Is the “Jury Still Out on Saturated Fat”?

by Jennifer Sweeney

\When I consume fat, I want to know exactly what type of fat and where it came from. I eat saturated fat, and cook with with it, including ghee (clarified butter), bacon fat, tallow, lard, full-fat coconut milk and coconut oil. But I make sure the the sources of these fats are organic and from grass-fed animals and pastured pork.

A recent news headline in Medline Plus stated:

Jury Still Out on Whether Saturated Fat Is Bad for You, Researchers Say

Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, cautioned against interpreting the study’s mixed message as a license to loosen up limits on saturated fat consumption.

“Trans fat remains a definite concern,” she said. “Saturated fats are a little up in the air. Part of the problem is that we know that there are some saturated fats that are not harmful and possibly even beneficial. However, you cannot separate out the healthy types of saturated fats from those that are not so healthy. They come packaged together in foods,” she explained.

Unfortunately, the person writing the article didn’t probe further. What did Sandon mean by “packaged together”? For me, that suggests we’re talking about processed foods. Perhaps the headline should read: “Stay away from packaged and processed foods.”

Sandon suggests that some saturated fats are “possibly even beneficial”, and that is true. As The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD says,

The saturated fat in meat and eggs is a long-chain saturated fat. It is not the unhealthy fat that was once wrongfully accused as the cause of cardiovascular disease, but how healthy it is for you is still under debate. My suggestion is to not worry about it, but don’t go out of your way to eat more of it either. Coconut and palm oil contain a medium chain saturated fat and this is very special.

An often-overlooked issue with fat is what we use when cooking. And this is where saturated fats shine. As Ballantyne puts it,

Saturated fats are the only fats you should cook with on a regular basis. This is because poly-unsaturated fats do something very bad when they get heated up: they oxidize and produce Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs). This means two things: they do go rancid much more easily and, if they do produce AGEs, they can cause oxidative damage to the cells in your body.

The best way you can control what you put in your body is to cook your own food and avoid processed foods. And when you cook, use saturated fats.

Your body will thank you!


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