In doing research for my book, I came upon several reputable sources that were clearly against all forms of saturated fats. But knowing what I know now, despite these sources, I could not, in good conscience, name these fats “bad.” There are some really healthy and even beneficial qualities to consuming them.
Not all saturated fats are created equal. For decades, professionals have been saying that coconut oil was bad for your heart because of its high saturated fat content. There is still a controversy brewing in the health community. The fact is, coconut oil contains lauric acid – a form of saturated fat which promotes good HDL cholesterol.[i] [ii] [iii] Coconut oil is mostly comprised of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which are much easier for the body to process than your typical long chain triglycerides (LCT) that are found in other sources of fat.[iv] [v] [vi] [vii]
Some in the health community preach that coconut oil is bad for the heart, and also is the cause for weight gain because of its fat content. Based on the evidence that I uncovered, this argument is completely blown out of the water. Consider a study entitled, “A coconut extra virgin oil-rich diet increases HDL cholesterol and decreases waist circumference and body mass in coronary artery disease patients.” [viii]
Just the name of the study alone asserts that coconut oil increases good cholesterol and promotes weight loss. The conclusion is equally as powerful, especially that the study was conducted on mostly elderly patients with coronary artery disease, who lost the weight and increased their good cholesterol. [ix] What that means is that even though some in the health community believe that coconut oil is bad for cardiovascular system and promotes weigh gain, this study rips their argument to shreds.
Talking about weight. Consider a study on women that shows that consuming coconut oil helps to reduce “abdominal obesity”.[x]
How about another study entitled, “Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil”.[xi] The conclusion was equally as exciting, even though we know that olive oil has beneficial qualities.
“In conclusion, the results of this study show that a weight-loss diet that incorporates moderate amounts of MCT oil leads to greater losses of body weight and fat mass than does consumption of an equivalent amount of olive oil.”
(St-Onge & Bosarge, 2008)[xii]
Once again, coconut oil is mostly comprised of medium chain triglycerides or MCT’s.
There are more studies that show the benefits of coconut oil, but I believe that you get the picture. The fact is that unrefined extra virgin coconut oil does not produce an Insulin spike unlike sugars, simple carbohydrates, or even whole grains. More on that in Chapter 24 where we will be uncovering how Insulin affects our entire existence.
Draw your own conclusion about whether you want to consume or stay away from coconut oil. My family and I enjoy it tremendously while maintaining healthy cholesterol numbers, unlike what was preached to us over the years of low-fat/ fat-free/ cholesterol-free misery at the doctor’s office! We add extra coconut oil to all of our meals in order to maintain satiety.
Besides coconut oil, here are some examples where you can find saturated fat; some are good, and some are not:
- Milk, cheese, butter, cream, ice-cream or other dairy products (not skim or fat-free). You already know about dairy products as part of the “What not to eat” chapter
- Lard, for as long as the animal was grass fed with an ample supply of Vitamin A.[xiii] Therefore, grass fed organic would be my only choice in order to obtain fat soluble vitamins from this and other types of fat
- Meat with fat “marbling” or fatty cuts. Once again, meat has to be organic and grass fed
- Poultry with skin; grass fed and organic
- Palm oil or palm kernel oil – “… also consists of vitamins A and E, which are powerful antioxidants. Palm oil has been scientifically shown to protect the heart and blood vessels from plaques and ischemic injuries. Palm oil consumed as a dietary fat as a part of a healthy balanced diet does not have incremental risk for cardiovascular disease.” (Odia, Ofori, & Maduka, 2015) [xiv]
- Eggs –approximately 2.6 grams of unsaturated and 1.5 grams of saturated fat [xv] in one large egg, mostly in the yolk. Pasture raised organic is the key, as yolk in the organic eggs contains the highest amount of protein when compared to conventional eggs.[xvi] Furthermore, eggs from pasture raised hens contain higher Vitamins A, E, and Omega-3 fatty acids.[xvii]
- Stick margarine is one of those foods that may contain trans fats and other undesirable ingredients,[xviii] thus I would consider it an “almost food” that I would not eat myself or feed to my kids
- Fully or partially hydrogenated oil, or any type of trans fat is off the menu, as you’ve read in “What not to eat” chapter.