Get the Truth Here: Learn About Good Saturated Fats

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM; Carrie Lam, MD

Good saturated fats can be found in coconut milkFor the past forty or so years, we have been told, over and over again, to ditch the eggs, the bacon, the butter, and the steak. We have been told to use skimmed milk and consume only foods labeled as ‘low-fat’. We have been fed the line that saturated fat is bad for our health. It clogs arteries, raises cholesterol levels, and causes heart attacks. But, good saturated fats are necessary.

If we look at statistics, we realize something is very wrong. Over this period of time, obesity, in America has doubled, while heart attacks are the number one killer. All of this while the consumption of saturated fats has fallen to only 30%!

The truth of the matter is, good saturated fats are actually essential in order for your body to function properly. The propaganda we have been fed is not accurate. Research has proven this.

The Reason for the War on Saturated Fats

There was an increase in deaths due to heart attacks. Although no research was conducted to verify the accuracy, a hypothesis was formed (it is known as the ‘diet-heart hypothesis’). It was based on a few assumptions that in turn were based on animal studies and observations.

The assumption, or hypothesis, made, was based on the following idea and became the law of the land:
If your cholesterol is raised due to the consumption of saturated fats, and if cholesterol is the cause of heart disease, then it would follow that heart disease is the direct result of saturated fats.

Of course, this was made public and everyone jumped onto the ‘saturated fats are bad for you’ bandwagon. Soon, supermarket shelves were filled with ‘healthier’, nonfat or low-fat options, and the public bought into the assumption.

Much research has proven that this assumption is incorrect, but the popular belief instilled in people during the 1970’s has seen people cling to this concept religiously, even though there is very little scientific proof that saturated fats are, indeed, bad for your health.

What are Good Saturated Fats?

Good saturated fats are fuel for your heart. They are good fats, in that they have anti-fungal, anti-plaque, anti-caries, and antiviral properties. Butyric acid, a saturated fat found in dairy products, has been shown to help prevent cancer, while stearic acid and palmitic acid (saturated fats found in most protein sources) actually help with regulating your body’s cholesterol levels.

Recent studies have concluded that saturated fats are good for you because they lower the risk of obesity and that those who consume this fat stand a smaller chance of developing cardiovascular problems.

The Benefits of Saturated Fats in the Diet

Less Risk of Developing Heart Disease

Saturated fats play a role in reducing the levels of lipoprotein. Lipoprotein puts you at risk of developing heart problems. They help diminish the effects of cholesterol while lowering the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

Contributes to Brain Function

Your brain consists of fat and cholesterol. Saturated fatty acids make up a large portion of this. Lack of saturated fats thus compromises brain health.

Improves Immunity

Good saturated fats can derive from coconut oils.Lauric acid and myristic acid are found in oils derived from coconuts, for example, and help promote the synthesis of your body’s white blood cells. They also enhance their performance. A diet without these good saturated fats makes you prone to fungi, virus, and bacterial infections.

An Aid in Weight Loss

A diet high in saturated fats and low in carbohydrates helps with weight loss. These fats prevent hunger pangs from developing and give a feeling of ‘fullness’. This prevents frequent trips to the refrigerator and overeating. Studies conducted also suggest that these healthy saturated fats promote the burning up of stored fat while they enhance the functioning of the metabolism.

Promotes Stronger Bones

Saturated fats ensure the effective absorption of calcium. One study suggests this fat should make up 50% of your total fat intake due to its ability to ensure strong bones and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

The Lung Connection

When the lung’s lining is compromised, it interferes with proper liver function. Saturated fats form this lining. A change to this lining makes it difficult to breathe.

Protects Your Liver

The damage caused to the liver by certain medications and chemicals is known as hepatotoxicity. Certain studies have suggested that by including saturated fat in your diet, your liver is protected from this kind of damage.

Aids the Functioning of the Nervous System

The saturated fats one finds in butter, palm oil, and coconut oil work as signals for the nervous system. They influence both the metabolic rate and release of insulin. This is important for the proper functioning of the endocrine system. The absence of these fats, serve to upset the nervous communication system, thereby causing a number of health issues.

The Importance of Saturated Fats on Adrenal Function

The adrenal glands, each of which is situated on top of a kidney, is an important component in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When the body is stressed out, whether due to psychological or physiological reasons, the adrenals produce cortisol. Cortisol is the main hormone dealing with any stress-related issue. Under normal circumstances, the adrenals are well prepared to produce enough of this hormone to deal with any given situation. When the body is put under undue, prolonged stress, however, the adrenal glands need to work harder, producing more cortisol to keep up with the demand.

At some point, however, it is not able to do so. When this point is reached, the body responds. This response is known as the neuroendometabolic (NEM) Stress Response. Its main function is to protect the body against stress. Once the adrenals can no longer produce sufficient quantities of cortisol, and adrenal fatigue starts setting in, the NEM stress response kicks in automatically and addressed the situation. Other pathways are found using other organs to produce the needed hormones.

Once the stress escalates to such a degree that the NEM stress response no longer functions as it should, adrenal exhaustion sets in and the system crashes. Recovery may take a while.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue are depression, stress, insomnia, unexplained weight gain, and even diabetes, just to name a few.

A well-balanced meal should include good saturated fatsWith regards to saturated fats, they, and cholesterol are the raw materials used by the adrenals to produce hormones. Without them, the whole endocrine and hormone-producing system is compromised. These hormones play a role in our emotions, behavior, and our sexual and reproductive abilities. They also play a role in regulating one’s metabolism, bone formation, energy production, brain function (important for the hypothalamus which is part of the HPA axis), and the assimilation of minerals.

What to Keep in Mind When Choosing Good Saturated Fats

  • Good sources of processed fat are whole milk and coconut milk.
  • Do not include saturated fats derived from pizzas, French Fries, or processed meats.
  • When cooking either roast, grill, or slow cook your meat or poultry.
  • If possible, avoid red meat. Grass-fed sources of red meat are best if using red meat as a protein source.
  • Fats combined with sugar and/or carbohydrates should be avoided.

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Coconuts can provide good saturated fats