This, along with other research findings, is proof of the benefits of saturated fats to your health. Nonetheless, the “Western diet” urges people to replace these beneficial fats with refined carbohydrates such as grains – the real culprits for major chronic disorders.
“Replacing saturated fats in your diet, like those from healthy grass-fed beef, raw organic butter, and other high-quality animal foods, with carbohydrates like bread, bagels, pasta, rice and doughnuts will increase your risk of heart disease,” emphasizes Dr. Joseph Mercola.
Dr. Mercola adds that your body cannot function without saturated fats. They contribute to the functions of your major organs, hormones, cell membranes, genetic regulation, satiety, and many others. As a matter of fact, breast milk – the ideal human food for infants – is composed of 54 percent saturated fat.
Indigenous tribes from around the world enjoy high saturated fat diets and show no signs of illnesses. Examples of these are:
- The Maasai tribe in Kenya/Tanzania eat meat, milk, and cattle blood, which are 66 percent saturated fat
- The Inuit Eskimos in the Arctic consume whale meat and blubber, which are 75 percent saturated fat
- The Rendille tribe in NE Kenya eat camel milk, meat, and blood, which are 63 percent of saturated fat
- Residents of Tokealu, atoll islands in New Zealand territory, consume fish and coconuts, which are composed of 60 percent saturated fat
How the Misconception About Saturated Fats Began
The demonization of saturated fats started in 1953 due to a paper made by Dr. Ancel Keys comparing saturated fat intake and heart disease mortality. His theory was based on data coming from seven countries where higher saturated fat intake was equivalent to higher rates of heart disease.
It was revealed later on that he neglected to include data from 16 other countries that disproved his theory. In combining information from all 23 countries, it was discovered that high percentages of saturated fats in the diet can lower the risk of heart disease.
The nutrition community at that time completely accepted Keys’ hypotheses and advised lessening your intake of butter, red meat, animal fats, eggs, dairy, and other sources of saturated fats.
The Framingham Heart Study (link) – known as proof of the lipid hypothesis or the idea that saturated fats cause high cholesterol and heart disease – is also against saturated fatty acids. This experiment involved 6,000 people who answered questionnaires about their lifestyle habits.
The researchers immediately concluded that those who weighed more and had high blood cholesterol levels were more at risk for heart disease. “The cholesterol link was weak, as researchers noted those who weighed more and had abnormally high blood cholesterol levels were slightly more at risk for future heart disease, but widely publicized. What you don’t hear about is the fact that the more cholesterol and saturated fat people ate, the lower their cholesterol levels,” explained Dr. Mercola.
Refined Carbohydrates: The Real Culprit
A number of recently published works show the truth about saturated fats and their effect on cardiovascular health. All authors emphasize replacing refined carbohydrates with saturated fats to prevent the aggravation of insulin resistance.
Refined carbohydrates can lead to obesity, the increase of triglycerides, and small LDL particles, as well as the reduction of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Nevertheless, U.S. dietary guidelines instruct Americans to consume more grains while limiting saturated fats.
For better overall health, Dr. Mercola gives two important recommendations:
- Eliminate carbohydrates such as sugars, fructose, and grains from your diet.
- Increase your intake of foods rich in saturated fats, omega-3 fats, and monosaturated fats.
These do not only lower your risk of chronic disorders, but they can also contribute to long-term weight management.
For a more detailed account of these recommendations, read Dr. Mercola’s “This Substances Fools Your Metabolism – and Tricks Your Body into Gaining Pounds.”
“In a nutshell, eating saturated fats will not increase your risk of heart disease … but excess carbohydrates will,” says Dr. Mercola.
Check out Dr. Mercola’s nutrition plan for a simple, step-by-step guide to healthy eating.