The truth about saturated fats

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January is more than halfway over, and as you sit here and reflect on the first two weeks of 2013, chances are you've already ditched your new year's resolutions. Whether you planned to exercise more, learn tarot cards, stop answering the phone with “yo” or finally finish the zine you started two and a half years ago, chances are little effort has been put forth to actually go through with them. And while the previously mentioned resolutions are things I'd like to someday accomplish, whether or not 2013 is that someday is still in question (I have gone these two weeks without buying bread though!).

What I am pretty certain about is that most resolutions involve food, or to be more specific, the restriction of food, aka dieting.

Maybe as the sun rose into this new year you spent your hangover binging any of 2012's leftover ice cream while Googling low-fat recipes. And while it is a noble effort to take control of your health, the way in which the majority of dieters do it is misled. And that is because eating cholesterol and saturated fat is good for you.

The concept is hard to grasp for some, which is understandable considering popular nutrition has had us believe otherwise for over 100 years. The two biggest culprits of this deception are Proctor and Gamble and Ancel Keys.

Proctor and Gamble were originally candle and soap makers looking to get a head up in business. With the meatpacking monopoly controlling the price of the lard and tallow needed to make candles and soap, they looked elsewhere, teaming up with German chemist E. C. Kayser to develop hydrogenation. Adding hydrogen atoms to the fatty acid chain converted liquid cottonseed oil into a solid which resembled lard and also converted the fat into trans fat. But with the invention of electricity, candles weren't selling, so in 1911 Proctor and Gamble introduced the world to Crisco, the lard alternative with the slogan “It's all vegetable! It's digestible!”

Then in 1953, biochemist Ancel Keys published a paper titled “Atherosclerosis, a Problem in Newer Public Health.” In his paper he put forth the theory, known as the lipid hypothesis, that the intake of saturated fat caused heart disease. His theory was based on a study of six countries, all of which had saturated fat intake and heart disease levels that correlated. However, he ignored the data from 16 countries that didn't fit his theory. Data from all 22 countries showed no correlation.

Since then, the media has normalized the term “artery-clogging saturated fats.”

In short, I don't hate the grocery store by my work that has an entire wall of single-serving yogurt, none of which are full fat. It's not they're fault. (On my lunch break, I do hate them).

So saturated fats and dietary cholesterol aren't bad, but how are they good? According to Dr. Mercola:

“These (saturated) fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. When eaten as part of your meal, they increase satiety by slowing down absorption. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.”

Your body simply cannot function without saturated fats. The proper function of your cell membranes, liver, immune system, heart, lungs, bones, hormones and more rely on saturated fats.

So this year, ditch the cereal–with it's incredibly false “heart healthy” claim–and have a couple eggs for breakfast, replace vegetable oils with coconut oil, butter or lard*, choose whole, raw milk* over skimmed and don't fear the organ meats*!

Last but not least:

* from pasture-raised animals.