The truth about fats has been muddled in poor research, special interests, and now more than half a century later, an embarrassing conclusion to the human experiment we have been. In the late 1950’s Ancel Keys theorized, based on some questionable research, that saturated fats may have a leading role in heart disease. Then Nathan Pritikin pushed that into including obesity. Actually, what Pritikin advocated was the elimination of processed foods, particularly sugar, and white flour, and to replace them with wholesome, fresh, raw foods, to include a good exercise program, and to lower fat intake. The low fat aspects were jumped on because an entire food industry could see the potential increase in market sales. This was new and exciting, and as Americans were becoming alarmed at the increase in cardiovascular disease and waist lines, they too embraced the theory.
Although the natural health populace has questioned to a degree the validity of this theory, the overwhelming push into it caused even the most astute to question their own thoughts and they too adopted the low fat craze. Now decades later, with cardiovascular and other diseases skyrocketing, obesity at an all-time high worldwide, despite a dangerously LOW intake of fats, they are going back to the roots of what they knew deep inside to be true. We need fats.
But not all fats are the same. We’ve known that, but we’ve accused the wrong fats of being good, and the good fats of being bad. I’d like to evaluate some of the good fats that have been demonized, and are now enjoying a rapid comeback.
Butter. Nothing is quite like butter. It has many nutritional benefits. Butterfat contains short, medium and long chain fatty acids (FA’s). Short-chain FA’s protect us from pathogenic bacteria, viruses and yeasts and are used for quick energy. Medium chain FA’s are the same, plus added immune functions. Long chain FA’s are needed for making hormones and for nervous system function. Butter contains Vitamins A, D, K2 and E. It also contains a factor nicknamed the “anti-stiffness factor”.
Coconut Oil with short and medium chain fatty acids are protective, help immune function and are used by the body for quick energy. Coconut oil has received some notoriety recently because of its benefit with Alzheimer’s disease. It also appears to benefit how the body uses insulin, improves “good” cholesterol, supports thyroid function, and overall improvement to skin, hair and nails.
Lard has been used for thousands of years – especially those years before heart disease and obesity were rampant like they are now. It is one of the safest oils to heat and is a long chain fatty acid, so is used for nervous system function and hormonal health. I do not recommend using lard from commercial pigs as growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. store in the fatty tissue.
The truth about fat is we need fat. Good fat. No more avoiding “saturated fats”, but focus on healthy fats as above.
©2015 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.