Is Saturated Fat Evil? No, but it's not a health food either.


More than 60 years ago, in the public hearing, American audiences condemned saturated fat from an unforgivable crime: an assassination attempt by a US president.

In 1955, while on vacation in Colorado, Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack. "Suddenly people were frantic to understand the cause of heart disease," says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. and his author Smart Fat. In the years that followed, fat and especially saturated fats took responsibility.

If you have spent most of your life avoiding saturated fat, this moment is a great reason why. The next day Eisenhower's heart attack, the president's doctor suggested to the nation to reduce fat and cholesterol, citing the work of a nutritionist named Ancel Keys.

How saturated fat became a ram

Later in the decade, Keys published a survey linking the countries that consumed the most fat with higher rates of heart disease. The "Study of Seven Countries" had a great influence on how Americans eat.

In 1977, a select Senate committee reported Keys research, while making sweeping recommendations to the American people, saying that you should consume less red meat – and by extension, less saturated fat – to avoid heart disease .

This message was hardened in national politics when the government issued it 1980 Dietary guidelines for Americans, which advised people to cut fat off their steaks and avoid saturated fatty foods such as butter, cream and coconut oil.

Because saturated fat made a comeback

Today Keys research is burning. One analysis by Harvard researchers looked at 21 studies and found no relationship between saturated fat and heart disease (or stroke).

In 2014 an analysis of 76 observer studies and randomized controlled trials from Cambridge University concluded that "saturated fatty acids were not associated with coronary artery disease". (The study also noted that some saturated fatty acids, especially margaric acid found in dairy foods, were actually linked to a lower risk of heart disease.)

Finally, a few years later, a third meta – analysis published in British Medical Journal has come to a similar conclusion. After examining more than 62,000 people in 10 randomized trials, researchers found that, although reducing saturated fat has contributed to lowering cholesterol levels, the result did not translate into a lower risk of death. And death is what matters in this debate, ultimately.

Saturated fat is not bad. But does that mean she is healthy?

The apparent turn of the tide within the scientific literature has led to an even greater shift in public perception. Today you hear the loud messages from popular health experts, saying that saturated fat is actually a long loss of healthy eating. Some people still say that you need to get more than that drinking butter in your coffee.

Wait. What?

Now is a good time to call a time limit and see what really happens in this debate. Because both sides have gotten a bit transferred away.

Let's start with the first side of the pendulum swing, starting from behind with Eisenhower's heart attack. It was an incomprehensible oversimplification to place all responsibility for the heart attack – and ultimately for heart attacks – in saturated fat.

First, let's see Eisenhower. The man was president at that time, and before that a five-star general – both stressful jobs. Ike was also known for his temper and smokes at some point four packets a day. It is fair to say that there was confusion about the way of life.

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A beef plate contributes saturated fat to your diet, but cheese is a much larger source for most Americans.

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While some concerns about saturated fat in red meat, the cheese is much larger that contributes to the intake of saturated fat.

Secondly, saturated fats are not necessarily something that most people eat more. The USDA and the World Health Organization suggest you to cover your saturated fat consumption 10 percent of your daily calories. ONE 2007 analysis of researchers at Rutgers University showed that saturated fats account for about 11% of the average American diet. The top sources (8.5 percent), pizza (5.9 percent), cakes and pastries (5.8 percent).

It is also true, as Sat-Fat supporters claim, that Ancel Keys's research showed correlation rather than causal relationship. "The lower clues", as Bowden described. Modern day assessments were not polite to the findings of the study.

"The latest data, which examines all the data of the past decade, shows that when you feed people with more saturated fat, this does not increase the chance of heart disease" says Kamal Patel, director of the nutrition research website Examine.com.

But Patel quickly adds: "That does not mean yet that saturated fat is good for you. "

The connection between saturated fats and cholesterol

There is a lot that we still do not know about the effects of saturated fat in the body. But here is one thing we know:

Saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol (ie "bad").

This has been proven Many times.

Increased LDL does not guarantee that you will get a heart attack – a possible explanation for the zero correlation of researchers with congestive heart disease and heart disease. It is one of the risk factors among many. But the general consensus is that if your goal is to live longer, maintaining low LDL should still be part of the plan.

"If you have two people who are exactly the same, except that LDL is high in one person and low in the other, the person with high LDL will still be at higher risk [for heart disease], Says Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, a San Diego physician and osteopath.

Thus, modern evidences show that, at least, the dogmatic fear of saturated fat is excessive. But Nadolsky and others warn that this does not necessarily mean that you should actively seek more saturated fat in your diet.

"Look at Blue belts, "Nadolsky says, referring to areas of the world where people live longer." Their cholesterol is low. They do not consume butter in their coffee but at the same time do not completely avoid saturated fat. "In fact, they consume many dairy products, mainly in the form of yogurt and cheese (though from sheep and goats instead of cows).

"I'm not an anti-saturated fat," adds Nadolsky. "The problem is when people say,"Look! Saturated fat is not bad for you now! Then people get butter in their coffee. And what I see, and other doctors see this as well, is that people [who do dramatically increase their saturated fat intake] have explosive changes in their cholesterol. "

Saturated Fat and Your Diet: Here's what to do now

You may not need to make any changes at all.

Your body does not really need saturated fat. "There are only two essential fatty acids," says Patel. These are alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6), of which they are unsaturated.

While some people thrive on diets with a high content of saturated fat, your body may not be.

For some people – it's unclear what percentage of the population – small amounts of saturated fat lead to large changes in cholesterol levels.

"We call them hyper-responsive," says Nadolsky. Some day there may be a reliable genetic test to show who these people are, but it does not yet exist. It is safe to say that if heart attacks are part of your family health history, you will be smart to keep your saturated fat intake within the existing 10 percent recommendation.

"If you have people in your family who suffer from heart disease, despite normal cholesterol, then you probably have to do everything you can to reduce the risk, "says Patel.

But if you are still interested in adding more saturated fat to your diet, there is a relatively easy way to keep track of how your body reacts to it. Schedule two cholesterol tests within one month. Take the first test while eating your current diet. Then make the dietary changes you want and do the second test. This is Nadolsky's approach to assessing his clients.

"You can say quite quickly if you are going to make large changes in LDL cholesterol, "he says.

Another test, which some experts say, is more accurate and accurate should replace the standard cholesterol test, examines the concentration of apolipoprotein B in your blood or the cholesterol-transferring protein that is incorporated into the arterial walls. The apoB test, as it says, specifically looks at the particles of the greatest threat.

"When we check cholesterol [through a standard test], we only measure cholesterol in this low-density lipoprotein, "says Nadolsky." But what really sticks to the wall is lipoprotein, and this is better associated with risk. "

The Healthiest Way To Eat More Saturated Fat

If your blood sounds too intense for you, then consider a simpler and safer way to add more fat to your diet: Spread butter and eat nuts, avocados and olive oil healthy fats) Instead.

Avocado contains healthy saturated fat.
Olive oil, avocado and walnuts have proven healthy fats.

"The safest fat for food is monounsaturated [fats, which are found in nuts, avocados, olive oil and fish], "Patel says." They always have a benign or positive effect on lipids, and the end result for heart disease and heart attack. "

Another source of saturated fat that has become popular in recent years is medium chain triglycerides in the form of MCT oil, which is one of the saturated fat addicts that have begun to add to their coffee in recent years.

"MCTs do not have to go through the liver so they are available for your body faster," says Patel. This can be useful during an extremely low carbohydrate diet when you need energy. But Nadolski adds, "I would have no one to replace olive oil or walnuts with MCT oil. I do not want to replace the fat we had I know it is beneficial to this fat may to be some a little bit benefits for fat loss. "

The essence is that saturated fat is a nutrient, not something your whole diet needs to be rotating around. ThThe total of evidence, as a whole, shows that saturated fat is neutral. You must neither go out of your way to eat more than this, nor worry about avoiding it.

"You should not be afraid of saturated fat," says Nadolsky. "But it would be better to focus on your overall diet."

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