Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Saturated Fat. Why We Should Be Eating More Of It.

For years we have been lead to believe that saturated fat was a major contribution to heart disease and obesity, leading to a move away from natural fat sources such as butter and lard. Replaced by "healthy" vegetable fats and margarines, the average Joe Soap followed doctors orders and threw away these "disease causing" fats in an attempt to avoid statins.

Today's evidence shows us that despite this move, never before has there been such a prevalence in heart disease and obesity with those on cholesterol medications at an all time high.

What are Saturated Fats?
Fatty acids are made up of the elements carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. The carbon elements can "bond" to other other carbon atoms by single, double or triple bonds. The more bonds, the less stable meaning a fat is more reactive or prone to oxidation or damage.

Saturated fats are made up of single bonds, they tend to take on a straighter shape chemically and are usually solid at room temperature.

Benefits of Saturated Fats: 

  • Structurally saturated fats are more stable than other fats. They are therefore ideal for cooking and less likely to become damaged due to overheating. 

  • Short and medium chain saturated fats such as coconut oil provide a quick source of energy. They are easily processed by the intestine meaning they are used quickly, meaning minimal storage as "fat". They also provide satiety and keep you fuller for longer than other energy sources. 
  • Saturated fats provide a source of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K. It is also required for absorption of these vitamins. 
  • Some saturated fats provide immunity promoting properties. Fats like those found in coconut oil have also been shown to provide anti-bacterial processes. 

Could the move away from saturated fats towards man made hydrogenated spreads and vegetable oils have contributed to, rather than reduced the risks of heart disease?

Modern research has shown that saturated fat may not cause heart disease at all and in fact the so called "heart healthy" vegetable oils we have been recommended have been the true coronary disease culprits.

While saturated fat continues to be vilified by many, nothing is being done to recognise the fact that a diet high in processed grains and carbohydrates  is contributing to growing obesity problems.

With the low fat diet slow to decline, a day when people no longer utter their dismay at "artery clogging" saturated fats still seems a long way off.

Which seems a pity. Butter tastes so good :)

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