Come again ? Saturated fat ? Yes, honest, it's OK .
For years we have been fed the mantra 'fat is bad'. Fortunately, the message is now getting out that it's starchy carbohydrates (like sugar and food made from refined grains) that are the real wolf in sheep's clothing, fuelling weight gain, inflammation and with it a host of other health issues.
The new message is that fat is fine , but only if it's the 'good' fat - the unsaturated kind that we find in fish , avocados, olive oil and nuts.
Saturated fat intake is still bad, a food to be ruthlessly controlled or eliminated if possible.
Er, well .... no .
Natural saturated fats like those found in eggs, butter, meat, cream and cheese are not the root of all evil (Unlike artificial hydrogenated fats which can still lay claim to that title).
Saturated fat from natural sources is vital to our wellbeing.
It makes up 50% our our cell walls.
Most of the fatty acids in the brain are actually saturated so a low intake can affect brain function.
Lungs need saturated fat to help us breath well and bones need it to absorb calcium effectively.
Saturated fat is also loved by the liver which uses it to clear out fat and neutralise toxins.
Saturated fat plays a key role in heart health. Yes, you read that right . Saturated fat helps reduce a substance called lipoprotein (a) that has a strong link with the risk for heart disease. The link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease is rapidly becoming discredited.
Weight loss is helped by the intake of saturated fat. Fat makes you feel fuller quicker so eating fat can help you say no to that pudding or extra portion. Research has shown that when women diet, those who eat the greatest percentage of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat, lose the most weight.
Now, you can have too much of a good thing , so before you smash the olive oil , kick that avocado into touch , chuck the salmon back at the fishmonger and order a whole cow for your freezer, like everything else in life, it's a balance. Make sure your diet has a range of fats, both saturated and unsaturated for good health.
Still not convinced ? Consider this.... during the short time that we have significantly reduced our intake of animal fat and cholesterol, numerous diseases have increased at a terrifying rate. We are fatter than ever , the rate of Type 2 diabetes is on what seems an unstoppable upward climb, and the age at which its diagnosed is getting younger and younger. Chronic Inflammatory diseases are on the rise . A coincidence ?
So , stop pushing the butter away and saying no to that steak that you really wanted instead of the chicken or fish dish you chose. Saturated fat can be your new BFF....
1. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss, Am J Clin Nutr (Jan 2010) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract
2. A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women
Bonnie J. Brehm, Randy J. Seeley, Stephen R. Daniels, and David A. D’Alessio
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (Jan 2009)