Awareness Wednesday: The Skinny on Saturated Fat

The media and doctors have hard-wired us to believe that saturated fat is terrible for your health and should be avoided at all costs, but is it even true? There is a lot of confusion and contradictory evidence when it comes to fats in general, but the plain truth is that our bodies need a moderate amount of good, healthy fats for proper function and optimal health. Fats are essential for every cell in the body. Saturated fats in particular make up part of every cell membrane in your body, are necessary for calcium and vitamin absorption in the body, and make up a significant part of your brain. There are countless benefits to eating a moderate amount of saturated fat from natural sources including:

  • Improved cardiovascular and liver health
  • Stronger bones
  • Healthy lungs, brain and skin
  • Proper nerve signaling
  • Strong immune system

A general guideline for saturated fat consumption is that it should make up approximately 7 percent but no more than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake. This means that somebody who eats 2000 calories per day should have between 140 and 200 calories from saturated fat or 15 to 22 grams of saturated fat.

Naturally occurring saturated fats such as those found in meat, avocados, raw nuts, coconut oil and olive oil are great sources of the saturated fat we need to survive. It’s the man-made, artificial saturated fats found in processed foods and oils that are giving all saturated fats a bad name. The problem comes from when unsaturated fats are artificially manipulated into saturated fats and they become something we’ve all heard a lot about over the past few years: trans fats. Trans fats have been scientifically proven to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems, but the same cannot be said for natural saturated fat sources. This interesting article from Men’s Health debunks study after study that tried (and failed) to prove that saturated fat clogs arteries and causes heart disease.

Weston A. Price, a prominent dentist and nutritionist, traveled around the world 100 years ago and recorded the eating habits of indigenous people. During his travels, he found that many indigenous people were much healthier than modern people due to their traditional diets that were often high in saturated fat from coconut oil or butter.

“In his studies, [Weston A. Price] found that plagues of modern civilization (headaches, general muscle fatigue, dental caries (cavities), impacted molars, tooth crowding, allergies, heart disease, asthma, and degenerative diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer) were not present in those cultures sustained by indigenous diets. However, within a single generation these same cultures experienced all the above listed ailments with the inclusion of Western foods in their diet such as: refined sugars, refined flours, canned goods, foods from depleted soil, processed vegetable oils, animals in confinement, dairy products, refined grains, extruded grains, soy, MSG, artificial flavorings, refined sweeteners, processed pickles, soft drinks, refined salt, synthetic vitamins, microwaving foods, irradiating foods, hybrid seeds, and GMO seeds.”

Now, that’s what you call food for thought.

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