Saturated Fat

Saturated Fat Myth

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

For decades medical model mythology has maintained that the heart and saturated fat are mortal enemies. Ever since Dr. Ancel Keys concluded that the lower incidences of heart disease in Japan, Finland, and some of the European countries was related to their lower intake of saturated fat (and cholesterol), Americans and health care professionals have had a love hate relationship with lipids. Although as a country we still consume large amounts fatty foods, and the vast majority of us find it impossible not to indulge, it’s next to impossible to find a doctor or dietician who doesn’t demand we don’t. Saturated fat is best thought of as “hard fat”, saturation being a chemical term that can best be perceived as hardness. Butter, lard, and cheese are all examples of foods that contain lots of saturated fats, while most liquid oils contain large amounts of unsaturated ones.

Saturated Fat

Coconuts sundried in Kozhikode, Kerala for making copra, which is used for making coconut oil. By Dan Iserman , via Wikimedia Commons

For almost 60 years health dogma has held that when we eat saturated fat, the firmness of our feta somehow becomes hardness in heart and blood vessels, resulting in the sticky fatty plaques that are linked cardiac pathology. This is despite the fact that pre-1900s statistics show that even though our great-grandparents ate much more saturated fat than do we, their 21st century descendents, heart disease of all kinds was far less prevalent, affecting around 8 percent of the population. By 1921 it was the leading cause of death, and it has remained so to this day, despite billions of dollars spent on diagnostics devices and lots of drugs.

Over the last 100 years or so Americans intake of saturated fatty foods has dropped dramatically. At the turn of the 20th century, for example, butter consumption fell from over 18 pounds per person per year to around 10 pounds or so by 1950. Today Americans eat only around 5 pounds of butter a year. On the other hand as the consumption of liquid fats, which in addition to being unsaturated are also highly processed, has risen, so have the rates of heart disease. The more unsaturated fat Americans ingest the sicker we become, not the other way around! Now whether or not there is direct causal link between heart disease and liquid oils has never been shown definitively, but certainly the demonization of saturated fats and their supposed connection to cardiac disease is at the very least unsubstantiated.

Whats more, there’s some evidence that eating saturated fat may actually be good for us. It’s much more stable than unsaturated (and especially poly-unsaturated) oils which break down and form heart-disease promoting free radicals really easily, especially when heated. And, Dr. Keys’ own data showed that countries with the highest per capita consumption of saturated fat actually had the lowest rates of heart disease.

Coconut Oil is my favorite saturated fat. It loaded with Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), a special kind of saturated fat that’s especially filling and energizing. MCT’s are preferentially burnt, which makes them ideal for folks dealing with pancreatic, liver or fat malabsorbtion issues. For those with impaired gall bladder functioning or who’ve had this important structure removed, coconut oil MCTs can be an important source of fatty nutrition. Butter is great saturated fat too. It’s got iodine, selenium and Vitamin K to boot. Put it on steamed asparagus or broccoli. Add some Celtic sea salt and spices…yum!!

*Did you know dark chocolate is 43 percent saturated fat?*

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Understanding Unsaturated & Saturated Fat

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The most misunderstood and maligned nutrient is undoubtedly fat. Those three letters that are responsible for so much misery and marketing spell out the most powerful and energetically dense of all the macro and micro nutrients human beings and animals consume.

There are two main classes of food fats, which are sometimes referred to as “lipids” : saturated fats which are solid (think lard) and unsaturated fats which are liquid (think corn oil). Liquid oil, i.e. unsaturated fats can contain important components called EFAs and this makes them very, very important. Deficiencies in EFAs are associated with a myriad of health problems including skin issues, degenerative disease, impaired mental health and heart pathology name just a few. Because of the important role unsaturated lipids play in keeping the body strong and healthy, for most part nutrition-mined folks have rationally focused on getting enough those important fats while marginalizing, completely ignoring the significance of their saturated biochemical cousins.

Saturated FatUntil recently that is. In the past couple of years one the most important and functional, (not to mention tasty) of the saturated fats has been getting quite a bit of attention. Coconut Oil for many years vilified and verboten, a heavy, artery clogging, and cholesterol raising generally unhealthy fat, as it turns is not so bad after all. In fact there actually a lot to love about coconut oil!

Another three letters should come to mind when you think about coconut oil: M.C.T. . Coconut Oil is one of nature’s richest sources of MCT. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides and it is very good stuff. And, coconut oil is 2 thirds MCT, which means in every teaspoonful you’re going to get 3 grams of MCT oil.

So why should you care about MCTs? Two words: weight loss! Well actually there are a lot of things MCTs are good for, they suppress your appetite you can use them for energy really quickly. They’re very satisfying and you’ll find yourself eating less food, and you’ll have more energy to do stuff.

Body builders love MCTs because they go right into the blood, for use they don’t need to be processed before they can be used. As opposed to the long chain fatty acids that comprise most of our dietary fats, MCTs are relatively inert; they don’t really affect digestive chemistry. That’s important, especially if the digestive system is stresses or impaired. MCT’s don’t require bile. For those sans gall bladder, a teaspoonful or two of coconut oil can be a very tasty way to make sure they’re getting fats. We used them alot in the pharmacy when I worked at University Hospital which was a regional center for digestive system health issues. Burt best of all, MCTs don’t get stored like other fats, they’re used! Which makes them an ideal source of fat nutrition for dieters.

And coconut oil has non MCT related features that make it so darn loveable! Most especially it tastes great. Roast some veggie in it and not only do you get stable oil with a high smoke point, and nutritional value, but you get all that in great tasting oil!

You can use coconut oil topically as a moisturizer or hair conditioner, it’s vitamin E content can protect skin and moisturize skin and hair protective and if you mix it up with a little honey or stevia and some fruit flavoring it has some great adult “entertainment” benefits too (use your imagination here!).

If you have a favorite way to use coconut oil I love to know about it. Please fell free to share it in the comments below.

Nutiva Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

One 54-ounce jar of pure-white, USDA-certified-organic, extra-virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed from fresh coconuts within two hours of chopping; light true-coconut taste, aroma.

Nutiva Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – 54 fl oz

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition