Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What you know is wrong - Saturated Fat is Good for you

imageOne of my diet tenets is that the closer your food is to nature, the better is is for you. Almost everything I eat is meat and produce—very little of what I eat has a label or packaging.
The same appears to be true about dietary fats. Hydrogenation, the chemical process that creates oils that are spreadable at room temperature (e.g., margarine), creates trans fats and saturated fats. The former is horrible for you, the latter may be good for you; lazy science has lumped them together in our collective consciousness.
I believe that fats out of nature (animal fats and unadulterated vegetable oils) are good for you.
Here’s a well-cited article on saturated fats http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html:
You've no doubt noticed that for about the last 60 years, the majority of health care officials and the media have been telling you saturated fats are bad for your health and lead to a host of negative consequences, including high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Meanwhile during this same 60 years, the American levels of heart disease, obesity, elevated serum cholesterol and Alzheimer's have skyrocketed.
Did you know that multiple studies on Pacific Island populations who get 30-60 percent of their total caloric intake from fully saturated coconut oil have all shown nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease?
The fact is, all saturated fats are not created equal.

Here’s another well-cited paper, Saturated Fat is Good For You http://www.spacedoc.com/saturated_fat_is_good_for_you_1 (quote from part 2—debunking the “fat is bad for you” study that is still oft-cited):
Ask any scientist in this area to list the names of those who have created the diet-heart idea and nine out of ten probably put the name Ancel Keys on the top.
One of his first contributions in this area of science was a paper from 1953 where he stated that heart disease was caused by too much fat in the diet. As an argument he used a diagram showing the association between fat consumption and heart mortality in six countries. It looked very convincing, because all observations were in accord.
On top were  the figures from the US; at the bottom those from Japan. In the US people ate five times more fat than in Japan, and heart mortality was fifteen times higher. The data from the other countries lay all between forming a beautiful curve starting in the lower left corner and ending in the upper right.
But Keys' paper was a fake. At that time information was available from twenty-two countries. This is what two American scientists revealed four years later. Their conclusion was clear: "The apparent association is greatly reduced when tested on all countries for which data are available instead of the six countries used by another investigator."
And finally, some anecdote. When you go on a diet, when you eat fewer calories than you burn, your body will be forced to digest fat—that’s why we usually diet, because we want to get lean. If you lose 2.2lbs/1kg of fat per week (a reasonably healthy and sustainable rate), you’re burning 9000 calories of fat per week (fat has 9 cal per gram), or 1285 calories of fat per day. In other words, half of your daily calories can come from burning saturated animal fat—the blubber on your belly and ass.
If saturated fat is so bad for us, why would our bodies have evolved to use it as an reliable source of long-term energy storage? If our evolutionary ancestors were in a period of famine and they had to use up their fat stores, surely those who couldn’t handle the fat would have died from saturated-fat-induced heart disease (if the famine didn’t kill them first). The fact is, we’re here because those who could successfully process the fat survived. I reckon our bodies can handle fat better than we’ve been led to believe.
Happy eating! Enjoy that coconut, avocado, and grass-fed steak.

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