Saturated fats are not bad for you when consumed responsibly. Despite the bad name that fats have received, fats are indeed an important variable when considering overall wellness of the human body.
Saturated fat is found in relatively high amounts in various meat and dairy products, as well as cakes, pizza, cooking oils, and many processed foods. Fat plays a very significant role in our bodies by providing a source of energy. Saturated fats are labeled as such, due to the inability to produce double bond connections within the long carbon chains because of the presence of hydrogen.
For many years, it has been thought that saturated fats are harmful to peoples' health; due to a research study conducted by scientists in the 1950’s known as the Lipid Hypothesis. The study showed there was a correlation between the amount of saturated fat in the diet and incidences of coronary heart disease. These experiments were performed on animals by giving them large doses of oxidized cholesterol that was about ten times higher than that found in the ordinary human diet. Additionally, modern day studies have been conducted and the data collected and analyzed rejected this hypothesis. Surveys conducted have found no correlation between levels of cholesterol in the body and the occurrence of atherosclerosis.
Another fact that is less known is that in babies and children, cholesterol and saturated fats are crucial for their growth and the development of the brain. Naturally, a mother’s breast milk is high in cholesterol to support the infant’s development. Many of the commercial baby formulas on the market today are low in saturated fats; some even lack cholesterol entirely like the soy formulas. These formulas may pose a danger to children since a recent study has found a link between low-fat diets and a failure for children to thrive, both in mind and body.
However, it is true that some fats are bad for our health. The fat in our bodies and in the food we consume is in the form of triglycerides, and an excess of these triglycerides in the blood has been proven to increase the risk of developing heart disease. However, contrary to popular opinion, these fats do not come directly from dietary fats; they come from the liver because of excess sugars that have not been used for energy. These excess sugars come from carbohydrates such as white flour and refined sugar.
It is important to note that the word cholesterol has often been used inaccurately. The “bad” and “good” cholesterols are proteins that carry cholesterol around known as lipoproteins. Hence, there are High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL), which is the “good” cholesterol, and Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) that is the “Bad’ cholesterol. When doing their research, scientists found that saturated fat raised LDL levels but ignored the fact that they also increased the HDL levels. Therefore, this proves that saturated fats are not bad for our health as was popularly believed. That does not mean that you should flood your diet with a large daily intake of saturated fats. Remember that even a good thing can become a bad thing when used excessively. However, never reach for the substitutes, such as margarine over butter. Natural is always better!
Possible long-term side effects
- with excessive consumption:
- heart disease
Commonly found in
- fatty beef
- poultry with skin
- beef fat
- lard and cream
- cooking oils
- various processed foods
- promotes good overall health in small amounts
- raises hdl cholesterol
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Written by DeeAnne Oldham | 12-28-2015
Written by DeeAnne Oldham
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