We all love eating saturated fat. Saturated fat is stable when heated and tastes great. Saturated fat is unfairly blamed for a lot of things. Kurt Harris eats a ton of saturated fat, and he has forgotten more than most of us will ever know.
Saturated fat is often compared to eating too many carbs or too much PUFA. I already know that carbs and PUFA aren't great in high amounts, but how does saturated fat stack up against MUFA? I have seen many more peer-reviewed articles pointing to saturated fat detriments than MUFA detriments. Part of this is due to publication bias, but part of it is real research. I'm not talking dumb cohort studies, I mean well-conducted trials that show some detriment with high saturated fat diets or individual meals, with regards to inflammation, carcinogenesis, etc. Of course, the evidence goes both ways, but it it not 100% pro saturated fat.
MORE IMPORTANTLY...it did not seem like ancient paleos ate quite as much saturated fat as we do. We douse our veggies in butter, pan-fry things in ghee and coconut oil, and savor whole cream and coconut milk. Paleos probably ate game meat, muscle and organ, with some tubers, fruit, veggies, etc. That menu appears to contain more MUFA and less saturated fat than our typical modern paleo diets. I'm not talking a lean-meat diet like early Loren Cordain, but I don't imagine they pan-fried stuff in added fat as much as we do.
Has anybody delved more into this? Except for the occasional population who ate tons of coconut, I can't see that many areas where people ate as much saturated fat as I do on a daily basis. Some genotypes may be more susceptible to things like familial hypercholesterolimia, and I wonder if some of us are eating too much saturated fat for our genotype unwittingly. Especially if epigenetic changes, or even normal genetic changes, have made our response to saturated fat different in the last 10,000 years. I'm reminded of that dubious saying that has a kernel of truth...you are what your grandparents ate.
Why focus on eating Sat Fat or Mufa? Eat animals that ate what they were supposed to.
I think artificially inflating fat is about as helpful as a multivitamin.
The whole point is "Eat Real Food"
I think sometimes we forget this and get excited about reading things to our diets.
Ideally a metabolic advantage would have to be shown to justify extra sat fat for me. Until then, I'll enjoy my Wild Food.
Where are any good studies that show saturated fat to be a detriment? I've seen some that found it neutral and I've seen some that found it protective, like from alcoholic liver damage. I haven't seen any that have found damage or negative effects. Instead, what I often see written are words like 'Everyone knows' or 'Studies suggest' and then there are no citations to back it up. And I don't count cross cultural epidemiological studies as decent evidence. They've been working hard to show saturated fat is bad for you. If it's true, by now there should be plenty of causal data! Yet I have not seen it. Please save me some time and cite your sources.
I often wonder this. Many of us eat our fair share of butter and coconut oil and beef fat and bacon and ghee and cream. all good fats. I eat all of those myself. but is 70% fat intake REALLY ok long term? I eat salads and veggies and fruits and safe starches too, but the amount of fat I consume on purpose is quite high.
I am extremely fit and strong as a bull. I am very fast, have lots of energy, and physically I feel 19 still. BUT sometimes I do have a burning sensation in my chest. I had a fairly bad case of heartburn when I switched to low-carb paleo. It's mostly subsided now, but not completely gone. Honestly it's an unsettling feeling at times. And I've also felt the 'fast heartbeat' that I've heard some others talk about before. I often wonder if the high fat consumption will prove to be incorrect years from now, when it's too late for many of us. This was at the crux behind my post of Incessant Gorging.
We all love the satiety of the good fats. It is a very satisfying food, no doubt, and we all look to multiple sources for sound info, but are we placing too much trust at the hands of the people that we believe wholeheartedly have this figured out?
We live once. This is a great question Kamal.
I'm going to answer with another question, and hopefully keep the conversation going. When Jimmy Moore interviewed Kurt Harris, Jimmy asked him at some point why he hadn't put up a post about saturated fat and its benefits. Dr. Harris basically answered that there were enough other people out there posting about it (presumably Peter and Stephan?) that he didn't have to. But as far as I know Peter and Stephan are mostly defending saturated fat against the claim that it is bad. What Dr. H seemed to be saying, on the other hand, was that saturated fat is not just non-bad, but also specifically a positive good. He said something like this (paraphrase): "It's just so obvious to me, as a physician and a nutrition enthusiast, that saturated fat is not only not bad for you, but is actually your body's preferred source of fuel" . . . And then he went on to talk about something else -- leaving me yelling: no . . . Jimmy! . . . don't let him move on to another topic! It was like Fermat scribbling in the margins that he had a quick and easy proof of his theorem and then just forgetting about it.
So what is it then? Because I've noticed something about the way we've been discussing this (including myself here of course). If the only thing we can come up with as the positive good for saturated fat is that it doesn't oxidize as readily, both in the pan and in the body, then why are we letting monounsaturated fat off the hook? Because it is also one of our more or less basic beliefs that excess polyunsaturated fat is bad for you, and that it's bad for you because it oxidizes so readily (leading some to even suggest it as the real culprit in heart disease, like Masterjohn; PUFAs are just more "reactive"). But if this is the case, then, to put it crudely, isn't monounsaturated fat just somewhere between polyunsaturated and saturated? (In that there is one pair of carbon atoms without two hydrogens bonded on each instead of two pairs, or three pairs, or whatever.) And if this is so, why are we asking if we're eating too much saturated fat? Shouldn't we be asking if we're eating too much monounsaturated fat?
Is it just because we think we have evidence from good research showing us why saturated is bad? Is it just the anthropological/ecological evidence about what an animal's body usually contains? Couldn't the "just so obvious" argument that Dr. H never gave us overrule this? Couldn't my argument about oxidation overrule this? Bring it on.
The transition from paleolithic to neolithic coincides with the end of a 100,000 year long ice age, so our ancestors were creatures of a cold climate. At least those of European ancestry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ice_Age_Temperature.png Cold climate hunter-gatherers eat a lot of fat. The mega fauna of neolithic Europe and North America, cave bears, ground sloth, mammoth probably would have all carried a fair amount of body fat as would marine mammals, seal, walrus, etc. . It seems likely to me that they would have saved fat for times of poor hunting in the form of pemmican, dried blubber etc. as cold climate hunter gatherers generally have done in historic times.
or example, Andrew (Anders) Sparrman (1785), a Swedish naturalist, provides an interesting and fairly detailed early
description of the importance of the male eland as a rich source of fat: " This animal [“Cape-elk” or eland] has a great deal of fat, especially about the heart: from an old male which we gave chase to and shot, we got such a quantity of fine and tender fat, as we could with difficulty get into a box that would hold about ten pounds of butter. As at the commencement of our journey homewards through the desert, the hounds we had with us had unluckily devoured our stock of butter, a farmer, who still accompanied us, showed us how to prepare the fat from about the heart of the elk, and to use it for dressing victuals with, and for eating on bread in the same manner as is generally practised with goose-grease and hogs-lard. The taste of it also was very similar to these, and to the full as good; and, indeed, if I may be supposed to have been able to form any judgment of the matter at a time when we were so sharp set, and in absolute want of any thing else of the kind, it was rather better.The breast is likewise extremely fat, and is always looked upon as a great delicacy. The flesh is universally of a finer grain, more juicy and better tasted than that of the hart-beest."
"The male elks [elands], which are rather aged; and consequently slow and tardy keep apartfrom the rest of the herd; and are generally so fat and heavy, as, in case of being chased, to tire immediately on the first onset. And indeed, of the elk species, the males are always the fattest and largest in the herd, and have evidently a fuller neck than the others; it is likewise these, that the hunter singles out and is sure to come up with first. I have been assured by several people, that some of the younger and fleeter, but at the same time fatter sort of bucks, will sometimes, when they are hard run, drop down dead during the chase; and, that melted fat, as it were, together with the blood, would at that time gush out of their nostrils."
Sparrman (1785:209)Sparrman (1785:209)
From John D. Speth: The Paleoanthropology and Archaeology of Big-Game Hunting: Protein, Fat, or Politics?
Elands are very common in paleolithic deposits and there is indication they were preferentially targeted.
Don at Primal Wisdom is rapidly building his arsenal against high-fat paleo:
For an academic discussion of differing views on the saturated-fat-in-relation-to-heart-disease issue see the March 2010 issue of AJCN - several papers/editorial commentary on what the literature indicates.
Why do you think humans in the paleolithic era preferentially ate muscle and organ meat, when the main source of calories from big game is body fat, to the tune of hundreds of pounds?
If body fat was discarded in preference of muscle and organs, why did paleolithic humans so often expend the effort to crack open large, weight-bearing bones in order to get at the marrow (mostly fat)?
To me it is a matter of common sense that any predator is going to consume a kill as fully as possible. That applies to every other species of predator I have ever heard of. Additionally, most of them first go for the most nutrient-rich sources (organs in the abdomen and head) and then for the main calorie source (fat). Muscle meat being the lowest priority.
I can't think of any reasonable explanation for humans who hunted to live and feed their children expending the insane effort needed to track, hunt, kill, butcher, and transport an animal and then discarding most of the payoff. Of course they ate lots of fat. And unlike muscle meat and organs, saturated animal fat can be refined, stored, and reused safely without refrigeration for some time.