SOME FAT FACTS
Saturated fat isn’t the heart-clogging poison the media would have us believe. We ask a few top nutritionists to help us separate fact from fictions.
We all remember ourselves and our parents when we were younger never thinking twice about eating foods that were loaded with saturated fats. We drank milk out of bottles that had cream on the top, we ate whole eggs for breakfast, and enjoyed meat at dinner almost every day and we all led normal, healthy lives without the modern-day adverse health consequences attributed to FAT!
Despite all the warnings we hear today about saturated fat and its damaging effects on our hearts we find that cardiovascular disease is more prevalent than ever in our history.
We contacted three highly trusted nutritionists and asked for their best advice on saturated fat.
If saturated fat isn’t the cause of heart disease, what is?
BOWDEN: “There’s no single cause of heart disease, but there are number of major promoters, and I believe the main ones are inflammation, oxidative damage, stress and sugar. Toxins and viruses may play a role as well.”
Without inflammation, there is no plaque – which is, after all, an attempt by the body to “patch up” an injury. A British study done in 2012 suggests that the hormonal effects of stress – namely, chronically elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol – have multiple effects on the body, all of them damaging and some of them directly related to heart health.”
While fat has got a bum rap, the real villain in the Australian diet is sugar – and foods that convert to sugar almost instantly, such as processed cereals, pastas and breads. It was never fat that was killing us – it’s been sugar all the time, and we’re consuming record amounts of it, unprecedented in human history.”
If someone is battling heart disease, should he be concerned about his saturated fat intake?
NADOLSKY: “The major issue to watch would be a caloric excess. Going wild on saturated fats isn’t advisable, but if the overall diet is healthy, there’s no outright reason for most people to avoid them.”
How did saturated fat get such a bad rap?
BOWDEN: “In the middle of the 20th century, there was a perceived epidemic of heart disease. I say “perceived” because many analysts have since looked at the data and questioned it; but the fact is that men were returning from World War II with signs of heart disease and rates were higher than they had been. Ancel Keys (a researcher) had investigated the Mediterranean diet and was convinced that the reason people (in that region) were healthier was because they ate less saturated fat. (In 1958) he began the Seven Countries Study – the first of its kind look at the influence of diet and lifestyle factors on heart disease; it purported to show a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat in the diet and the rate of heart disease.”
Keys was extremely persuasive and managed to get himself a position on the American Heart Association’s advisory committee and the “diet-heart hypothesis” was born – that is, the theory that saturated fat and cholesterol contribute to heart disease. But recent researchers has exonerated saturated far. A 2009 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 21 studies on saturated fat in the diet and hard “end points” such as heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. After analyzing the combined data, the authors decided, “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or CVD (cardiovascular disease).” So let’s put this myth to rest.”
Where should we get saturated fat from?
MIYAKI: “Most of your fat intake should come as a by-product of your protein intake. If you get the majority of your protein from wild, hormone – and antibiotic – free animal foods such as whole eggs, salmon, chicken breasts and thighs, and grass-fed beef and lamb, you’ll get essential, monounsaturated and saturated fats you need in the right amounts and ratios. Look at beef: many people think of it as saturated fat, but 50% of the fatty acids in it are unsaturated – the same fat that almost every health authority agrees you should eat more because it improves your cholesterol profile.”
BOWDEN: “Saturated fats from healthy, whole foods are no problem. Grass-fed beef, coconuts and coconut oil, eggs, Malaysian palm fruit oil, and even butter are great. I’d prefer if people got their animal fats from healthy animals, as fats is where toxins are stored. So when you eat meat from factory – farmed animals, you’re getting all those toxins that are stored in their fat – whether it’s saturated or unsaturated. Grass-fed meat has far fewer toxins.”
Dr Jonny Bowden
Miyaki is a trainer and nutrition consultant. He specialises in helping athletes prepare for competition. natemiyaki.com
An osteopathic family physician who specializes in obesity medicine and cholesterol, Nadolsky is the medical editor of examine.com
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