Saturday, 13 December 2008

Saturated oils

I don't need to tell you that saturated fat is bad. Chances are that you've come across many vocal groups proclaiming polyunsaturated fats as 'good' and saturated fats as 'bad'. This is too simplistic. Any fat in excess is bad, especially polyunsaturated.

Saturated fat has been labelled a dietary monster causing {inset favourite disease here} and other untold health problems. Yet saturated fat has been a staple part of human diets for thousands of years but only recently had negative publicity – most probably profit motivated by those selling polyunsaturated products. Our ancestors lived on a diet rich in grease, lard and butter. It wasn't until the 20th century that vegetable oils (polyunsaturated) became widely available and with that has come a plague of degenerative diseases.

Polynesians and saturated fats

A study done on two populations of Polynesians, namely Pukapukans and Tokelauans on the effects of their dietary saturated fats showed some startling revelations. Pukapukans were getting 26-30% of their total calories from fats whereas Tokelauans were getting 47-49% of their total calories from fats.

Now since the Tokelauans were obtaining around seven times more calories from saturated fats than the 7% current 'healthy' guidelines recommend, one would have expected them to perish from strokes and coronary heart disease. However, contradictory to this the investigation found that vascular disease was uncommon in both populations. No evidence of high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect was found in these populations. Interestingly the rest of the Tokelauans' diet consisted of no refined sugars, no cereals and certainly no Mc Donald's – they were not eating junk!

Reference: Nigel Kinbrum's eBook and a whole host of links to great articles can be found here

Should you wish to read up on the study it can be found here

Health benefits of saturated oils

Saturated fat is needed for proper digestive function, growth, and is an essential component of every single cell in your body. Nature has infused this fat into almost all of the foods we eat, both plant and animal. Even polyunsaturated vegetable oils contain at least some saturated fats.

Lauric acid, the main fatty acid found in coconut oil has many viral and bacterial properties. It's also great for the skin when rubbed in.

Short and medium chain fatty acids may promote weight loss. They are metabolised rapidly without passing through the liver to provide a quick source of energy.

Health dangers of saturated oils

The most recognised danger of saturated fats is that it elevates your LDL (bad) cholesterol. It does also elevate your HDL (good) cholesterol but the net effect of the two is still negative. This cholesterol will block arteries, making it harder for blood to flow ultimately causing heart attacks (simplified extremely). Cholesterol is not the only thing that makes saturated fat less healthy. It has a bad effect on blood glucose levels and may cause diabetes. It also causes inflammation, which as Dr. Art Ayers blogs about causes many diseases.


In moderation and coupled with anti-oxidants I see no reason discourage the use of saturated fats. My personal favourite is extra virgin coconut oil which is not refined, bleached or deodorised.


Son of Grok said...

I am one of those people that believes in eating saturated fats. I do not believe saturated fat to be "bad fat". I get tons of good saturated fat from coconut and coconut oils. I look at this as a benefit.
The SoG

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

Love coconut oil and palm fruit oil myself.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I agree. I think that the typical US vegetable oils, corn and soy, are the dangerous ones.
By the way, I have found the Danish Food Composition Database very handy for fatty acid content:

Anonymous said...

I like your post. I think it was a nice balanced perspective on saturated fats. As for the polyunsaturated fats i only think they are bad if they contain trans fats.

Emmy Montez said...

check out this website for great coconut oil. I appreciate your discussion on saturated fats. This is something not many people know about.

nooree said...

I also started eating alot of saturated fat which is actually helping me in my thyroid and other general problems. It gives me a little extra energy eventhough I do not have my gall bladder. There are so many other factors that contribute to your diet if there is a problem in your arteries or heart. Saturated oils can not be the problem. People who are eating the unsaturated vegetable oils ( in frying food are the once who are in trouble) the vegetable oil becomes rancid when it comes in contact with oxygen. Sometimes the vegetable oil can be already rancid befor even the bottle is opened. It becomes even more problematic in digestion when it is heated. So we should avoid heating the vegetable oils and they will be ok. Coconut oil being saturated can be kept on room temperature for the longest and even in contact with heat it doesn't become toxic. Here is a link.
I am thrilled to find this site and I will never using coconut extra virgin, cold pressed oil for my thyroid fuctioning and to keep the pathogens ( fungus) away from the body. It is a miracle diet. I consume 2 to 3 tablespoon every day on the top of eating other food that have fat in them and also fish oil for vitamin A.

nooree said...

I am sorry I made a mistake. I was suppose to say I will never use vegetable oils and always use coconut oil now.For frying things peanut oil is best ( good when heated ) but it is not good for health.

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