Conventional medical authorities say that consumption of saturated animal fats is bad for you and causes heart disease.
But a hundred years ago, fewer than than one in one hundred Americans were obese, and coronary heart disease was unknown.
The Procter and Gamble started marketing Crisco as a new kind of food -- the first commercially marketed trans fat. Crisco was originally used to make candles and soap, but with electrification causing a decline in candle sales,
Procter and Gamble decided to promote the fat as a “healthier” all-vegetable-derived shortening
According to LewRockwell.com:
“Feeding high doses of fat and cholesterol to omnivores, like rats and dogs, does not produce atherosclerotic lesions in them ...
In fact, it turns out that people who have highest percentage of saturated fat in their diets have the lowest risk of heart disease ...
The last word on this subject should go to Julia Child ... Enjoy eating saturated fats, they’re good for you!”
The demonization of saturated fat began in 1953, when Dr. Ancel Keys published a paper comparing saturated fat intake and heart disease mortality. His theory turned out to be flimsy, to say the least, but the misguided ousting of saturated fat has continued unabated ever since. Fortunately, the truth is finally starting to come out, as medical scientists have begun to seriously question Keys' findings.
Time to Put Ancel Keys' Theory to Rest
Keys based his theory on a study of six countries, in which higher saturated fat intake equated to higher rates of heart disease. However, he conveniently ignored data from 16 other countries that did not fit his theory. Had he chosen a different set of countries, the data would have shown that increasing the percent of calories from fat reduces the number of deaths from coronary heart disease.
And, as illustrated in the featured article, when you include all 22 countries for which data was available at the time of his study, you find that those who consume the highest percentage of saturated fat have the lowest risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, many have now realized that it's the trans fat found in margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that is the true villain, causing far more significant health problems than saturated fat ever could!
Still, despite the scientific evidence, the low-fat dogma remains a favorite among most government health authorities. Case in point: the most recent food chart issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in December of last year, recommends reducing your saturated fat intake to a mere seven percent of caloric intake—down from its previously recommended 10 percent…
Newer Studies Debunk Keys' Theory
The USDA's lowered recommendation is illogical when you consider the evidence available today, which supports saturated fat as a necessary part of a heart healthy diet. For example, as discussed in the featured article, a number of indigenous tribes around the world are living proof that a high-saturated fat diet equates to low mortality from heart disease.
|Tribe||Primary Diet||Percentage Saturated Fat|
|Maasai tribe in Kenya/Tanzania||Meat, milk, cattle blood||66 percent|
|Inuit Eskimos in the Arctic||Whale meat and blubber||75 percent|
|Rendille tribe in NE Kenya||Camel milk, meat, blood||63 percent|
|Tokealu, atoll islands in New Zealand territory||Fish and coconuts||60 percent|
And then there's human breast milk, which contains 54 percent saturated fat. Since breast milk is the most perfect diet in existence for developing infants, the presence of high amounts of saturated fat cannot easily be construed as a "mistake."
- A meta-analysis published last year, which pooled data from 21 studies and included nearly 348,000 adults, found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat.
- In a 1992 editorial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. William Castelli, a former director of the Framingham Heart study, stated:
"In Framingham, Mass., the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person's serum cholesterol. The opposite of what… Keys et al would predict…We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active."
- Another 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a reduction in saturated fat intake must be evaluated in the context of replacement by other macronutrients, such as carbohydrates.
When you replace saturated fat with a higher carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrate, you exacerbate insulin resistance and obesity, increase triglycerides and small LDL particles, and reduce beneficial HDL cholesterol. The authors state that dietary efforts to improve your cardiovascular disease risk should primarily emphasize the limitation of refined carbohydrate intake, and weight reduction.
I believe that last point is very important, and is likely a major key for explaining the rampant increase in obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And once you can pinpoint the problem, turning it all around becomes that much easier.
Carbohydrates, Not Fat, is the Root of Obesity and Heart Disease
Heart disease is so common today, it's hard for people to remember that a mere 100 years ago, this disease was really uncommon. As Dr. Donald Miller writes in the featured article:
"There were 500 cardiologists practicing in the U.S. in 1950. There are 30,000 of them now – a 60-fold increase for a population that has only doubled since 1950."
Such an explosion of heart disease indicates that something has changed that is contributing to this epidemic.
What is that "something"?
Most likely, the studies that have linked the so-called "Western diet" to an increased heart disease risk simply confirm that sugar and refined carbohydrates are harmful to your heart health. Because although the Western diet is high in red and processed meats and saturated fats, it's also alarmingly high in sugar and refined carbs like bread and pasta. And, as concluded in the last study listed above, when you reduce saturated fat and increase refined carbohydrates, you end up promoting obesity, heart disease and diabetes...
Gary Taubes has also done an excellent job of explaining the connection between carbs and obesity and its related health issues in his book Why We Get Fat: and what to do about it.
In a nutshell, eating fat and protein does not make you fat—carbohydrates do.I firmly believe the two primary keys for successful weight management and reducing your risk for diabetes, heart disease and other weight-related health problems are:
- Severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) in your diet, and
- Increasing healthy fat consumption
According to last year's Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the top 10 sources of calories in the American diet are:
- Grain-based desserts (cakes, cookies, donuts, pies, crisps, cobblers, and granola bars) 139 calories a day
- Alcoholic beverages
- Yeast breads, 129 calories a day
- Pasta and pasta dishes
- Chicken and chicken-mixed dishes, 121 calories a day
- Mexican mixed dishes
- Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks, 114 calories a day
- Beef and beef-mixed dishes
- Pizza, 98 calories a day
- Dairy desserts
Looking at this list, it plain to see that CARBS—i.e. sugars (primarily fructose) and grains—are the primary sources of our weight- and health problems, not saturated fats.
(As an update, you've often heard me state that soda is the number one source of calories in the US diet, which it was—based on the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The updated NHANES survey above covers nutritional data from 2005-2006, placing grain-based foods in the top two slots. Still, soda comes in at number four, and I still believe a lot of people, particularly teenagers, probably get a majority of their calories from fructose-rich drinks like soda.)
The Different Types of Fat
Fats can be confusing, but you can generally divide fats into four types:
- Saturated fats, from animal fat and tropical oils
- Monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil
- Polyunsaturated fat, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fats
- Trans fats, such as margarine
Sources of healthy fats include:
Olives and Olive oil Coconuts and coconut oil Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk Raw Nuts, such as, almonds or pecans Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados Grass fed meats Palm oil Unheated organic nut oils
Another healthful fat you want to be mindful of is animal-based omega-3. Deficiency in this essential fat can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. For more information about omega-3's and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article.
Having the proper balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats is also very important for optimal health. So in addition to increasing your omega-3 (which most people are sorely deficient in), you also want to decrease your consumption of omega-6, found primarily in:
- Corn oil
- Soy oil
- Canola oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is 1:1, but the typical American diet is more like 1:20 in favor of omega-6. The overabundance of these oils in processed foods of all kinds explains our excess omega-6 levels.
The other fats you want to avoid are the trans fats. Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil during food processing in order to make it solidify. This process, known as hydrogenation, makes fats less likely to spoil, so foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and also have a less greasy feel. The end result of the hydrogenation process is a completely unnatural fat that causes dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level.
Your Body NEEDS Saturated Fat for Optimal Function
Saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a number of important health benefits. In fact, your body cannot function without saturated fats! Saturated fats are needed for the proper function of your:
Cell membranes Heart Bones (to assimilate calcium) Liver Lungs Hormones Immune system Satiety (reducing hunger) Genetic regulation
Healthy Fat Tips to Live By
So please remember, you do need a certain amount of healthy fat, while at the same time you'll want to avoid the unhealthy varieties. The easiest way to accomplish this is to simply eliminate processed foods, which are high in all things detrimental to your health: sugar, carbs, and dangerous types of fats.
After that, these tips can help ensure you're eating the right fats for your health:
- Use organic butter made from raw grass-fed milk instead of margarines and vegetable oil spreads. Butter is a healthy whole food that has received an unwarranted bad rap.
- Use coconut oil for cooking. It is far superior to any other cooking oil and is loaded with health benefits. (Remember that olive oil should be used COLD, drizzled over salad or fish, for example, not to cook with.)
- Following my nutrition plan will automatically reduce your modified fat intake, as it will teach you to focus on healthy whole foods instead of processed junk food.
- To round out your healthy fat intake, be sure to eat raw fats, such as those from avocados, raw dairy products, and olive oil, and also take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.