My apologies for the overlap/redundancy between these articles. I’m sure someday I’ll become or hire a professional to awesome-ify all of this, until then, enjoy part 3-ish of my series on fats.
2) Saturated fats research equates unhealthy and healthy versions of saturated fat
3) Saturated fat research lumps saturated fat eaters and refined/packaged/fast-food eaters
4) Amount of fat intake doesn’t actually connect to weight, BMI, or CHD risk.
5) Conclusive statement
6) Another reason why this whole fat thing is so important
I know half of this blog so far has to do with my view on fats. That is mostly because I think a) nutrition is important, and b) the general view on health and fat intake is wrong, thus affecting peoples’ ability to eat healthfully.
I wanted to explain in a nut shell why the prevailing view on fats/saturated fats and health is wrong, so here we go…
Start with saturated fats being bad for you–i.e. give you heart disease and various other problems.
The research supporting this claim is fundamentally flawed. This becomes obvious when we realize that a man eating a twinkie is lumped in the same category as the man eating pasture-raised beef-fat. One being combined with all sorts of chemicals, preservatives, almost no nutrients, and the other being combined with fat-soluable vitamins, omega-3s, a different fatty acid composition, and all of the wonderful nutrients inherent in eating an animal which has eaten its natural diet (grass in this case). We equate coconut oil or farmer’s butter from his own pasture-grazing cows with both the industrial meats and eggs of sick, tortured birds.
We now know it is quite incorrect to equate these as they contain entirely different amounts of nutrients and chemicals. For a simple demonstration, just crack open an egg from the store and then crack open an egg (if possible) from a neighbor’s chickens, the difference is astounding if you’ve never seen it. The deep orange color indicates health and dense nutrients to nourish the body. The numbers may or may not be significant in relation to official RDA, but it seems that having a complex of natural nutrients, even in small amounts, the natural balance would serve the body beyond what one might expect by running the numbers.
Another problem, alluded to earlier, is that when we say “saturated fat”, from a research perspective, we also often mean preservatives, fast food, refined carbohydrates, and the lifestyle of a person who doesn’t know or follow the recommended dietary guidelines. That is, we’re proving that people who eat refined and packaged foods (which are often high in saturated fat), are unhealthy–and I think the blame on saturated fat itself is mistaken.
Second, there is a general view that independent of the kind of fat, more fat is worse, it makes you fat. Not so. Looking into actual metabolic biochemistry, it seems insulin spikes have more to do with storing fat and being hungry than intake of fat ever has. Fat intake has a strong effect on decreasing hunger and slows digestion–actually decreasing the insulin spikes which encourage fat deposition. Rather, liberal fat intake with a meal of complex carbs, vegetables, and proteins will ensure that metabolism is even, nutrient and calorie intake is more gradual, hunger is effectively decreased and calories are properly used rather than rapidly stored.
An interesting caveat is that in the epidemiologic research proving the horrors of fat intake–the highest fat intake was found in the countries with both the highest and lowest rates of heart disease. Specifically, at the time of the multi-country study on diet and particularly fat, crete had the lowest rates of CHD and finland had the highest. Both shared, I believe, an ~40% fat intake.
I should mention again as I have elsewhere, I do not at all defend intake of trans-fat, that stuff is unequivocally bad for you, and almost exclusively created by an unnatural process.
My overarching view, which I’ve implied strongly but never directly stated above, is that a saturated fat is as healthy as the food surrounding it. I try to avoid butter which is not from pasture-raised cows, and to a greater extent I avoid both red meat and poultry raised in ways which make them sick, unhappy, and unhealthy to eat (i.e. the way 90% of our food is raised these days). If you can’t afford the good stuff, then you honestly are better off eating more of a vegetarian-type diet. Eat avocados, coconut, cold-pressed olive oil (other foods without fat if you so desire), but leave out the bovine growth hormone and save some karma points.
Another reason why this whole fat thing is so important:
Releasing the taboo against fat and saturated fat, we simultaneously free ourselves from the puritanical/religious guilt of enjoying what we eat. It does seem the ‘if it feels good, it’s bad for you’ view has crept into our research of what is and is not healthy and has us still today saying that if only we could cull our nasty joy-mongering lower instincts, we too can have a wonderful life of heath and attractiveness.
It seems that letting go of the “fats are bad” myth would require also accepting simple enjoyment as a worthwhile factor in right living. Which may be a surprisingly hard fact to swallow.
So, still eat those veggies, but with some pasture-raised unpasteurized butter–lots of it–and don that big grin of a person guilty of indulgence in simple pleasures. Call it an act of yielding to the wisdom of nature or possibly call it an act of rebellion. Either way, enjoy it! Hopefully for the sake of joy itself, but even still if only for the fact that joy also seems to be healthy.
Happy Thanksgiving 😀