Saturated Fats Are … Good for You?!
The rationale? “Increased consumption of low-fat, fat-free ‘foods’ results in us eating more sugars and carbohydrates. These products don’t satisfy our hunger and leave us wanting to eat more. Eating good animal fat does, so you eat less” (Salon). Who knew!? Yes, it defies everything I have ever learned about diet and nutrition, as is probably the case for you. But if you have 30 minutes, give these videos below a listen – they’re revolutionary … (Thanks to my friend Michael Boutros who posted these on Facebook!)
For a little background on Mary Enig, PhD: “Mary Gertrude Enig, PhD (born 1931) is a nutritionist and researcher known for her unconventional positions on the role fats play in diet and health. Enig was an early opposer of trans fats, years before their dangers were widely accepted. She has continued to promote skepticism towards the scientific consensus that high saturated fat diets lead to heart disease, while she advocates for a diet based in whole foods and rich in certain saturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil and butter.” (from Wikipedia)
Yes, this pretty much confirms that any and all processed, refined – even “low-fat” foods – are unnatural. If we were to eat the way our great-great-grandmothers ate (actually if our lifestyle were similar as a whole, with more physical exercise, and a tighter-knit community), our health would be way better than it is now, and our earth more sustainable than it is now (<–if you click on this link, get ready for a shocker.)
Here’s the catch though: eating saturated fats through animals that are pasture-raised, grass-fed and antibiotic-and-hormone-free (ideally locally sourced from a close-by farm) is essential. If we’re eating saturated fats from conventionally-raised meats, they are loaded with toxins (antibiotics and added hormones) that are deposited in the fat tissue. So I cannot stress the importance of organic here if you will heed this researcher’s advice and introduce whole milk to your diet, for example.
Another good reason to cook using animal fat (as opposed to partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, i.e. trans fats, or oils that don’t withstand high heat):
“Unlike vegetable oils, animal fats are very stable and don’t turn rancid easily. This makes them ideal for cooking, which involves heating the fat. And they have no trans fats.
Animal fats have lots of good fatty acids that fight disease, help absorb vitamins and lower cholesterol. Your body burns the short-chained fatty acids found in animal fats and stores the long-chained ones found in polyunsaturated fat. It is a myth that eating animal fat makes you fat.
But best of all, fat—with its big round molecules—tastes good, it feels good in your mouth, on your tongue and it carries flavors” (Serious Eats).
Oh, and another word about diets in general: while no one diet works for all people, as a general rule of thumb, eating mostly plants and eating healthy saturated fats in quantities that leave us satiated but not full is a good guideline in general. I’m learning that portion control – in relation to the amount of physical activity being exerted throughout the day – is really vital. I don’t count calories, because I find that to be too calculated and unnecessary for a healthy lifestyle (personal choice), but I do think it’s really important to be conscientious about the signals your body is giving you, and the quality of the food you eat.
In other words, as Kristin from Food Renegade says, “if your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as real food, don’t eat it!” Yes, that means ditch most of the packaged stuff, and start spending some time making your food from scratch!
Off to the farmers’ market I go this weekend! :)