Saturated Fat – It’s Healthy – It’s Not Dangerous

SATURATED FAT IS GOOD FOR YOU

Yes, you read that right. Saturated fat is GOOD for you. Now before you dismiss this as pure quackery, here are a couple of qualifications:sat

  • Trans-fat, often associated with saturated fat, is bad for you, quite bad for you in fact.
  • Saturated fat from animals raised in unsanitary conditions (feed lots, for instance), may be loaded with all sorts of undesirable stuff.
  • Saturated fat is a political hot potato for reasons having little to do with health or nutrition.

So yes, there is low quality saturated fat. Here are three examples of high quality saturated fat:

  • Mother’s milk.
  • Butter from healthy animals.
  • Meat from healthy grass fed animals.

Now here are certain accusations frequently hurled at saturated fat that are not true (at least not true for high quality fat):

  • Saturated fat will increase your cholesterol – not true at all.
  • Saturated fat causes heart disease – no, it is protective.
  • Saturated fat will make you fat – it will not.
  • Saturated fat is hard for your body to metabolize – not at all. It is the preferred macro-nutrient.

We can take these one at a time. Let’s start with cholesterol, a very misunderstood biochemical. Cholesterol is essential for cell wall integrity. Your body tightly regulates the amount circulating in your blood. The liver makes cholesterol. It will use any you eat and make up the rest from scratch. Saturated fat is associated with but is not cholesterol, your liver will use any you ate. If you didn’t eat any, it would make more. It doesn’t matter if you eat a lot or a little, the amount of circulating cholesterol will stay the same.

There are many high quality studies indicating that the consumption of saturated fat is either beneficial, or in any case, not harmful. Earlier data on saturated fat often included trans-fats, a man-made product which is quite harmful. They are still often lumped together. (Trans-fat that ‘mother nature’ makes, palm oil for instance, is not harmful at all.) The continuing research on saturated fat seems endless. From 1/11/15,  “Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology”, we have an article entitled “Dietary fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in men: The Kuopio ischemic heart disease risk factor study”, by Virtanen JK, et al. Their conclusions:

The results suggest that SFA [saturated fat] intake is not an independent risk factor for CHD [cardiac heart disease], even in a population with higher ranges of SFA intake.”  

Surprisingly, the study found that monounsaturated fat, was associated with increased risk of heart disease. Polyunsaturated fat was associated with reduced risk of heart disease.

This is the latest in a long series of research results exonerating saturated fat. A surprise in this one is the idea that monounsaturated fat is bad for you. This is the same monounsaturated fat that has been pushed for the last 25 years.

Saturated fat doesn’t make you fat. Anyone familiar with the Atkins Diet knows that. If your insulin is high, the body will store everything you eat as fat, be it carbs, fat, or whatever. But what makes insulin high? Carbs only. Fat does not. This is why the Atkins Diet works. There will be a post coming soon called “The Unified Theory of Fat”, which explains in detail when and why the body decides to store or burn fat.

Saturated fat is hard to metabolize. This claim is often made. In fact, it is the easiest macro-nutrient to metabolize. For crying out loud the proof is right there in the arithmetic: fat has 9 kcals/gm of energy and carbs just 4. Glucose (what all carbs break down into before entering the bloodstream) is more difficult, as are the unsaturated fats.

There is very interesting data on heart disease versus diet by country. The country that eats the most saturated fat is France. They also have the lowest rate of heart disease. Other countries high in saturated fat consumption follow this trend. The consistency is amazing – the more saturated fat – the less heart disease.  This is raw data, not adjusted in any way.

A lot of literature demonizes saturated fat. Typically one hears that meat production is not sustainable, that it is a poor use of land, and that it is cruel to raise animals for food. Whether these are true or not won’t be argued today, but none of these have any direct impact on our health.

Unfortunately, the organizations that tend to promulgate these various positions seem to have no reservation about throwing health on the table as well, hoping perhaps to appeal to a wider audience.

But there simply aren’t negative health consequences from consuming saturated fat. We thrive on saturated fat, and we do not thrive on grain – even whole grain. Sorry, that’s just how we are.


To learn about Trans-Fat, which really is bad, click here.

To learn what happens to all the fat you eat, click here.

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  5 comments for “Saturated Fat – It’s Healthy – It’s Not Dangerous

  1. Diane
    March 5, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I am having such a hard time determining what fats are good and which are bad. I just read on the website form the American Heart Association that saturated fat is bad for you and should try to be avoided. Now you are saying it is good for you.

    • March 5, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Diane,
      I am sorry this issue is so confounding. The large scale well done trials are universal in showing saturated fats are not bad for you. More than that they show that any attempt to replace them with other fats or combinations of macronutrients are frankly bad for you. In that sense saturated fats are actively good for you. In the same way that institutional medicine has only this year granted that dietary cholesterol is not harmful though this has been known for decades it will be awhile yet before a similar institutional admission is made about saturated fats. For now it is more an issue of PR, diplomacy and legal liability that has them more or less leak out the truth of these past errors. Dr. Mike

    • January 25, 2017 at 6:28 am

      I’ve been looking for a post like this forever (and a day)

  2. September 20, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I am take 36,00 units Creon a day for my Panicretis.sorry spelled wrong. Need to know what is total fat’s in a daily diet and which fat group to stay a way from. Thank you all area’s I look up doesn’t say….

  3. JOE
    June 6, 2016 at 10:39 am

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK,LOOKING FORWARD TO THE LATEST INFO.

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