Saturated Fat – Healthy or Harmful?
We are now starting to see how we have been fed false information when it comes to saturated fat and we have probably heard of how it is actually good for us, but good for what exactly? We know it tastes good; people worldwide are rejoicing over the fact that science now shows that most of us can happily add meat, egg yolks, cheese and real butter back into our diet. Not only does saturated fat leave us feeling full and satisfied after a meal, it is beneficial to nearly every cell in our body. Our cell membranes are actually comprised of saturated fat and cholesterol. These compounds are also an integral part of the structure and function of our lungs, heart, bones, liver and immune system. (1)
Our lungs use saturated fat to create a lung surfactant that allows our lungs to expand and take in air. The liver uses saturated fat to clear toxins. Bones require saturated fats to assimilate calcium effectively. The endocrine system uses saturated fat to create hormones for communication in the body. Our immune system relies on saturated fat to create white blood cells. (1) Saturated fat is a staple in breast milk, compromising 54% of the fat that we consume as infants.
So, now that we know the importance of saturated fat, what is it that makes it so special? Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature and that is because of its molecular structure (think butter or coconut oil); all available carbon bonds are tied up with a hydrogen atom. In saturated fat, there are no openings for rancidity or spoilage, making it shelf stable and more resistant to heat damage. This makes them convenient to store, and better to cook with at high heats. This is compared to polyunsaturated fats, for example, vegetable oils (sunflower, soybean, safflower, etc). These polyunsaturated fats contain two or more pairs of double bonds without hydrogen atoms occupying the open space making them wide open for oxidation. (2) This means that polyunsaturated fats (which are generally quite processed to begin with) get rancid easily especially when cooked, not to mention they are high in omega-6s which promote inflammation.
In summary, we can let go of the fear we have had associated with saturated fat intake when we are consuming it alongside a lower carbohydrate, lower sugar diet. Enjoy some heavy cream in your coffee with breakfast, a little butter on your vegetables, and grill a nicely marbled grass-fed steak for dinner. YUM! Bon Appetit!
- Perlmutter, David MD. Grain Brain – The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs and sugar -Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Little, Brown and Company. 2013
Sisson, Mark. “The Definitive Guide to Saturated Fat”. Mark’s Daily Apple. https://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/