This is a biggie as, like cholesterol and vegetable fats, the general consensus about saturated fat (animal fat) is so far removed from the hard facts.
I am not going to go in to too much of the bio-chemistry as I simply want to get the really important basic facts through: saturated fats are essential to health and DO NOT cause heart disease!
Please try and distance yourselves from the relentless message that saturated fats are deadly. Instead, consider the fact that nature puts fat through meat for a purpose: meat and fat consumed together allow the proteins in meat to be digested much better. The idea that the fat found in animal products is pure saturated fat is another misconception. Animal fats contain monounsaturated (most people think it’s only in olive oil) and unsaturated fats (not just nuts and seeds) as well as saturated fat. For example, pork tends to be around 10% omega 6 unsaturated fat and 34% monounsaturated fat – leaving only 56% as saturated fat.
Also, the reality is, saturated fats are absolutely essential to life:
- Saturated fat actually supports heart health. It reduces levels of something called lipoprotein(a). When this gets high your risk of heart disease increases. The only thing known to reduce levels of lipoprotein(a) is saturated fat. No drugs and no other food stuffs lower it the way saturated fat does.
- Saturated fat as well as other healthy fats increase levels of HDL which reduces the build up of plaque in arteries.
- Saturated fat is a major raw material for brain function.
- Saturated fat is found in every white blood cell (your immune fighter cells) and it is thought to be integral to these blood cells recognizing nasty invaders like viruses, bacteria and fungi.
- Saturated fats are involved in all your nerve signalling such as sending the message to the pancreas to release the correct amount of insulin to control your blood sugar levels.
Agghhhh, as I write there is an advert on TV for a spread …..”why is it so healthy mum?” ….. “because it contains even less saturated fat, son”. Yes, instead it contains a whole lot more cell damaging, inflammatory trans fats – hmmm, not so great.
As I was saying before I was so depressingly interrupted ….
– 100% saturated fat makes up the thin layer that coats the lungs (it is this that is lacking in Prem babies). If this fatty layer is made up of the wrong kind of fats, breathing difficulties can develop, air spaces in the lungs can collapse and it is thought that the high rate of childhood asthma could be related to lack of good quality saturated fats in the lung lining.
- Saturated fat is essential for liver health as it prevents a build up of fats in the liver and it offers protection to liver cells from toxic substances like alcohol and medications.
- Saturated fat is involved in bone health.
Now you may well be asking, why oh why have we been told saturated fat is so deadly when it is so essential to health? I won’t go into it now. If you really want to know, read up about a chap called Ancel Keys.
Meanwhile, start enjoying your fats. Make is good quality and unprocessed and your body will USE IT NOT STORE IT. So, go organic and free range as the composition of the fat is much healthier and consider the fact that toxins are stored in fat, so intensively reared animals fed antibiotics and hormones are not going to have very healthy fat.
Go for butter, not spreads. Cook with extra virgin coconut oil, organic butter, ghee, goose or duck fat. Don’t be afraid to enjoy good quality meat and up your egg in take – they are super healthy when free range.