Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?
It is important to know the facts about saturated fat, because there are different opinions on this topic.
If you get it wrong, there may be serious health consequences as a result.
I think you agree that it is important to have a healthy cardiovascular system, because the blood is supplying the tissue with nutrients. It is especially important for the heart. Any chance that the blood supply to the heart gets compromised, you will be in big trouble.
If somebody claims that saturated fat is healthy, and it will not increase your cholesterol, a reference with good evidence should be provided. Moreover, if the author is not providing any evidence, or is referring to an article in the popular press, the author is only presenting his or her opinion.
You need evidence in the form of research published in a medical journal.
Even if the research is published in a medical journal, it may still not be designed well and could be biased. That’s why you will always find references with a link to the original abstract in the articles I write, to make it easy for you check the facts.
I have not found any reliable research so far supporting that saturated fat is healthy. I have however found studies showing that saturated fat is increasing cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, the most harmful type. This means that saturated fat will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.
In a very recent research, 92 men and women were put on a diet. The first group has a diet which consisted of high in saturated fat from either cheese or butter. Some of them are on a diet high in monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat. Moreover, the remaining participants were in a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates. Each of the group had the diet for 4 weeks. This is what was found (Brassard D, et.al., 2017).
LDL cholesterol increased the most after the butter diet, even more than after the cheese diet. Both the butter and the cheese diet increased the LDL more than the high carbohydrate diet. The diets are also high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
The following research is a summary of 12 studies. It also compared butter with cheese, and found the following. Cheese intake lowered LDL when compared to butter, but when compared to tofu, it increased LDL (de Goede J, et.al., 2015). This is the same as saying butter increased LDL more than cheese, and both butter and cheese increased LDL more than tofu.
The HDL cholesterol, which has been considered protective for cardiovascular disease, was increased after the butter and cheese diets. It was significantly higher than for the carbohydrate diet. This may look like a benefit until you look at this study published in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world the Lancet (Voight BF, et.al., 2012).
When people with genetically high HDL were compared with people without these genes, it did not seem to lower the risk of myocardial infarction.
What would be found if people with genetically low LDL were examined? This has been done. That particular study was published in another of the world’s most prestigious medical journals (Cohen JC, et.al., 2006).
It was found that people with genetically low LDL had a substantial reduction of coronary events. This is still the case even in the populations with a high prevalence of other non- cholesterol risk factors.
In another research, men with low cholesterol levels at the start were followed for many years. They had an estimated increased life expectancy of 3.8 to 8.7 years (Stamler J, et.al., 2000).
Research shows us that saturated fat from animal sources is not good, it will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.
The good news is that you can control that to a large extent by changing what you eat. By doing so, you can produce the results you want.
Stamler, J., Daviglus, M. L., Garside, D. B., Dyer, A. R., Greenland, P., & Neaton, J. D. (2000). Relationship of baseline serum cholesterol levels in 3 large cohorts of younger men to long-term coronary, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality and to longevity. Jama, 284(3), 311-318.
Voight, B. F., Peloso, G. M., Orho-Melander, M., Frikke-Schmidt, R., Barbalic, M., Jensen, M. K., … & Schunkert, H. (2012). Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: a mendelian randomisation study. The Lancet, 380(9841), 572-580.
de Goede, J., Geleijnse, J. M., Ding, E. L., & Soedamah-Muthu, S. S. (2015). Effect of cheese consumption on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition reviews, 73(5), 259-275.
Brassard, D., Tessier-Grenier, M., Allaire, J., Rajendiran, E., She, Y., Ramprasath, V., … & Jones, P. J. (2017). Comparison of the impact of SFAs from cheese and butter on cardiometabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(4), 800-809.
Cohen, J. C., Boerwinkle, E., Mosley Jr, T. H., & Hobbs, H. H. (2006). Sequence variations in PCSK9, low LDL, and protection against coronary heart disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(12), 1264-1272.