I’ve noticed an inspiring turn of events. People within the Paleo community are reversing Fat-Phobia.
Maligned since the 1970s, when questionable research steamrolled into the anti-fat movement (followed by over 30 years of progressively declining public health), Fat may be poised for a comeback.
I have noticed, however, that as much as we Paleo folk love our nuts, avocados, and olive oil, there is still some confusion over Saturated Fat. Just recently I saw a little Facebook Sat-Fat-Fear-Mongering on the part of an excellent Paleo-oriented gym. I wanted to reach out, give that gym a hug, and tell them not to be scared of their bacon and beef tallow.
According to Ph.D Mary Enig, a well-respected researcher of fats and author of Know Your Fats, fear of Sat Fat is rooted in the profiteering of the commercial cooking oil companies – the Soybean Oil Guys, among others.
While I don’t see the word “conspiracy” being thrown around with regards to this subject, I tend to believe if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…It’s probably trying to sell you Soybean Oil.
“Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.”
So says Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories. Taubes has spent over fifteen years on the research, evaluation, and synthesis of thousands of so-called “studies” on health and the connection between diet, obesity, and traditional health markers like cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.
As far back as the late-1980s, results of a women’s health study indicated that more fat and saturated fat consumption correlated with less breast cancer. The Nurses Health Study indicated as recently as 1999 that “for every 5 percent of saturated-fat calories that replaced carbohydrates in the diet, the risk of breast cancer decreased by 9 percent.”
And yet I just listened to a radio ad extolling the virtues of a vegetarian diet (almost certainly a low-fat lifestyle) for cancer treatment and prevention.
According to Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind, Sat Fats from naturally-occurring sources like eggs, grass-fed animal fats and coconut oil raise “good” cholesterol, convert essential omega-3 fatty acids to EPA and DHA (essential for vision, among other things), assist in fat-soluble nutrient absorption, strengthen the immune system, and aid in normal hormone production. Our brains and the protective structure around our hearts are largely composed of Sat Fats.
And to think I spent years drinking the sugar-filled Sat Fat Haterade.
Beyond these obvious benefits, Sat Fats are extremely stable and less vulnerable to oxidation than polyunsaturated fats and even monounsaturated fats like olive oil. I almost always cook with SatFats. According to Dr. Eades of Protein Power:
“Saturated fats aren’t prone to free radical attack-only unsaturated fats can be damaged by free radicals.”
Eades also says that Sat Fats are “immune to heat damage. You can cook with them, you can hit them with a hammer, you can throw them on the floor and jump up and down on them. And they stay the same. Saturated fats are stable fats.”
Not only am I going straight home to start hitting various foods with a hammer (Gallagher-style), I’m going to enjoy myself some eggs, scrambled up in coconut oil, with a side of bacon.
– Mary Enig, Know Your Fats
– Nora Gedgaudas, Primal Body, Primal Mind
– Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories