Saturated fat is bad for you, right? If you asked 100 people that question, 99 would probably agree with you. We’ve wrongfully vilified this important nutrient for so long, people speak of saturated fat as though they’re certain it’s unhealthy. Most people don’t know that what they’re saying is completely false.
Fortunately, people eventually realized the world wasn’t flat. Hopefully, with the vast number of review papers being published in respected journals, refuting the “saturated fat is bad” mantra, we’ll eventually get the truth out there about saturated fat as well. You can help by getting a better understanding of how this nutrient impacts your health, or even sharing the points below with your friends and family.
7 Reasons Not to Fear Saturated Fats
Strong immune system
Saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid) play key roles in immune health. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Human breast milk is quite rich in myristic and lauric acid, which have potent germ-killing ability. (i)
Improved liver health
Adding saturated fat to the diet has been shown in medical research to encourage the liver cells to dump their fat content. Clearing fat from the liver is the critical first step to calling a halt to middle-body fat storage. Additionally, saturated fat has been shown to protect the liver from the toxic insults of alcohol and medications, including acetaminophen and other drugs commonly used for pain and arthritis, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, and even to reverse the damage once it has occurred.(ii)
Saturated fats is safer than vegetable oils
When vegetable oils are exposed to higher temperatures, they become oxidized. Sautéing and frying with canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and many other vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fats. It’s bad enough to eat them, based on the fact they seem to raise heart disease risk alone. However, cooking with them causes quick oxidation of the fats, creating a lot of free radicals in the food you eat.
You will likely be astounded to learn that your brain is mainly made of fat and cholesterol. Though many people are now familiar with the importance of the highly unsaturated essential fatty acids found in cold-water fish (EPA and DHA) for normal brain and nerve function, the lion’s share of the fatty acids in the brain are actually saturated. A diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats robs your brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally.
Proper nerve signaling
Certain saturated fats, particularly those found in butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil, function directly as signaling messengers that influence metabolism, including such critical jobs as the appropriate release of insulin.(iii)
For proper function, the airspaces of the lungs have to be coated with a thin layer of lung surfactant. The fat content of lung surfactant is 100 percent saturated fatty acids. Replacement of these critical fats by other types of fat makes faulty surfactant and potentially causes breathing difficulties.
Support production of sex hormones
Testosterone plays an important role for men and women in the maintenance or development of lean body mass. Research has shown a diet where saturated fats are replaced with unsaturated fats lowers the production of sex hormones.(iv)