Your guide for achieving optimal health ...
Fats, particularly saturated fats, have been vilified as being the cause of heart disease, some cancers, and the obesity epidemic. Heart disease and cancer were rare in the 1920s, and incidences of these diseases have increased dramatically over the last 85 years. However, contrary to what one would expect if the saturated fat/heart disease hypothesis were true, the consumption of animal fat over the same 85 year span DECREASED by 21% and the consumption of butter DECREASED from eighteen pounds per person per year to only four. It is interesting to note that the consumption of refined vegetable oils much of it consumed as partially hydrogenated or trans fat, over the same time span INCREASED by 400%, and that the consumption of sugar and processed foods INCREASED by 60%.
Dr. William Castelli, the director of the famous 40 year Framingham Heart Study, stated in a 1992 editorial that "... in Framingham Mass., the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person's serum cholesterol ... we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active."
Saturated fats are critical to maintaining the structure and rigidity of our cells by making cell membranes out of phospholipids and cholesterol. Saturated fats are needed for calcium to be effectively incorporated into our bones, and they are needed to boost immune function. Fats also act as enzyme and hormone regulators, and are the base material out of which the body makes cholesterol, which is the precursor to such critical hormones as vitamin D, cortisol, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone, as well as bile acids which are necessary for the digestion of fats. Fats also are needed as carriers for the fat soluble vitamins (the antioxidant vitamins), like vitamin A, E, D, K, and a low fat diet can lead to deficiencies in these nutrients. Fat is also needed to feel satisfied after a meal. Mary Enig says in her book Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer For Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol that "as a result of the presence of fat in the small intestine, special hormones are produced that prevent hunger contractions. ... Too much fat in the diet and the loss of weight is thwarted; too little and the hunger pangs play havoc with good intentions and usually lead to overeating carbohydrates."
If you are eating high quality fats, such as pasture fed, non-medicated, organic eggs, dairy, poultry, and meat, you are doing your body good. If you are eating conventionally raised poultry and meat, it is a good idea to cut off the fat, as the medications, hormones and pesticides consumed by the animal will be concentrated in the fat, which will in turn be concentrated in your fat. Cook only with organic butter, ghee, organic coconut oil, or unrefined or cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (low to medium temperatures only).
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Castelli, William, Archives of Internal Medicine July 1992, 152:7:1371-1372.
Enig, Mary; Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer For Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol Bethesda Press, Silver Spring, MD, 2003.
Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary; Nourishing Traditions, Revised 2nd Edition NewTrends Publishing Inc., Washington, D.C., 2001