We’ve already covered why eating fat doesn’t make you fat, but let’s talk specifically about saturated fats today.
Saturated fats have gotten a bad rap over the past few decades, but are they really as dangerous as we have been led to believe? I don’t think so. Call me crazy, but I have a hard time believing that eating a fresh coconut can possibly lead to heart disease or cancer, even if it is brimming with saturated fat!
In fact, according to Julia Ross, author of The Diet Cure, going low-fat has had no beneficial effect on women’s rates of heart disease, stroke, or cancer.
Many experts would actually argue that saturated fats aren’t the problem, it’s the high omega-6 vegetable oils that are. (Especially the hydrogenated ones!) In the 1990s, it was conclusively proven that hydrogenated vegetable oils (a.k.a. “trans fats”) cause heart disease, not saturated fats.
Another 2010 study also confirms that saturated fat is innocent, concluding that there is no association between saturated fat and risk of heart disease or stroke.
I have a feeling it will take some time before saturated fat is able to shed its “unhealthy” stigma, so here are a few reasons why I believe it’s actually good for us:
1. Saturated fats are uniquely resistant to heat and rancidity. Cooking in high-heat can toxify most vegetable oils (even olive oil!), while saturated fats, like butter and coconut oil, will hold up during the cooking process, without creating dangerous carcinogens. This is why I will ONLY cook with grass-fed butter or coconut oil.
Save your cold-pressed olive oil for dressing salads, or for drizzling over cooked veggies just before serving.
2. Saturated fats are essential for proper nutrient absorption. Vitamins A, D, and E cannot be absorbed into our bodies without saturated fats acting as a carrier, nor can calcium. [source]
This is why I recommend eating some fat with your leafy greens! Cooking your spinach in a bit of butter or coconut oil actually increases the calcium your body absorbs. Olive oil also contains a bit of saturated fat, making it a perfect salad topping. Grass-fed butter is surprisingly packed with nutrients, including 10 vitamins, 10 minerals, and 18 amino acids!
3. Saturated fats are more satisfying, and help curb cravings. Saturated fats are great for energy, converting slowly and steadily into cellular fuel as needed, keeping our blood sugar levels stable. Cravings for starchy carbohydrates and sugar are reduced as a result!
4. Saturated fats may boost metabolism and aid weight loss efforts. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that medium-chain fatty acids, like those found in coconut oil, were three times more effective at raising the metabolism than long-chain fatty acids. [source]
The following study provides a great argument for the benefits of coconut oil, too. (And an even better reason to avoid processed soy and corn!)
In the 1940s, a group of farmers attempted to “fatten up” their cows by feeding them dietary fat (in the form of coconut oil). To their dismay, the cows actually became leaner! Eventually, they found that a diet of soy beans and corn– which converts to sugar in the body– suppressed the thyroid and caused the animals to fatten up without even eating as much food. [source]
Despite the benefits stated above, this is not an excuse to start binging on bacon and butter. When consuming fat, I believe quality is very important! Especially when it comes to animal fat, choose organic, pasture-raised products whenever possible. Body fat is where we store toxins that shouldn’t come into contact with our essential organs, so the more toxic the environment that the animal was raised in, the more toxins we are likely to consume in their stored body fat. Grass-fed butter and meats are best. In regards to coconut oil, look for organic and pure extra-virgin labels. The same goes for olive oil!
Fragile vegetable oils, like canola, soy, corn or cottonseed, are often processed and are not recommended. Vitamin E is usually removed from these oils to produce their attractive golden color, but this processing causes rancidity, and eating rancid oils damages cells and encourages abnormal cell growth. [source] These cheap oils are also deodorized, so that we can’t discover the rancidity! Yuck.
Reader Feedback: Have you been scared of eating saturated fats? If so, are you more likely to eat them now?