The Low-Down On Saturated Fats

The Low-Down On Saturated Fats

Bring back the bacon and butter ladies and gentlemen! Saturated fats are back on the map. Well, they should’ve always been on the map. Except, a study from Ancel Keys wrongly portrayed how saturated fats linked to heart disease. To simply put it, he cherry picked the seven countries that supported his theory and forgot about the other twenty countries that didn’t support his theory.

Ever since then, government has touted that saturated fats were bad and it’s stuck around. It still blows my mind that people think fats make you fat. So, let’s talk about this. I started Thrival Nutrition to bring back ancestral roots in our diets. Our ancestors ate plenty of saturated fats from butter, fatty meats, milk, coconut products, etc. Heart disease was virtually nonexistent back in those days, so what changed?

The replacement of natural saturated fats with crap industrialized fats. Fat intake, particularly saturated fat, has been low because it was taught to us by doctors, nutritionists, etc. So why is obesity and heart disease STILL at an all-time high? In the Lancet, a study studied 3 groups of men. One ate high-carbs, the other high-protein, and the other was high-fat, out of all the diets the one that showed most fat loss was the high-fat diet. The high-fat diet was also more calorie dense. The whole calories in – calories out way of eating is debunked. It’s the kinds of foods you eat. We need to eat to support our cells.

Did you also know that there are tribes in Kenya, Arctic, and New Zealand that still eat plenty of saturated fats through fatty meats, dairy products, coconut products, and they virtually have no heart disease? I can’t express how important going back to how our ancestors ate will positively affect our health.

What Are Some Things That Give Saturated Fats A Bad Rap?

Saturated fat is believed to increase bad cholesterol, which is LDL. Let’s dig a little bit deeper. There are two types of LDL, a large one and a small one. The large one can be called Type A & the small one is called Type B. Did you know Type B is the one to be studied linking to heart disease? Did you also know what controls Type B LDL? Carbohydrates.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that carbohydrates should NOT replace saturated fats because refined carbohydrates are linked to lowering HDL cholesterol (“healthy” cholesterol), insulin resistance, increased triglycerides, and increased Type B LDL. So, why is the government recommending 45-60% of our diet should come from carbohydrates!?

Type B is so very very tiny that is easily is absorbed into artery walls compared to Type A which is larger and less likely to absorb. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that saturated fats actually helped Type B turn larger, so it doesn’t get absorbed in the artery walls. Good news for us!

Why Is Saturated Fats (And Fats In General) Good For Us?

Saturated Fats are essential to the human body. Saturated fats can actually help aid in the liver dumping fat cells. This is huge to help reduce middle-body fat storage. Another reason, why eating fat actually helps you lose weight and not gain weight. Saturated fats are very stable for storing and cooking in high heat. They are resistant to oxidization compared to unsaturated fats. For example, polyunsaturated fats easily oxidize and can actually become carcinogenic if heated to a certain temperature.

A quick science lesson about how saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats differ. Fats are all different by the length of carbon chains and hydrogens that are connected to the carbon. In saturated fats, all carbons are linked up to a hydrogen (they are saturated in them, hence the name). Monounsaturated fats only have one free carbon chain that doesn’t have a hydrogen & polyunsaturated has many carbon chains that don’t have hydrogen (hence, why they oxidize quickly).

Ok, back to why we should eat plenty of fats. Did you know lung surfactant is 100% of saturated fatty acids? So, if you try to replace this with something other than saturated fatty acids, you’ll eventually get poor lung functions. Dr. Eades taught about that and also taught about how all fats are so essential to our immune system.

Most of all, fat is a major energy source! Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that your body will run better on fat vs glucose, aid in appetite reduction, weight loss, and improve markers for cardiovascular disease. Fats are required to help absorb certain vitamins and minerals. Some examples are vitamins K, D, A. These are fat-soluble vitamins, so without fat, they are not able to be absorbed within the body. Saturated fats build cell membranes, sheaths around nerves, raise HDL (the healthy cholesterol), and provides satiety! Ever wonder why after eating a bowl of cereal you are hungry in a couple hours vs a fatty meal? Fat will help you stay fuller & more fulfilled.

A HUGE study that studied close to 350,000 people clearly showed that saturated fats do not have links to cardiovascular disease like we once believed. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also showed that saturated fats have no links to strokes either. Another study in the British Medical Journal showed that saturated fats are not associated with all cause mortality, CVD, strokes, diabetes 2, etc. Trans fats did show associations with those chronic diseases.

Don’t fall for products in stores that say “low-fat” because they are taking out the good stuff (aka fat) and filling it with the bad stuff (aka sugars) and sometimes even worse, ARTIFICIAL SUGARS. Thanks, but no thanks!

What Oils Should You Avoid & Which Ones To Use?

Coconut oil is hands-down my favorite. It’s so versatile with food, beauty products, and more! Avocado oil, flaxseed, olive, walnut, macadamia oils are all great! I suggest avoiding soy, corn, peanut, canola, vegetable, and other highly processed industrialized oils. All these bad oils are found in processed foods, so it’ll make it easier to avoid these franken-foods.

Aside from the scientific side about saturated fats, let’s take a step back and just realize that our great, great, great-grandparents and much further back knew what they were doing. Eating real, whole foods that are naturally made from animals and plants are essential in our diet. I love having science back up things that are natural foods, but we don’t even need it. We just need to trust our bodies, trust real food, and let nature take it’s course. Let’s take back ancestral roots and DON’T FEAR THE FAT.

Blessings,

Lahana

Lahana Vigliano
lahana@thrivalnutrition.com

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Thrival Nutrition. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and currently pursing her Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@thrivalnutrition).