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A Big Fat Lie

For years we’ve all been lied to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was necessarily an intentional lie. But at the very least it was information presented as fact, while only offering part of the truth. And sadly, only offering part of the truth isn’t any better than an outright lie when it comes to our health.

The lie I’m referring to is the statement that saturated fats are bad for you.

When I tell people this is a lie, they often look at me as though I’d lost my mind. So if you had a similar reaction to this idea, I don’t blame you. But please hear me out and then decide for yourself.

The idea that saturated fats are bad for health comes from an error in defining exactly what saturated fats are. Here’s what I mean:

Saturated fats are a general category of fatty acids that we commonly consume. It’s a broad category of dietary fats including many different types of fats. For example, all of the following are saturated fats…

  • Short Chain Saturated Fatty Acids play a role in cellular energy production. They are easily digested and have numerous health benefits.The health benefits of short chain saturated fatty acids include reduction of inflammation (especially in Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis), increase of healthy mucosa in the digestive tract and better absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Medium-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids provide quick energy without the dangers of spiking insulin associated with carbohydrate loading. Medium chain saturated fatty acid health benefits include reducing ulcerative colitis, controlling detrimental bacteria (including H. pylori, Listeria and Staphylococcus), and they may also be helpful in preventing enlarged prostate.
  • Long-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids are the ones most associated with heart disease. Even so, they also help protect the brain against stroke, help prevent asthma and provide energy for protecting the heart. In addition, some long chain fatty acids support strong immunity against infections and increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A & D.

In general, saturated fatty acids are crucial components of cell membranes, important for bone health, and they even help prevent heart disease by lowering Lipoprotein A.

In other words, in spite of what you’ve heard, there are many health benefits from saturated fatty acids.

And this isn’t just my opinion. Here’s a quote from Dr. William Castelli, M.D., who was the director of the Framingham Study, one of the longest and largest heart disease studies in history:

“At Framingham, we found that the people who ate the most saturated fat, the most cholesterol and the most calories weighed the least, were more physically active and had the lowest serum cholesterol levels.”*

All of this means when you hear a blanket condemnation of saturated fats, you can automatically know that they are telling you at best only half truths.

A Side Note About Trans-Fats

Many people seem to equate saturated fats with trans-fat. Probably this is because both have historically been presented as dangerous for heart health. In fact, many studies lump the two together as if they were the same thing.

There are two things wrong with this association.

First, trans-fat is unsaturated fat. That’s the exact opposite of saturated fats.

Second, trans-fat is very closely associated with heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction, infertility and depression. Saturated fat is not associated with these except for oxidized long-chain fatty acids, which are associated with heart disease.

The bottom line is to avoid trans fat. See the article, The Truth About Deadly Trans-fats for more about how to avoid it.

Sources of Healthy Saturated Fatty Acids

There are many good sources of healthy saturated fatty acids. These include:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Whole Milk
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Grass-fed Beef

When you find your ideal balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and include sufficient healthy saturated fats in your diet, you will be supporting your health, not injuring it.

You can see now why the idea of saturated fats being unhealthy is just a big fat lie…

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

Dr. Bruce

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References:

Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.

The Proven Health Benefits of Saturated Fats, Mary Enig, PhD & Sally Fallon

Trans Fat, Wikipedia Listing

* Quote appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine, July 1992.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Biomagnetic TherapyMarch 15, 2011, 11:15 am

    An excellent example of how the details often get lost or confused when it comes to health and nutrition. Everything has its role to play in maintaining a healthy body, and this idea that if something is found to be bad in one regard, or in too large a quantity, then it needs to be completely removed, is ludicrous. People want things to be black and white, and all or none – and that it is rarely how things work when it comes to biology and physiology. Unfortunately, the advertising industry doesn’t help, as it feeds into this pattern of oversimplification.

  • Dr. BruceMarch 15, 2011, 11:44 am

    Yes, indeed. As they say, “The Devil is in the details.”

    Whenever we read anything about the latest health study, it’s always important to look underneath the hood and figure out what the study actually proved.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    Dr. Bruce

  • KarenMarch 25, 2011, 9:13 am

    Ha! I read this article while eating a big, fat piece of Havarti cheese! And I do feel better now! LOL

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