Fat is an essential part of everyone’s daily intake – so should we eat more fat not less? While many billions of dollars have been spent on marketing the dangers of saturated animal fats and the benefits of vegetable, grain and other seed oils for massive profits, I would like to tell you, what you have not been told about fats, saturated, animal or otherwise.
Animal products are the primary source of saturated fats in most people’s diets, although coconut oil and palm oil are 92% and 50% saturated fats respectively. Saturated fats constitute about 50% of the cell membrane. Together with protein, fats give our cells stiffness and integrity. They play a vital role in the health of our bones; for calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of the dietary fats must be saturated. They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease. Saturated fats are needed for proper utilisation of essential fatty acids; elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats. Saturated fats are also a rich source of Vitamins A and D.
Short and medium chain saturated fatty acids have important anti-microbial properties, which help protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive track. Today as we are rampant with problems of digestive dysbiosis and parasite infection; it is one the most common issues that I see in my clients. Consistently, I find that athletes or people trying to recover from injury do not respond to exercise nor a high grade organic diet because they have parasite infections. I am of the belief that if more people ate quality fats from sources such as organic animals and organic coconut oils, we would not have such these problems with parasites and dysbiosis.
Mary Enig PhD, a renowned researcher on fats, points out that the scientific evidence does not support the assertion that “artery-clogging” saturated fats cause heart disease. Actually, evaluation of the fats in artery clogs reveals that only about 26% of those clots are made of saturated fats. The rest are unsaturated, of which more than half is polyunsaturated – the stuff that is supposed to be good for us!
Cholesterol is regularly portrayed as a “bad guy;” something to be minimised and avoided as much as possible. However, it is one of the key constituents in rebuilding cell walls. For example, as levels of inflammation in your body increase, so too does your need for cholesterol and so your body will actually manufacture more cholesterol to help repair the damaged tissues. So think about someone who goes to the gym regularly – they are constantly breaking down and repairing tissues and therefore may well have a higher level of cholesterol in their body that someone who doesn’t lift weights. Yet if their cholesterol level is above the “acceptable” range set by the medical profession, they will be advised to alter their diet and may be prescribed a cholesterol-lowering drug!
Cholesterol is also a precursor to vital corticosteroids, the hormones that help us to deal with stress and protect the body against heart disease and cancer. Sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone are made from cholesterol. It acts as an antioxidant and protects against free radicals. It is needed for proper function of serotonin receptors in brain; serotonin is the “feel-good chemical” where low levels are associated with depression, violent behaviour and suicidal tendencies. It is important in the health of the intestinal wall. Low cholesterol vegetarian diets (as cholesterol is only found in animal foods) can lead to leaky gut syndrome and intestinal disorders.
These fall into two main categories, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats themselves can be divided into two groups of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA): Omega-3 (Ω-3) and Omega-6 (Ω-6) Fatty Acids (FA). These are essential to the diet, as the human body cannot manufacture them.
Omega-3 FA are necessary for energy production, oxygen transfer, haemoglobin production, membrane components, muscle recovery, prostaglandin production, growth and cell division, and immune function. Adequate Ω-3 FA are important for brain development, which is especially important in infants and young children. Good sources include leafy greens, oily fish, free-range eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, flax seed oil. Ω-3 FA produce soft, smooth skin and increase healing, vitality and calmness. They also reduce inflammation, water retention, platelet stickiness, blood pressure and tumour growth.
Deficiencies of Ω-3 FA lead to asthma, heart disease and learning deficiencies. Alpha-linolenic acid is an example of an Ω-3 FA. Essential Ω-3 FA can be elongated into very long chain FA, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), essential components in the production of Series 3 prostaglandins. However some people have to consume EPA and DHA, found in organ meats, egg yolks, butter and the oils of cold water fish, as part of their diet. This is especially common among those people whose ancestors ate a lot of fish, such as populations of Irish descent. Chronic alcoholism can result from a lack of EPA and DHA in such people, and has been successfully treated with fish oil supplements.
Omega-6 FA are used in the production of Series 1 and 2 prostaglandins, but also facilitate the development of inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that oils high in Ω-6 FA can contribute to hypothyroidism and lower metabolic rate. A diet high in Ω-6 FA also increases the tendency to form blood clots, high blood pressure, irritation of the digestive tract, sterility, cell proliferation and cancer. Linoleic acid is an example of an Ω-6 FA, and in a healthy body this FA can be converted to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is also used in production of prostaglandins and is also found in evening primrose, borage and black currant oils.
All are polyunsaturated fats are highly reactive and go rancid easily. They should never be used with high heat. Rancid fats create free radicals which attack cell membranes and red blood cells, which can then damage DNA and RNA strands and can trigger mutations in tissue, blood vessels and skin.
It is the ratio of Ω-3 to Ω-6 in our diets that is important. Ethnographic studies on traditional, healthy hunter-gather societies show that they ate a ratio of somewhere between 1:1 and 1:4, Ω-3: Ω-6 FA. However the ratio in the Standard American Diet (SAD indeed!) is between 1:16 to 1:30. It is no coincidence that the FA ratio of commercially-raised eggs is between 1:20 and 1:30, and the ratio in commercially-farmed fish and commercially-raised meat fed a high grain diet is also close to this. So we are eating a diet high in inflammation-causing Ω-6 FA, and anti-inflammation drugs are some of the biggest sellers in the world! Another coincidence? I think not! Research by Loren Cordain PhD shows that wild game meat contains Ω-3: Ω-6 FA ratios of around 1:3 to 1:4 in muscle and organs and 1:1 in the brain. Traditional hunter-gatherers enjoy eating the organs and brains of wild animals; meats rich in Ω-3 FA. So the way we are commercially raising animals for meat today has completely changed the profile of the omega FA in the meat, and is adversely affecting our health.
Many of these traditional societies also ate their meat raw or barely cooked, which helps to prevent oxidization of the fat. For example cholesterol is damaged by exposure to heat and oxygen, which then promotes injury to arterial cell walls and build-up of plaque. This may be another contributing factor to the low levels of coronary heart disease (CHD) in our ancestors, and the much higher levels in our barbeque-cooking and processed-meat loving population now.
The best sources for any dietary fats are organic plants and animals. These are plants that are grown in healthy soil according to the principles of traditional farming, without any chemical sprays, pesticide, fungicides and so on. Organic animals are raised in a healthy, natural environment where they can move around, fed the diet they would eat in nature, and not subjected to hormones, steroids or unnecessary antibiotics. The problem is that most people nowadays, trying to “save money” on food, do not eat these types of foods, but rather consume pesticide-sprayed, genetically-modified vegetables and commercially-raised animals that have been poisoned with cheap and incorrect foods, living in inhumane living conditions. And about 100% of conventionally-farmed animals are on drugs. Since the body stores toxins in fat, when commercially-raised animals are fed interesting items such as cardboard, newspaper, woodchips, cement dust and manure – all approved by the FDA for animal feed – the liver cannot handle the toxic overload and pushes the excess into fat. This causes the huge weight gain – up to 30% in cattle fed cement dust. This is great for the farmer who gets paid for his animals by the pound, but not so good for the animal itself, or for you! Prime cuts of meat are generally marbled with fat, so if the animal is not organically-raised and grass-fed, you are eating the animal’s toxin store along with your filet mignon.
To summarise the truth about fats, ask yourself – how did we get here? If saturated animal fats were the villain, none of us would be here. We evolved on diets that were for the most part 50%-80% animals, fish and birds, all primary sources of saturated fats. Yet before 1920, heart disease was so rare that the person who invented the electrocardiograph machine, Paul Dudley White, was advised to find a more profitable branch of medicine! In Nourishing Traditions Sally Fallon highlights many studies that showed no link – or the opposite results – between a “good” diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol and high in polyunsaturated fats and various indicators of CHD.
To understand more about what diet is best for you as an individual, read the article here – https://www.thrivehealth.fitness/the-end-of-one-size-fits-all-diets/
While the media states that saturated fats are bad for us, it is my belief that it is not the saturated fat that is bad, but it is what the commercial farmers are doing to the animals that makes their fat bad. A healthy organic animal does not have saturated fat that is bad for you, otherwise we would not have had Eskimos, American Indians or otherwise!
Fats to Consume
- Organic, free-range animal meats and fats such as lard, tallow etc. Good for cooking at high heat.
- Fish (Or due to the high levels of heavy metals and other toxins in fish today, high quality fish-oil supplements may be a good option. These should come from wild fish that have been filtered for heavy metal toxicity and other metal toxicity.)
- Organic, free-range eggs – the whole complete egg including the yolk, which should be kept intact during cooking to prevent oxidising the cholesterol in the yolk. Best methods are boiling or low-temperature poaching and frying.
- Raw nuts, soaked before eating to break down the phyto-nutrients and makes all the nutrients more bio-available.
- Avocados – a good source of monounsaturated oleic acid.
- Cold-pressed, unfiltered organic olive oil – a good source of monounsaturated oleic acid and may be used for cooking at moderate temps.
- Butter, raw if possible – Butter has many benefits including fat-soluble vitamins, short and medium chain FA, small, but equal amounts of Ω-3 and Ω-6 FA, conjugated linoleic acid (if the butter is from pasture-fed cows only – this has strong anti-cancer properties), lecithin, cholesterol, trace minerals and more.
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Coconut oil or butter – high in medium-chain FA that is good for using at high heat.
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Flax seed oil – very high Ω-3 content. Always keep refrigerated and never heat.
- Castor oil
- Cod liver oil
Fats to avoid or limit
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils – These contain trans-fatty acids that look more like plastic that fats under a microscope. Your body is not designed to eat plastics!
- Canola oil – Has a high sulphur content, goes rancid easily, contains trans-fatty acids (created during deodorising of oil), can cause deficiency of Vitamin E and may cause fibrotic heart lesions.
- Soy oil – highly processes and high in Ω-6 FA
- Corn, safflower, cottonseed and sunflower oils – high in Ω-6 FA, very low in Ω-3
- Peanut and sesame oils – OK for cooking at moderate temps, but limit the use because of Ω-6 FA content.
If you want to improve your symptoms of ill health and have more energy eat more fats! If you doubt the evidence here, then there is only one thing to do – try it for yourself…
Remember to read this essential post on what diet is best for you https://www.thrivehealth.fitness/the-end-of-one-size-fits-all-diets/
In Health & Happiness Christian