Foods high in saturated fat - the health benefits
Yes we are talking about eggs, organ meat, butter, lard and other animal products, as well as coconut oil and palm oil. All these foods high in saturated fat are healthy!
And their many health benefits are enjoyed by practically all of the body's organs and functions, including, surprise, suprise... the heart! Yes, no typing mistake here, the heart.
I first came across this assertion about four years ago (around 2005) when I visited the website of the Weston Price Foundation. My eyes were opened wide. I had been reading on health topics for 20 years and this was my greatest discovery ever.
Actually, I had come across the idea previously. But I dismissed it because I thought it just came from meat lovers trying to justify their enjoyment of meat, seafood and other foods high in saturated fat.
But when I read the various articles, particularly those by Dr Mary Eing and Sally Fallon, I saw that they were backed by solid scientific evidence and convincing arguments. Most of all, they were backed by thousands of years of traditional practice as people have, all along been eating foods high in saturated fat, without adverse effects.
Saturated fats have widely been blamed for causing heart disease. But as we have seen in Part I of this article about foods high in saturated fat, there is actually no conclusive scientific proof that saturated fats are to blame. In fact, there is actually strong evidence to suggest that the real culprits are the very fats that doctors and nutritionists recommend, the polyunsaturated fats.
But for now, let's learn more about the benefits of foods high in saturated fat...
Fuel - and protection - for the heart
|“The conclusion of an analysis of the history and politics behind the diet-heart hypothesis was that after 50 years of research, there was no evidence that a diet low in saturated fat prolongs life."
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2004
“In Frammingham, Massachusetts, 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.”
- Dr William Castelli, Leader of the Framingham Heart Study, writing in Archives of Internal Medicine, 1992
This is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated. During times of stress, the heart draws on this reserve of saturated fat.
Saturated fats also prevent heart lesions or tissue damage. In the 1970s, Canadian researchers studied rapeseed oil and canola oil, which they thought was the “ideal” fat rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
But they found that animals given exclusively canola oil developed heart lesions. When these animals were given saturated fats, they no longer developed heart lesions.
Foods high in saturated fat are commonly blamed for raising cholesterol levels. But they raise both the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol as well as the so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol.
I write "good" and “bad” between inverted commas because there is also controversy about whether cholesterol is really bad. Dr Uffe Ravnskov, a leading researcher on cholesterol and author of Fats and Cholesterol are GOOD for You, asserts that ALL cholesterol is good. This is discussed more fully in other articles about, why cholesterol is not harmful and why they are healthy.
Benefits of saturated fats - Cell integrity
Our cell membranes consist of 50 percent saturated fats! Adequate intake of fods high in saturated fats help ensure the stiffness and integrity of our cell membranes. This, in turn, protects our cells against virus attacks. Saturated fats enhance our immunity against diseases.
In modern societies, the cell walls of many people have been weakened by too much polyunsaturated fatty acids. And some contain as much as 20 percent trans fats, which are abnormal fat molecules that have been twisted out of shape due to high heat and high pressure in the creation of margarine and other partially hydrogenated fats. These cells are distorted and weak, making a person prone to infection.
Benefits of saturated fats - Killing harmful microorganisms
While they protect our cell walls, saturated fats destroy the cell walls of many harmful microorganisms, including virus, bacteria, fungi and parasites.
In particular, two groups of saturated fats the short-chain fatty acids and medium chain fatty acids work powerfully to destroy these organisms without causing any adverse side effects.
These short and medium chain fatty acids include lauric, capric and caprylic acids, and they are found abundantly in products like coconut oil, palm oil and butter as well as in human breast milk. Yes, human breast milk is also one of the foods high in saturated fats. It is the healthiest food for human babies.
In the Philippines, researchers found that lauric acid, and its extract, monolaurin, is effective in destroying the HIV virus that causes Aids. Caprylic acid is effective against candida, a fungi infection that is well-known for being extremely hard to treat, with pharmaceutical drugs for the condition causing very serious side effects.
Calcium and Vitamin D in preventing osteoporosis
Osteoporosis, the loss of calcium from the bones, has become a serious problem in modern societies. There are two aspects to solving this problem ensuring adequate calcium intake and calcium absorption, and preventing calcium loss.
For the body to absorb calcium effectively, at least 50 percent of the dietary fats should be saturated. In nature, this is automatically taken care of - because many foods rich in calcium, like milk, are foods rich in saturated fat.
But what do modern food producers do? They come up with strange, unnatural products such as ‘High-Low’ milk with high levels of calcium but low levels of saturated fats. Such formulations do not work! They merely cater to modern misconceptions about the supposed dangers of saturated fats.
Also needed for calcium absorption and bone health is Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin. This vitamin is found abundantly in animal organs such as the liver - which are again foods high in saturated fats.
Another important fat-soluble vitamin is Vitamin A. And what foods contain plenty of vitamin A? Again, foods high in saturated fat such as liver. Cod liver oil used to be popular as a food supplement. In nature, it is commonly observed that when animals kill their prey, they eat the liver first.
Talking about the liver... saturated fats protect the liver against toxicity from alcohol and certain pharmaceutical drugs such as Tylenol.
Benefits of saturated fats - Omega 3
In recent years, much attention has been focused on Omega 3, which is an essential fatty acid.Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 are said to be essential because they contribute to health and we have to take them from food. The body cannot produce these substances.
Among other things, adequate intake of Omega 3 and Omega 6 especially a correct balance between the two protects against heart disease and a host of other degenerative diseases. But Omega 3 is emphasised because it tends to be lacking in modern diets.
The thing is this... although Omega 3 is a polyunsatured fat, the body needs saturated fats for the utilization of Omega 3. Elongated omega-3 fatty acids the type most widely studied and found to protect the heart and impart other health benefits are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats.
Benefits of saturated fats - anti-allergyA team of researches from Finland reported in 2001 that children who developed allergies tended to eat less butter and more margarine. It was not the first to suggest that certain types of fatty acids may play a role in the onset of allergic diseases.
Polyunsaturated fats like those in margarine are thought to promote the formation of prostaglandin E2, a substance that promotes inflammation and causes the immune system to release a protein that triggers allergic reactions.There are many, many more benefits of saturated fats. I don't know them all and I don't think it is necessary to know. What is important to know, however, is that foods high in saturated fat are beneficial to health in many, many ways. They are not harmful.
The harm arises when people try become obsessed with the unproven dangers of saturated fats. They end up firstly avoiding foods high in saturated fat and, secondly, taking unnatural products like polyunsaturated fats that have already been damaged by heat, and margarine that contains deadly trans fats.