These New Findings Prove Saturated Fat Is Here to Stay
In February 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) turned over their scientific report to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Human Health Services (HHS).
The findings in this report were used to revise the USDA Dietary Guidelines. Their new report is intended to outline an ideal diet that can improve your health and regulate your weight. It is also intended to inform any nutritional policies to be adopted or implemented by the organization.
Two remarkable changes stood out in this report: the removal of warnings on dietary cholesterol and the change on the stance on healthy fats.
For years, both dietary cholesterol and healthy fats were vilified for their supposed health risks, and now it’s good to see that their name has been cleared and their many benefits are finally being recognized.
Scientific Research Backs up These Changes
The change in the scientific consensus on dietary cholesterol and healthy fats didn’t come out of the blue, but was the result of exhaustive research. In a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) paper, the DGAC report showed that:
“Reducing total fat (replacing total fat with overall carbohydrates) does not lower CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk … Dietary advice should put the emphasis on optimizing types of dietary fat and not reducing total fat.' ...
In finalizing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services should follow the evidence-based, scientifically sound DGAC report and remove the existing limit on total fat consumption."
The panel that created the report also established three major points:
- Overconsumption was not associated with cholesterol (removing its supposed link to heart disease)
- There was no link between total fat intake and your risks for both heart disease and obesity
- If there were culprits responsible for different health problems today, it would be excess sugar and refined grains.
Don’t Take Saturated Fats for Granted
While this DGAC report cleared the image of dietary cholesterol and healthy fats, it failed to acknowledge the difference between saturated fats and trans fats. These two types of fat are different from each other, especially when you weigh their impact on human health.
Your body benefits from a diet where 50 to 80 percent of your daily calories from come from saturated fat sources. When you eat more saturated fats and lessen your consumption of carbohydrates, you retune your body to burn fat instead of sugar, paving the way for these benefits:
- Deliver building blocks for cell membranes, hormones and hormone-like substances
- Provide you with a concentrated source of “clean” energy for your brain and mitochondria
- Convert carotene into vitamin A
- Assist with mineral absorption
- Serve as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)
- Enable satiety
Omega-3 fatty acids coming from marine animals (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] and plant sources (alpha-linoleic acid [ALA]) are another class of fats that can give your body a health boost. Omega-3s can help:
- Enhance heart, skin, joint and bone health
- Maintain and regulate cholesterol triglyceride levels
- Combat depression and anxiety
- Fight inflammation
- Lessen risk for heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, various cancers, and other diseases
The benefits to be derived from saturated fats and omega-3 are not available in a low-fat diet. Your body needs a constant supply of healthy fat for it to thrive, so you’re depriving yourself of much-needed energy when you lower your fat intake.
Low-fat products have been proven to be counterproductive for people losing weight. Studies have shown that low-fat dairy is linked to rising chronic disease rates, and does not make any difference at all in lowering your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes when compared to people who eat full-fat dairy.
These positive impacts are not available in a diet loaded with trans fats. These are found in the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils used in food items that most Americans eat today. Excess consumption of trans fats results in:
- Higher amounts of small and dense LDL particles, considered to be known heart disease contributors
- Increased risk for memory impairment
- Oxidative stress that causes cellular damage
- Inhibition of prostacyclin synthesis that’s required for blood flow
More Healthy Fats in Your Diet = More Benefits
If improving your overall health is one of your main goals, make sure to add healthy fat to your diet. Some good choices for saturated fats include:
- Olives and olive oil for cold dishes
- Coconuts and coconut oil for all types of cooking and baking
- Raw, grass-fed butter
- Raw nuts, such as macadamias and pecans
Make sure to complement these healthy fats with unlimited amounts of fresh and organically grown vegetables and moderate portions of grass-fed meats. Above all, strive to time your meals, since when you eat plays just as big a role as to what you eat. I recommend intermittent fasting, a conscious lifestyle choice that embraces this principle.
Fasting intermittently involves a six- to eight-hour window of eating time, while fasting for the remainder of the day. When you make intermittent fasting a part of your daily routine, it can:
- Reduce your weight
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Decrease oxidative stress and inflammation
- Lessen your risk for cancer and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s
- Stimulate autophagy or mitophagy wherein the body detoxifies and removes damaged cells
- Normalize your weight
- Maintain insulin and leptin sensitivity and ghrelin (“hunger hormone”) levels
- Improve mitochondrial health and energy efficiency
- Boost brain function
Given our advances in knowledge on healthy fats, it’s about time to quash the fears surrounding these healthy foods. Far from the dietary villains of food pyramids past — healthy fats are the bold heroes that could improve your health.
Find out more about burning fat for fuel, the DGAC’s findings and how these can benefit you, through reading my latest book, Fat For Fuel, and the article “Will New 2015 Dietary Guidelines Reverse Four Decades of Foolish Fat Phobia?”