the new synapses in the brain require cholesterol, that sleeks the cell membranes together and by doing so enables the signals easily go through the synapses. Cholesterol also helps the fast information transfer in the brain. In other words, cholesterol enhances the right function and communication in the brain. Cholesterol also functions as an antioxidant in the brain and is a precursor of vitamin D, which is also a very strong tame for inflammation.
The problems occur when the cholesterol is oxidised. This can happen for example when vegetable oils are used for cooking and produce oxidised cholesterol. The body treats oxidised cholesterol and other oxidised fatlike invading bacteria. Also, extra glucose (from sugar, carbohydrates or excess protein) that can not access into the cells because of the insulin resistance, can oxidise the LDL-cholesterol making it a “bad LDL” through LDL glycation (hence it’s a protein!). According to Dr David Perlmutter, the LDL cholesterol is not actually “bad cholesterol” at all like told, but a very important carrier protein that carries vital cholesterol into the brain and states an important role for example in Alzheimer’s disease. LDLs can turn dangerous when under oxidative stress. (6,7,8,9,10)
The Norwegian study authors not only observed no significant rise in LDL cholesterol, but they also found that the high-fat diet was only associated with an increase in “good” cholesterol levels.
The reputation has been cleaned up
The latest research shows that along with healthy monosaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil and avocados, unsaturated omega-3s such as fish oil, flax oil and raw nuts, also saturated fats such as in butter are healthy and important for the body and brain.
The last In 2010 a meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, tracked for an average of 14 years, concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke.
A similar study in Japan published in 2010 followed 58,000 men for an average of 14 years and found no association between saturated fat intake and heart disease and an inverse association between saturated fat and stroke (i.e. those who ate more saturated fat had a lower risk of stroke).
In 2014 Time Magazine, known for accepted conventional medical advice, declared that science had been incorrect in a cover article called “Eat butter: Scientists labelled fat the enemy. They were wrong” (June 12, 2014). It’s actually the excess carbohydrates that are the real culprit in heart disease and obesity, not dietary fat.
Even The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals, commends the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for drafting a strong, evidence-based new recommendations for Americans (done every 5 years). These guidelines have far-reaching influences across the food supply, including American schools, government cafeterias, the military, food assistance programs, agricultural production, restaurant recipes, and industry food formulations as well as a worldwide statement.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics new guidelines in a very short summary:
1. The concern about the dietary cholesterol from nutrients is groundless.
2. The concern about saturated fat from nutrients is groundless.
3. The restriction for “normal” sodium consumption is groundless. (Western diet is loaded with salt, though!)
4. The main concern is sugar.
Also, this latest study run by Prof. Simon Nitter Dankel and his colleagues came to a conclusion that the saturated fat did not influence visceral fat or metabolic syndrome as long as the diet followed a low-processed and low sugar dietary context.
So it’s all about the quality of the food! A great symphony of different foods, colours and flavours. All bringing their own unique nutrients that we as human beings need to stay healthy and vibrant. Refined and processed fats and sugars are the ones to cut out. Healthy saturated fats can be found in grass-fed meat, organic or pasture-fed butter, ghee, eggs, yoghurt, coconut and coconut oil.