Saturated Fat and Cholesterol: Friends, not Foes
After more than half a century of a fearful smear campaign against cholesterol and saturated fats, we have become a society terrified of both. Our government, with the help of many individuals and companies, made it their agenda for many decades to scare the bejesus out of us on this topic. It's not our fault that we are scared, but now we know better. With modern science, we now know the information that came out in the 50's is completely irrelevant, and that neither saturated fat nor cholesterol is to be blamed for heart disease. Today, it’s widely agreed within scientific circles that a) saturated fat isn’t correlated with raising cholesterol, and b) cholesterol consumption isn’t at all correlated with heart disease. Oh, and it won't make you fat either.
Why the government recommendations aren’t catching up isn’t really a surprise. The pharmaceutical companies have a billion dollar industry selling cholesterol lowering drugs, and attended by the largest lobby in the U.S. This has created a sort of "vegetable oil mafia" that makes sure we are constantly vigilant about saturated fats (remember the big coconut oil scare this year from a study funded by the canola oil society?). So while we wait for the the government to catch up at the expense of human health, I’ll tell you the truth :) I’ll show you why we’re scared of these fats, why we needn’t be, and why I insist that 2 million years of humans eating saturated fats in abundance, sans heart disease, is the greatest long term study ever accomplished.
The Most Compact History of Fat-Phobia Ever
Our fear of saturated fat and cholesterol arose in the mid 1900’s amongst the rise of heart disease. In reality it was a terrifying epidemic, one where men (mostly) were dropping dead left and right from heart attacks and no one knew WHY. In 1960 alone there were 500,000 recorded deaths from heart attacks, up from 3,000 in 1930. That was scary, and people wanted answers.
This is where 2 stories in history planted a seed that grew roots lasting to today. One is the lipid-hypothesis, that high cholesterol equals heart disease, and the other is the diet-heart hypothesis, that saturated fat increases cholesterol. Both of these are hypotheses because neither was ever truly proven (and now are un-proven), but they got a foot hold in our culture from a driven man determined to prove them right: Ancel Keys. Keys was famous for inventing the K-ration, and was an egotistical man who really wanted to show the world that saturated fat caused heart disease. He obtained funding to study this, which resulted in a "7 country study" that was skewed beyond skewed to prove his point. No, there wasn't science to back it up, but through charisma, machismo, and a prime time television show Keys was able to shove his theories into the forefront of a fearful public.
What Keys told us was that he could correlate saturated fat consumption with heart disease through his study of 7 countries. He then chose 7 countries that proved him right. If you see the picture on the right, though, you’ll notice he ignored every other country that proved this theory wrong. Not included on this graph are traditional peoples diets, which is why this next picture below is great. It shows peoples eating 50-60% fats in their diet have the lowest amount of heart disease of all!
But like I said, he got his claws in the American psyche, and unfortunately at the same time as the rise of industrial seed oils (i.e. vegetable oils). Keys more or less laid the red carpet for these villains to walk down, so much so that soon after you have Harvard recommending 1 cup of corn oil/day to replace healthy saturated fat (sponsored by the corn oil industry, no joke)! Seriously, this is murder.
As for cholesterol, this myth has been debunked for years in the scientific community. We now know that cholesterol levels aren’t directly related to heart disease (75% of heart attack patient had normal cholesterol), but are more of a marker that there is inflammation of some sort in the body that needs healing. Instead of causing the damage, high cholesterol levels signal something big needs healing in your body, and is the reason why cholesterol levels rise dramatically after you're sick, stressed, or injured. Once you're healthy again, they fall back down.
If you want some proof, there's lots. This 2014 study shows higher levels of both total cholesterol and LDL-C were found to be associated with a reduced risk of death in individuals aged 85 over a 10 year follow up period. In a 2013 study, researchers analyzed cholesterol levels versus risk of death in almost 120,000 adults living in Denmark and found that having higher than recommended levels of total cholesterol was associated with a reduced risk of death.
And, if you're bored of statistics I recommend just watching this 2 minute video that says it all :)
Why is the government then still following the recommendations from 40 years ago, information we all know is bogus??? Well, most likely it's money. Today the vegetable oil and pharmaceutical industry have their reach in every arm of the USDA, American Heart Association, FDA, and more. Big Ag and Big Pharma together are holding together this fat phobia because they make Big Bucks doing it. I mean, check out how the American Heart Association makes money, by “selling” its logo to put on low-fat foods like these junk food options on the left! Knowing what I know now, I would never put any of these foods in my body, but the AHA makes a lot of $$ fooling good hearted people into thinking these sugar-laden foods are good for their hearts, and for their kids.
That’s why you recently saw a hysteria put out by the American Heart Association that coconut oil is bad for you because it’s full of saturated fat. Who was a major funder of the study? The canola oil industry. Sigh.
If you feel lied to, you should. Check out this graph that shows how obesity has risen 128% and extreme obesity is up 329% since the introduction of the U.S. recommended low-fat diet. Not to mention heart disease is now the number one killer in the US today!!! And that’s with the majority of Americans following the low-fat recommendations. What's the real cause? Sugar and vegetable oil, the exact items these companies are profiting off of, and items that are causing mass inflammation throughout our entire population. Something has gone totally wrong here, akin to murder in my eyes, and only a handful of companies are winning from the fallacies of the diet-heart hypothesis, at the expense of good people dying while listening to their advice.
Why your endo body needs saturated fat and cholesterol
Want the truth about saturated fat? It’s good for you. And so is eating cholesterol rich foods such as egg yolks, one of the most nutrient dense and brain building foods in the world.
Saturated fat is used to make up half of your cellular membranes, a key component in your bodies ability to communicate and function. Animal based saturated fats also contain enormous amounts of essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K2, and E. Weston Price, who travelled the world to study traditional diets, was able to document how traditional diets had 10x more the amount of fat soluble vitamins than Americans at the time (in the 1930’s). While the mineral consumption seemed to fluctuate between cultures, no matter which continent he landed on he found over and over that peoples were consuming liberal amounts of these fat soluble vitamins in the form of… animal products. Yup, animal fats are the only ones carrying A, D, and K2. Why would they be essential in such high amounts if we weren't supposed to eat animal fat?
Saturated fats are also needed for proper liver function, as they help the liver dump excess fat cells so it can function properly (here) and can help people clear up middle-body fat storage, the type associated with diabetes. It's also been shown to help protect the liver from the abuse of toxins, pharmaceuticals, and NSAIDS, so if you're an endo girl on pain meds it's quite important to incorporate this liver nutrient into your diet.
Cholesterol is another nutrient our bodies need, especially our endo bodies! Sex hormones are derived from cholesterol, so for so many of us who have a severe progesterone deficiency (seen through incredible PMS, spotting before period, and infertility), one of the first things to do is eat more cholesterol. That’s another reason why we can so justify eating pastured butter, egg yolks, and grass fed beef: it will actually help balance your hormones.
That’s why it’s time to start eating fat! Not just any fat, but very specific fats, fats like grass-fed butter, pastured lard and tallow, cold pressed flax, hemp, or avocado oil, coconut, almond, sesame, egg yolks, and more! Check out my following pages to best understand which fats will heal and which will hurt.