Howevera€¦ many recent studies suggest that the true picture is more complicated than that. This article takes a detailed look at saturated fat and whether it is good or bad for your health. Each fat molecule is made of one glycerol molecule and three fatty acidsa€¦ which can be either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. What this "saturation" stuff has to do with, is the number of double bonds in the molecule.
Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds, monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond and polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more double bonds.
Foods that are high in saturated fat include fatty meats, lard, full-fat dairy products like butter and cream, coconuts, coconut oil, palm oil and dark chocolate. Even foods like beef also contain a significant amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fats (1). Fats that are mostly saturated (like butter) tend to be solid at room temperature, while fats that are mostly unsaturated (like olive oil) are liquid at room temperature. Bottom Line: Saturated "fats" are fats that contain a high proportion of saturated fatty acids, which contain no double bonds.
Back in the 20th century, there was a major epidemic of heart disease running rampant in America.
It used to be a rare disease, but very quickly it skyrocketed and became the number one cause of deatha€¦ which it still is (2). Researchers learned that eating saturated fat seemed to increase levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
This was an important finding at the time, because they also knew that having high cholesterol was linked to an increased risk of heart disease. If saturated fat raises cholesterol (A causes B) and cholesterol causes heart disease (B causes C), then this must mean that saturated fat causes heart disease (A causes C). This hypothesis (called the "diet-heart hypothesis") was based on assumptions, observational data and animal studies (3). The diet-heart hypothesis then turned into public policy in 1977, before it was ever proven to be true (4). Even though we now have plenty of experimental data in humans showing these initial assumptions to be wrong, people are still being told to avoid saturated fat in order to reduce heart disease risk. Bottom Line: Saturated fats have been assumed to cause heart disease by raising cholesterol in the blood. HDL and LDL, the "good" and "bad" cholesterols, aren't actually cholesterola€¦ they are proteins that carry cholesterol around, known as lipoproteins.
At first, scientists only measured "Total" cholesterol, which includes cholesterol within both LDL and HDL.
Because saturated fat raised LDL levels, it seemed logical to assume that this would increase the risk of heart disease.
Small, dense LDL: These are small lipoproteins that can penetrate the arterial wall easily, which drives heart disease. Large LDL: These lipoproteins are large and fluffy and don't easily penetrate the arteries.
The small, dense particles are also much more susceptible to becoming oxidized, which is a crucial step in the heart disease process (17, 18, 19). People with mostly small LDL particles have three times greater risk of heart disease, compared to those with mostly large LDL particles (20). Soa€¦ if we want to reduce our risk of heart disease, we want to have mostly large LDL particles and as little of the small ones as possible. Here's an interesting bit of information that is often ignored by "mainstream" nutritionistsa€¦ eating saturated fat changes the LDL particles from small, dense to Large (21, 22, 23). What this implies is that even though saturated fat can mildly raise LDL, they are changing the LDL to a benign subtype that is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Now scientists have realized that it's not just about the LDL concentration or the size of the particles, but the number of LDL particles (called LDL-p) floating in their bloodstreams. Low-carb diets, which tend to be high in saturated fat, can lower LDL-p, while low-fat diets can have an adverse effect and raise LDL-p (28, 29, 30, 31).
Bottom Line: Saturated fats raise HDL (the "good") cholesterol and change LDL from small, dense (bad) to Large LDL, which is mostly benign. The supposedly harmful effects of saturated fat are the cornerstone of modern dietary guidelines. Howevera€¦ despite decades of research and billions of dollars spent, scientists still haven't been able to demonstrate a clear link. Several recent review studies that combined data from multiple other studies, found that there really is no link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. This includes a review of 21 studies with a total of 347,747 participants, published in 2010. Another review published in 2014 looked at data from 76 studies (both observational studies and controlled trials) with a total of 643,226 participants.
We also have a systematic review from the Cochrane collaboration, which combines data from numerous randomized controlled trials.
According to their review, published in 2011, reducing saturated fat has no effect on death or death from heart disease (34). However, they found that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats reduced the risk of cardiac events (but not death) by 14%.
This does not imply that saturated fats are "bad," just that certain types of unsaturated fats (mostly Omega-3s) are protective, while saturated fats are neutral. Soa€¦ the biggest and best studies on saturated fat and heart disease show that there is no direct link. Unfortunately, the governments and "mainstream" health organizations seem reluctant to change their minds and continue to promote the old low-fat dogma. Bottom Line: The link between saturated fat and heart disease has been studied intensely for decades, but the biggest and best studies show that there is no statistically significant association. This is the diet recommended by the USDA and mainstream health organizations all over the world. This diet also recommends increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grainsa€¦ along with reduced consumption of sugar. Other massive studies have confirmed thisa€¦ the low-fat diet provides no benefit for heart disease or the risk of death (39, 40). Several studies that replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated vegetable oils showed that more people in the vegetable oil groups ended up dying (41, 42).


Of course, this graph alone doesn't prove anything (correlation does not equal causation), but it does make sense that replacing traditional foods like butter and meat with processed low-fat foods high in sugar had something to do with it. It's also interesting when looking at the literature, that in almost every single study comparing the "expert approved" low-fat diet to other diets (including paleo, vegan, low-carb and Mediterranean), it loses (44, 45, 46, 47). Bottom Line: Studies on the low-fat diet do not show a reduced risk of heart disease or death and some studies show that replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils increases the risk. The studies clearly show that, on average, saturated fat does not raise the risk of heart disease. Perhaps most individuals see no effecta€¦ while others experience decreased risk and yet others experience an increased risk. That being said, there are definitely some people who may want to minimize saturated fat in the diet. This includes individuals with a genetic disorder called Familial Hypercholesterolemia, as well as people who have a gene variant called ApoE4 (48). With time, the science of genetics will most surely discover more ways in which diet affects our individual risk for disease.
Bottom Line: Some people may want to minimize saturated fat intake, including people with Familial Hypercholesterolemia or a gene called ApoE4. For this reason, coconut oil, lard and butter are all excellent choices for cooking, especially for high-heat cooking methods like frying.
Foods that are naturally high in saturated fat also tend to be healthy and nutritious, as long as you're eating quality unprocessed foods.
Bottom Line: Saturated fats are excellent cooking fats and foods that are high in saturated fat tend to be both healthy and nutritious. The evidence points to saturated and monounsaturated fats being perfectly safe and maybe even downright healthy. We need to get these two types of fatty acids in a certain balance, but most people are eating way too many Omega-6 fatty acids these days (51). It is a good idea to eat plenty of Omega-3s (such as from fatty fish), but most people would do best by reducing their Omega-6 consumption (52). The best way to do that is to avoid seed- and vegetable oils like soybean and corn oils, as well as the processed foods that contain them.
Trans fats are made by exposing polyunsaturated vegetable oils to a chemical process that involves high heat, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst.
Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, belly fat accumulation and drastically raise the risk of heart disease (53, 54, 55, 56). So eat your saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and Omega-3sa€¦ but avoid trans fats and processed vegetable oils like the plague. Bottom Line: The truly harmful fats are artificial trans fats and processed vegetable oils high in Omega-6 fatty acids.
The health authorities have spent an immense amount of resources studying the link between saturated fat and heart disease.
Despite thousands of scientists, decades of work and billions of dollars spent, this hypothesis still hasn't been supported by any good evidence. The saturated fat myth wasn't proven in the past, isn't proven today and never will be provena€¦ because it's just flat out wrong. Humans and pre-humans have been eating saturated fat for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years, but the heart disease epidemic started a hundred years ago. From breakfast to dessert, these recipes show 'tasty and filling' doesn't have to mean fattening.
Reducing fat in your diet? Benefit of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils was overestimated! To learn more about putting your diabetes in remission, call 952 835 2132 and talk to a Registered Dietitian about your specific situation. Knowledge of appropriate foods and beverages needed for weight loss and diet of patients in an obesity clinic Kaufer-Horwitz, M., et al. If someone you love is trying to lose weight, you want to support their efforts to get healthy.
Oh Halloween – what a fun time: Parties and costumes and trick-or-treaters and brightly colored sweets everywhere! A recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that weight loss results from low carb and low fat diets were similar after one year.
National physical activity experts report that workers today are burning an average of 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than workers in the 1960s.
Your body can absorb the nutrients in the food more readily, since it is broken down better. A British study shows taking a short, brisk walk can reduce the amount of snacking you do at work. February is Heart Health Month, which makes it a great time for individuals to evaluate their lifestyle and how it may be contributing to or harming their heart’s wellbeing. We Minnesotans are used to the snow and cold of winter, but this season has seemed especially brutal, hasn't it? The below-zero windchills and heavy snow make it feel easier to stay indoors and eat at our desk than to go out or go home for lunch.
Dieting can be frustrating when the scale is not showing a decrease in pounds or the weight is not staying off. Here's another great OPTIFAST success story!In her late twenties, Elizabeth began taking a new medication which caused her to rapidly gain weight. Researchers have found that people who are overweight have an increased risk of loss in brain volume, which could translate to decreased mental function later in life. If you need a little extra help keeping track of your daily food intake and planning meals, we have some technology suggestions that can help!
The habit of snacking appears to be more common now than several decades ago, and it could be affecting people's waistlines.
A study found that if you are over the age of 35, drinking two cups of water before every meal is an effective weight management tool.
You may have heard in the news recently that the American Medical Association designated obesity as a disease.
Patients and friends have been telling me about using these "milks" for their morning shakes. Are you noshing at lunch in front of your computer?  It is interesting to note that, people who eat lunch at in front of a computer are likely to eat more within 30 minutes vs. Join us this Saturday to discuss the different strategies about what to do in those tough scenarios like eating out whether you are on full fast or modified fast. A long-term study found that high-carb low-fat diets do not lead to weight gain as some suspected, but that weight loss was minimal during a seven-year period.


People on a high-carb low-fat diet are advised to restrict fat intake and consume a large portion of their calories as carbohydrate-rich foods. Advocates of high-carb low-fat diets have differing opinions about what particular types of carbohydrates and fats to consume. One study followed two groups of dieters for a year and found that those who followed a high-carb low-fat diet lost the same amount of weight as those on a low-carb high-fat diet. Later they learned that while LDL was linked to increased risk, HDL was linked to reduced risk (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Although they increase LDL in the short-term, plenty of long-term observational studies find no link between saturated fat consumption and LDL levels (24, 25, 26).
For example, palmitic acid (16 carbons) may raise LDL, while stearic acid (18 carbons) does not (27). Their conclusion: there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease (32). It was a randomized controlled trial with 46,835 women, who were instructed to eat a low-fat diet. Also, make sure you understand the ground rules to lose weight, so that you don't undo any of your good work. The holiday season is no exception and is actually a great opportunity to show them how much you care. It is easy to make poor food choices when faced with all those sugar-covered treats — especially at Halloween parties.
Also, the food is exposed for a longer period of time to enzymes in your mouth that help break down fat, improving digestion.
The Framingham Cohort Study looked at the health of 5,036 people living in the United States.
If you are planning a vacation, do you map out the route or program it into your GPS before you get in the car?
Croix Orthopaedics, every 15 pounds of excess weight puts 100 pounds more pressure on the body's joints.
Be mindful, though, that eating your lunch at your desk can have negative consequences for your diet.When we eat at our desks, we are often distracted by email, phone calls and other interruptions. They claim this forces the body to use its fat reserves for fuel instead of the carbohydrates quickly available from a pre-workout meal or snack. Focus instead on getting a much more manageable 30 minutes of exercise, five times per week.
The problem is that we consume most of our protein at dinner time when we should be eating the most protein during breakfast to start off our day. The study included a control group, a group of subjects who ate three high-protein meals each day, and a third group who ate high-protein meals six times a day.
We have all been in that situation where we have been invited out to go celebrate a birthday party, anniversary, you name it. According to most proponents of this diet plan, fat should be less than 25 percent of total calorie intake. Some emphasize eating complex carbohydrates found in whole grains and avoiding refined carbohydrates.
Pasta and potatoes should be topped with vegetables, for example, rather than heavy sauces or cheeses.
The researchers also looked at other factors and found the high-carb low-fat group had less hostility, anger and depression than the other group at the end of the year. Some experts question whether emphasizing carbohydrate-rich foods has contributed to an increase in obesity, while others have linked excessive carbohydrate diets with an increase in Type 2 diabetes. Some studies indicate that high fat intake can lead to chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, some cancers and obesity. But it’s still completely possible to enjoy yourself at the party, without going overboard on empty calories.
Often we consume our meals quickly without thinking about them, enjoying them or even really tasting them. After years of being confined to a wheelchair due to her weight, she was able to reclaim her life. The review found that consuming dairy products was related to increased insulin production, a healthier body weight and decreased body fat. The carbohydrate is partly from lactose (milk sugar), which is digested differently than sucrose. The remaining calories are primarily acquired by eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetable and grains, all high carbohydrate foods. These results were consistent with other studies that have found high carbohydrate, low fat and protein diets correspond with lower levels of depression and anxiety and better overall mood. A long-term study found that high-carb low-fat diets do not lead to weight gain as some suspected, but that weight loss was minimal over a seven year period.
Here are some of the best (and worst) gift ideas for your loved ones working towards a healthier lifestyle. These include irregular sleep patterns and unhealthful diets in addition to extended periods of inactivity. Meat and dairy, sources of protein but high in fat, are eaten sparingly and should make up about 15 percent of total calorie intake. A study in an obesity clinic examined the relationship between knowledge of appropriate foods and beverages needed for weight loss and the actual diet of patients seeking obesity treatment. There is controversy about the effectiveness and health benefits of a high-carb low-fat diet. Although the body’s need for fat is generally much lower than the amount of fat eaten in modern diets, it is an essential nutrient necessary for brain development, to metabolize some dietary vitamins and minerals and is an energy source. The study found that although the patients recognized what an appropriate diet plan included, they did not consume an appropriate diet for weight loss. Treatment approaches should include tools that help patients implement their nutrition knowledge.



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