Benefits of eating saturated fat – 4 excellent reasons
For a very long time, it was believed that the earth is flat. It was treated as a proven fact. What happened to that? The flat earth theory fell flat on its face.
What happens when a myth is purported as a scientific fact for more than half a century? It becomes a gospel which cannot be challenged by logic or common sense.
We have all heard statements like
Saturated fat increases cholesterol.
Saturated fat gives you a heart attack.
In the last fifty years, millions upon millions were spent to research on the negative effects of saturated fat. But there is still no conclusive evidence to prove it. Yet, even today many dietitians and health professionals advise us to avoid saturated fat like the plague.
Is saturated fat harmful to our health? Are there absolutely no benefits of having saturated fat in our diet? The simple answer is a resounding NO.
Let us see four reasons, that will make you question the very notion of why saturated fat is made to be the root cause of all evils in our diets.
1 – Saturated fat protects your heart
Yes, you read it correctly. The very reason that you were told to stay clear of saturated fat is not true. Recent studies have shown that it is heart friendly.
It increases good cholesterol HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein). Improved HDL levels are a strong indicator of good heart health.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein), the so called bad cholesterol, turns out not to be so bad after all. As the methods of testing of the cholesterol levels improved it was found that LDL are of two types.
- The large fluffy LDL (type A)
- The small dense LDL (type B)
The large fluffy LDL (type A) – It has no negative effect on your heart. Eating saturated fat increases the type A LDL. Saturated fat even has the potential to change the type B LDL to type A LDL.
The small dense LDL (type B) – This is the truly bad LDL which is strongly associated with heart diseases. Type B LDL gets easily oxidized meaning it becomes harmful for the body. Higher levels of type B LDL increases the risk of heart diseases by three times compared to higher type A LDL.
2 – Saturated fat is essential for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
Vitamins are like engine oil, without which your body won’t be able to function properly.
There are certain vitamins that need fat to get absorbed by the body. These are called fat-soluble vitamins. Which means that your body will not be able to use these vitamins without the presence of fat.
The four fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K.
- Vitamin A – Essential for good vision
- Vitamin D – Important for stronger bones
- Vitamin E – Acts as a powerful antioxidant which helps protects our body from the harmful free radicals
- Vitamin K – Plays an important role in blood clotting
How fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed
- When you eat the food, it gets broken down in the stomach and enters into the small intestine for further digestion.
- In the small intestine, the fat-soluble vitamins from the food get dissolved in the fat.
- These fats then act as a carrier which takes them across the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. From there it reaches to the liver where they get stored.
So even if you are eating all the vitamin-rich food, but not enough fat, you are going to suffer from malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
3 – Saturated fat is important for your brain
Do you know that your brain is made up of 60% fat and largest portion of this fat is saturated fatty acids? Your brain also holds 25% of the body’s total cholesterol.
When you try to cut back on saturated fat to lower your cholesterol you are actually causing detrimental effect to your brain. As we have already seen, saturated fat reduces the bad cholesterol so there is no reason for cutting back on saturated fat.
Myelin sheath is a layer of saturated fat that forms a protective coating for the nerve cells of the brain. It helps in better signaling amongst the nerves. Better and faster nerve signals mean a stronger and sharper brain.
A 2013 study at Mayo Clinic suggests that adding saturated fat in your diet will help in reducing the risk of dementia by 36%.
4 – Saturated fat is natural
One of the most common advice we all hear is “ If you want to be healthy, always eat natural and organic food”. The sources of saturated fat are as natural as it can get – Ghee, Butter, Eggs, Milk, Coconut oil, Animal fat.
But when it comes to saturated fat this health advice is reversed. Then it becomes “Strip away the naturally present fat to make it healthy”. Like instead of having the milk in its natural form, you are supposed to take away the fat and make it a low-fat milk. So, now the processed version of this natural food becomes healthy – low-fat paneer, low-fat yogurt, low-fat curd, low-fat butter.
I don’t know what to call it – Hypocrisy or Ignorance?
And last but not the least, saturated fat is tasty. There is no arguing with the fact that anything cooked in ghee or butter tastes much better. The aroma of the food and the richness of the flavors increases by two folds when cooked in saturated fat.