Evidence Does Not Support Low Consumption of Saturated Fats

Anyone who grew up in the 80's will remember a tub of 'Flora' margarine or 'Gold' low fat spread on the table.  Gone was the butter dish which had stood on tables for generations. 

It was the era of the Rosemary Conley Diet which extolled the virtues of the high carb, low fat diet, and other dietary gimmicks such as low fat cooking spray and 'squirty' cream.

It now seems that decades later, scientists have 'discovered' that the dietary advice we all followed so dutifully was seriously flawed. 

The advice to cut out saturated fat and eat polyunsaturated vegetable oils, low fat products and high wholegrain (carbohydrate) has led to an explosion in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

A review from Cambridge University, published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine, is the latest analysis to confirm the absolute lack of evidence that consuming saturated fat leads to heart disease.

The meta-analysis of 76 studies found no basis for guidelines that advise increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats to lower your cardiac risk, calling into question all of the standard nutritional guidelines related to heart health. The authors concluded:

"Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats."

The first major report linking saturated animal fat consumption to heart disease, which served as the basis for the persistent claim that saturated fat causes heart disease by raising cholesterol, was authored by Ancel Keys (1904-2004). This well-known physiologist published his seminal paper known as the "Seven Countries Study" in 1963.

What many don't know is that data was actually available from 22 countries, but Keys selectively analyzed information from only seven of them. The seven countries chosen held true to his initial theory.

Upon later analysis, other researchers discovered that when all 22 countries are included, there's no correlation at all between saturated fat consumption and coronary heart disease. In fact, the full data set suggests the opposite—that those eating the most saturated animal fat tend to have a lower incidence of heart disease.

The death rate from heart disease in Finland was 24 times that of Mexico, although fat-consumption rates in the two nations were almost the same.

Just last year, an editorial in the British Medical Journal described how the avoidance of saturated fat actually promotes poor health in a number of ways, compounding the health risks of following this completely outdated and dangerous advice.

As stated by the author, Aseem Malhotra, an interventional Cardiology Specialist Registrar at Croydon University Hospital in London:

"The mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades. Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risk...

The aspect of dietary saturated fat that is believed to have the greatest influence on cardiovascular risk is elevated concentrations of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Yet the reduction in LDL cholesterol from reducing saturated fat intake seems to be specific to large, buoyant (type A) LDL particles, when in fact it is the small, dense (type B) particles (responsive to carbohydrate intake) that are implicated in cardiovascular disease.

Indeed, recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk Instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective."

Replacing Saturated Fats with Carbs Increases Your Heart Disease Risk

In 2012, another revealing study was published that again showed public health agencies steering people away from healthful saturated fats are doing your health a great disservice. The study found that dietary intake of saturated fatty acids is associated with a modest increase in serum total cholesterol -- but not with cardiovascular disease.

However, replacing dietary saturated fats with carbohydrates is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease risk.

Research is now pouring in that the conventional dogma demonizing saturated fats is simply wrong:

A meta-analysis that 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.

A 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.

A subset of the low fat myth that persists to this day is the belief that saturated fat will increase your risk of heart attacks.

Confusing the Facts is Part of the Problem

Part of the scientific confusion relates to the fact that your body is capable of synthesizing saturated fats that it needs from carbohydrates, and these saturated fats are principally the same ones present in dietary fats of animal origin.

However, and this is the key, not all saturated fatty acids are the same. There are subtle differences that have profound health implications, and if you avoid eating all saturated fats you will suffer serious health consequences.
There are in fact more than a dozen different types of saturated fat, but you predominantly consume only three: stearic acid, palmitic acid and lauric acid.

It’s already been well established that stearic acid (found in cocoa and animal fat) has zero effect on your cholesterol levels, and actually gets converted in your liver into the monounsaturated fat called oleic acid.  The other two, palmitic and lauric acid, do raise total cholesterol. However, since they raise “good” cholesterol as much or more than “bad” cholesterol, you’re still actually lowering your risk of heart disease.

Why do You Need Saturated Fat?

Foods containing saturated fat include:

  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Some oils
  • Tropical plants such as coconut and palm trees

These (saturated) fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances.

When you eat fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

Humans have eaten animal products for most of their existence on earth and therefore, they have consumed saturated fats for most of that time. If saturated fats were of no value or were harmful to you, why would breast milk produce saturated fats like butyric, caproic, caprylic, capric, lauric, myristic, palmitic and stearic acids, which provide a naturally perfected source of nourishment to ensure the growth, development and survival of your infants?

Saturated fats are also:

  • The preferred fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during energy expenditur
  • Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
  • Effective as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti fungal agents (lauric acid)
  • Useful to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
  • Modulators of genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid)

However, There IS Still a Link Between Fat and Heart Disease!

Now, it is clear that there is some association between fat and heart disease. The problem lies in the fact that most studies make no effort to differentiate between saturated fat and trans fat.

If researchers were to more carefully evaluate the risks of heart disease by measuring the levels of trans and saturated fat, they would find a completely different story.

Trans fat is known to increase your LDL levels, or "bad" cholesterol, while lowering your levels of HDL, known as "good" cholesterol, which, of course is the complete opposite of what you need in order to maintain good heart health. It can also cause major clogging of arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.

Unfortunately, many food companies use trans fat instead of oil because it reduces cost, extends storage life of products and can improve flavor and texture.

Your body needs some amount of saturated fat to stay healthy. It is virtually impossible to achieve a nutritionally adequate diet that has no saturated fat. What you don’t need, however, are trans fats.

Fat Has Been Blamed for Sugar's Evil Deeds

Going back forty years or more, fat has been misidentified as the culprit behind heart disease, when all along it's been sugar.

A high-sugar diet raises your risk for heart disease by promoting metabolic syndrome—a cluster of health conditions that includes high blood pressure, insulin and leptin resistance, high triglycerides, liver dysfunction, and visceral fat accumulation.

Insulin and leptin resistance is caused by factors inherent in our modern lifestyle, including diets heavy in processed carbohydrates, sugars/fructose, refined flours, and industrial seed oils.

Cholesterol Is Not Only Beneficial for Your Body—It's Absolutely Mandatory

About 800,000 Americans die from cardiovascular disease annually. A quarter of these deaths could be prevented through simple lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and managing insulin and leptin levels.

By reducing your cholesterol, you may actually be increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease. Your body needs adequate cholesterol to perform a number of critical functions, and there is strong evidence that people have a higher risk for heart attacks by having their cholesterol levels driven too low, as is being done by drugs like statins.

Cholesterol plays important roles such as building your cell membranes, interacting with proteins inside your cells, and helping regulate protein pathways required for cell signaling. Having too little cholesterol may negatively impact your brain health, hormone levels, heart disease risk, and more. Therefore, placing an upper limit on dietary cholesterol, especially such a LOW upper limit as is now recommended, is likely causing far more harm than good.

The latest science suggests healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated fats from whole food, animal, and plant sources) should comprise anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of your overall energy intake.

Saturated fats provide a number of important health benefits, including the following:  

  • Providing building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances    
  • Mineral absorption, such as calcium    
  • Carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Conversion of carotene into vitamin A    
  • Helping to lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)    
  • Acts as antiviral agent (caprylic acid)
  • Optimal fuel for your brain    
  • Provides satiety    
  • Modulates genetic regulation and helps prevent cancer (butyric acid)

So butter really is better!!

Source: www.mercola.com