The quick answer is no, saturated fat is definitely not as unhealthy as the mainstream media, doctors and even the USDA would like you to believe. There is simply no science to date to back up the claims that eating saturated fatty acids increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Interesting Fact: Think saturated fat clogs the arteries? Think again. An analysis of the fat in clogged arteries showed that only 26% of it was saturated…the rest was unsaturated, and half of that was the polyunsaturated variety!
Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fat
Put simply, the term saturated means that all of the available bonds in the compound are attached to a hydrogen molecule. This makes them very stable, and thus they remain solid at room temperature. Meat, dairy, butter are examples.
Conversely, unsaturated fatty acids have one (mono) or more (poly) double bonds between carbon atoms, leaving open spaces without hydrogen molecules. Thus, they are less stable than saturated fatty acids and tend to be liquid at room temperature.
Monounsaturated fats are still relatively stable (with only 2 hydrogen atoms missing), and as a result do not readily oxidize or get rancid. As such they are useful for cooking. Healthy nuts such as almonds, cashews and pecans fall into this category, as well as olive oil and avocados.
Polyunsaturated fats are much less stable than saturated fat due to the fact that there are 4 or more hydrogen atoms missing. This means they can oxidize very easily, and aren’t recommended for cooking as they shouldn’t be heated. Nonetheless, they are a necessarily part of our diet (as are saturated fats, as you’ll see below). Omega 3 fatty acids, which nobody downplays the importance of, are polyunsaturated fats that your body needs and cannot manufacture on its own, hence the term Essential Fatty Acids, or EFAs.
Without Saturated Fat Your Body Would Not Function
If you stopped your intake of fats 100% starting today, you’d be dead in no time at all. Sounds harsh? Well, it’s true. You absolutely need fats of all kinds in order to survive. But since this article focuses on the much-maligned saturated variety, let’s take a look at why you need them:
1. Half of the cell membranes throughout your body are composed of saturated fats. Without saturated fats, your cells wouldn’t survive.
2. Your brain is made up of mostly saturated fat. Your heart is surrounded by saturated fat. They protect your liver, coat your lungs, influence nervous system and enhance the immune system.
3. They lower levels of a certain lipoprotein(Lp-a) that is a known indicator of heart diease. No drug can do that.
4. They raise your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which helps balance out your overall cholesterol profile.
5. Your body cannot use calcium without saturated fat accompanying it. Guess what happens to your bones without calcium?
The list really does go on and on. The bottom line is your body absolutely needs saturated fats to survive and function. As much if not more so than the other varieties.
So does that mean I should load up on butter and meat?
Of course not…you really shouldn’t load up on anything. The old adage everything in moderation still applies. But what you should do is stop avoiding saturated fats because that’s what you’ve always been told.
They play a vital role in your health, as science has clearly demonstrated, so they should be a part of your everyday diet.
So are there any dangers of excess fat in the diet?
Yes, there are some things to be aware of. Excess polyunsatured fatty acids, due to their highly reactive nature, can cause a lot of problems. Nowadays our diets consist of a larger percentage of these fats than ever before, in the form of commercial cooking oils (corn, canola, etc.). As mentioned above, when they are heated or exposed to air they become highly reactive and potentially rancid, meaning they can do all sorts of damage to the body. As such they have been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and other health issues.
And no discussion of fats would be complete without mention of hydrogenated or trans fats. Hopefully you are aware that these should be avoided at all costs. In a nutshell, these are polyunsaturated fats chemically turned into solids, resulting in a dangerous compound that is actually taken into your body’s cells. Stay away from hydrogenated oils and trans fats!
Saturated and Unsaturated Food Options:
Here’s a quick guide to what you should incorporate and what you should avoid.
Saturated Fat – Provides energy, carries important nutrients, makes hormones and more. Present in healthy tropical oils, such as coconut, as well as vitamin and protein packed meat, milk, cheeses, butter etc. Most easily recognized and utilized by the body.
Monounsaturated Fat – Can lower LDL cholesterol and improve heart health. Olive oil (preferably extra virgin which is minimally processed), nuts (walnuts almonds, and pecans are tops), some seed, avocados are all good choices here.
Polyunsaturated Fat – Omega 3s, especially DHA and EPA, are the healthiest of these. Only fish oil provides DHA and EPA. ALA is available from flaxseed and other sources. Some vegetable oils fall into this category as well.
Featured Fish Oil Supplement
We have discovered a high quality fish oil supplement that we have been taking ourselves for quite some time now. It contains the highest levels of important polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
Unlike most fish oil supplements, this onecontains molecularly distilled fish oil esters, which is a purified form that is most readily absorbed in the body. It is also free of any contaminants because it is harvested from pristine, clean waters.
Take a look at this Omega 3 QH Ultra Fish Oil and see how it can improve your heart and general health today.
Featured Heart Healthy Supplement
We have also been taking a specially formulated product called Total Balance as our core nutritional supplement. It has replaced the poor quality multivitamin we had been taking for years.
There are a number of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients that play a role in improving cardiovascular as well as general health.
See for yourself how Total Balance with natural ingredients can lower cholesterol, reduce triglycerides (bad fats) and strengthen the heart and body.