Shifnal Chiropractic Clinic

01952 460 947

Saturated Fats


The media recently covered a story claiming that the advice we have been given in recent years – that saturated fats are bad for us – was in fact wrong.  The story ran they aren’t bad for us at all, and we should be including them as a standard part of our diet.

Trouble is, that’s not the whole picture.  Yes, some fat in our diet is required.  A moderate fat diet has been recommended for the last 40-50 years, and that guideline hasn’t changed.  But the type of fat is important, and it is still true that saturated fats are NOT good for you.  Dietary fat should be kept to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, other plant sources and oily fish.

So where did the confusion come in? The media was reporting on a couple of big, long-term studies which had shown people who had a diet high in saturated fats 20 years ago.  These studies were relying on participants reporting what they were eating at the time (a notoriously unreliable way of getting information regarding diet) and didn’t then follow what they have been eating in the years since.  The participants showed no greater risk of developing coronary disease by the end of the study than those who reported a lower-saturated fat diet.  The national trend, though, has been to move away from saturated fats like those found in butter, so the chances are those who used to eat a lot of saturated fat have not done so for the whole 20 years the study ran.  All this really proves, therefore, is that the effects of eating a lot of saturated fat may be reversible if diet is changed – surely this is actually an argument FOR avoiding saturated fats, not an excuse to plough straight back into cream and butter?!

The evidence against saturated fats is pretty conclusive, after all.  Highly respected studies and analyses of a wide spread of data has shown time after time that saturated fats increase your risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, while substituting in unsaturated fats as a replacement lowers your risk of these diseases.  In fact, in Finland (where they used to have a diet extremely high in saturated fat) there was a correspondingly high risk of coronary disease.  A huge effort was made to push for a healthier diet, higher in the unsaturated fats and away from saturated fat, and a significant drop in the risk of coronary disease was observed.  However, with the increasing popularity of “spreadable” butter (higher in saturated fats) and the start of the confusion over whether these fats were bad for you or not, the consumption of saturated fats in Finland increased.  No prizes for guessing what has also started to increase – yep, levels of cardiovascular disease.

In summary then, a balanced diet that has moderate levels of unsaturated fats can be perfectly healthy, but saturated fats have been shown time and time again to be bad for your heart and circulation health.

On a small aside…The current trend for coconut oil as an alternative is really not a good thing.  Admittedly, it’s not an animal-derived fat, but it is still loaded with saturated fat! Stick to oily fish and things like olive oil, and you won’t go far wrong.

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