Are saturated fats really the villan they are made out to be when it comes to our health? You might be surprised to hear this, but no, they are not. Saturated fats in fact are actually very stable. Think about it–they are solid at room temperatuer and very important for cell structure, hormone production, brain health, and so much more. Our bodies rely on saturated fats for many functions.
Recently a research review of a number of studies looking at saturated fat and health risks was done and the results surprised a lot of people. Here is a snippet of their major findings:
Pooled relative risk estimates demonstrated that high intakes of milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter were not associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality compared with low intakes. High intakes of meat and processed meat were significantly associated with an increased risk of mortality but were associated with a decreased risk in a subanalysis of Asian studies.
Do we still need more research? For meat, I’d say yes. for dairy, it’s very clear that it is actually associated with better health outcomes. One important note is that almost all cohorts used in the different studies included both men and women. We always need to consider this since female bodies are very different from male bodies.
Saturated Fat & Gut Health
There has been research linking processed red meat to colon cancer and it was often thought that it was because of the saturated fat content. Interestingly enough, it’s actually looking like it’s more related to the heme iron content and likely the processing of meat.
A meta-analysis of almost 8000 cases from 19 prospective studies found consumption of red meat and processed meat to be linked with risk of developing both colon and rectal cancer. However, research investigating mechanisms behind this result suggests that these associations are likely to be because of factors outside saturated fat content. Unlike dairy products, meat contains high amounts of heme iron, which has been shown to damage the colonic mucosa in rat models, resulting in a hyperproliferation of the epithelium, which may have carcinogenic effects
Saturated fat from butter is actually helpful for gut health. Chris Masterjohn digs into this more here:
For people who do not tolerate dietary fiber well, or for people with intestinal disorders, consuming butyrate in the diet in the form of butter could theoretically replicate some of the benefits of microbial production of butyrate within the colon.In a small, uncontrolled pilot study,13 thirteen patients with mild to moderate Crohn’s disease were given four grams per day of oral butyrate for eight weeks. Nine of those patients improved, seven of whom experienced complete remission.
Saturated Fat & Hormone Health
How does saturated fat impact our hormones? Since saturated fats are more stable, they are naturally anti-inflammatory. They act very similarly as progesterone does inside the body. Saturated fats and progesterone are both pro-metabolism, meaning they help boost and support a healthy metabolism.
If you remember from previous Feminine Periodicals, a healthy metabolism is essential for healthy hormones. That’s why it is helpful to look at body temp and pulse levels to identify sluggish metabolism/thyroid function.
If you are wanting to learn more about saturated fats and what truly healthy fats look like, I highly recommend reading this article. While we are constantly told that vegetable fats are healthier, that’s just not the case. We need animal foods in order to be healthy. Saturated fats got a bad name for a long time, but the truth is finally starting to come out.
If you’d like to geek out even more, this is another great article by Christ Masterjohn, PhD. He gets deep into the science and has ample resources for review.
One important thing to remember is that we don’t need to go to extremes. Yes, saturated fat is healthy, but this doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat any other types of fat. There will always be small amounts of poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats in the foods we eat. Eat foods you enjoy,
If you’re concerned with poly unsaturated fats, consider supplementing with vitmain E. I have an IG post on it here.
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