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Originally published March 16 2009

Dispel the Myths: The Real Scoop on Saturated Fat

by Elizabeth Walling

(NaturalNews) In the judicial system, it is required that any defendant must be considered innocent until proven guilty. In the world of nutrition, it seems the opposite philosophy reigns. Saturated fats have been vilified for decades. It has been declared that these fats are killing us, although adequate proof has never been shown. Studies which show that saturated fat causes cardiovascular problems rarely take into account the harm caused by factors such as smoking, stress and eating large amounts of refined carbohydrates.

By simple statistics, it is very difficult to find a way to blame saturated fats for heart disease. Since 1910, our consumption of animal fat and butter has decreased drastically. In the case of butter, consumption has decreased from eighteen pounds per year to just four. Why, then, are heart attacks still a leading cause of death? Shouldn't the eradication of butter have solved this dilemma? Sadly, it has not. The enormous number of heart attacks occurring each year alarmingly continues. Increasing our intake of saturated fat is not to blame, because we have only been decreasing it. However, consumption of refined polyunsaturated oils, trans fatty acids and refined sugars has climbed ever higher.

Consider the 1960s study of the nomadic Masai people, whose diet consists mostly of fat, about half of which is saturated. These people are generally lean and with healthy cholesterol counts. They are not somehow invincible to obesity and high cholesterol; instances where Masai men began to eat a modern diet quickly resulted in a sharp rise in cholesterol numbers.

Researchers have continued to search for proof that saturated fat is linked to death from heart attack, and they continue to come up short. In 2000 a group of renowned scientists analyzed 27 studies that included more than 18,000 participants. Known as the Cochrane Collaboration, the group discovered that diets low in saturated fat did not seem to lower overall mortality rates or deaths caused by cardiac arrest. Dr. Lee Harper, who led the study, said, "I was disappointed that we didn't find something more definitive."

Saturated fat should not be thought of as a villain but as a natural substance the body uses for many purposes. For instance:

- Your body cannot use calcium without some saturated fat being present.

- Saturated fats also help us utilize the essential omega-3 fatty acids.

- They protect the liver and improve its function.

- Cell membranes require saturated fat to retain their proper form.

Of course, this doesn't mean you should be shoveling the butter in by the pound. The theory of moderation in all things still rings true, saturated fat included. But if you are severely limiting your intake of saturated fat for health reasons, you may want to reconsider your approach. Saturated fat can be a part of a healthy, natural diet.


About the author

Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:

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