October 17, 2011

Not All Fats Are Created Equal

Arthur Schopenhauer once said.. "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

Copernicus' Heliocentricity, Einstein's Relativity and Darwin's Evolution are all good examples of theories which were initially discarded as preposterous and nonsensical, yet in this day and age, they are not only regarded as universal truths but also as some of the greatest discoveries humankind has ever made.

The problem is we become comfortable with what we know and believe to be true. We tend to get attached to people, ideas, situations and even places. It starts during childhood when we are most susceptible and have little choice but to place our undivided trust in parents, teachers and other authoritative figures, many of whom no doubt have our best interest in mind but perhaps don't know better themselves. As we get older and become more set in our ways, old ideas and opinions are even more difficult to shake off.

So if you've never been exposed to the ideas in this article, please don't be alarmed. Read with an open mind. By no means go around believing everything you read or hear but if you come across new and interesting ideas that are worth exploring, do investigate further and most importantly, demand proof and be critical.

What if suddenly someone told you that saturated fats are not nearly as unhealthy as they are made out to be? For as long as we can remember, we have been told that saturated fats and cholesterol are the villains. But what if there is more to the story?

The notion that saturated fats are not only good but actually essential in order to maintain good health and to prevent chronic and degenerative diseases is one that is closely linked to the Paleolithic movement, so let's start with that. The Paleolithic diet (also referred to as Paleo, hunter-gatherer or caveman diet) is based on the theory that our human physiology and genetics is essentially the same as that of our ancestors perhaps even millions of years ago. To be more specific those of the Paleolithic era, which began roughly 2.5 million years ago and ended with the development of agriculture a little over 10,000 years ago. Therefore our dietary requirements would not have changed much either because such changes don't just happen overnight. They are the result of thousands and thousands of years of evolution. So that makes us all still hunter-gatherers and it should be as simple as eating what our bodies are designed to eat.

This would be an extremely long article if we get into the details of the Paleo diet so let us stick to the fats :)

Imagine the days when procuring food wasn't as easy as going down to your local supermarket. The diet of our ancestors consisted mainly of wild game and fish, whatever wild plants and fruits (mainly berries) they could gather when in season and other delicacies they got a hold of occasionally like eggs and nuts. That is a whole lot of fat. Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. All good. In those days, fat was regarded as a commodity. Fat stored as energy which would come in pretty handy during times when food wasn't as available, and this happened more often than not.

But not all fats are created equal. We're talking about naturally-occurring animal and vegetable fats such as those found in wild game and fish, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, coconut and avocado. These are essential fats which our body needs in order to perform all sorts of bodily functions. Did you know for instance that the human brain is actually made up of fat and cholesterol? So when you limit your intake of these you are basically robbing your brain of the raw materials it needs to perform ideally. Research also shows saturated fats play an important role in achieving improved cardiovascular and liver health, strong bones and immune system, healthy lungs, among many others.

Bad fat is unnatural trans fat, rancid fats and excess Omega-6 from vegetable oils, which are everywhere you look nowadays and have become a modern staple in today's diet. Also beef, pork, sheep, turkey, duck, chicken and any derived products that come from feedlot operations where animals are fed an unnatural diet and injected with all sorts of antibiotics and hormones. Let's not even get into farmed fish. Unfortunately, this is what we mostly eat these days.

So how and when exactly did saturated fats and cholesterol become the bad guys? The "Lipid Hypothesis", which claims the consumption of dietary fats are largely responsible for coronary heart disease, has apparently been around since the 1850s but had been dismissed for not offering sufficient proof. However, it was brought back in the limelight and made popular by Dr. Ancel Keys in 1953 after he did some research and published a paper on the subject. Many claim there were fundamental issues with this study and in fact, the theory has been disproved by many subsequent studies. But that didn't stop this hypothesis from becoming the basis of today's dietary recommendations: Eat low-fat.

And in this way began the vilification of saturated fats and cholesterol, fueled by the corporate interests of the vegetable oil and food industry, corrupt government officials and agencies, and let's not forget, irresponsible science. The same people who made us believe for decades that margarine was the healthy alternative when it's one of the worst poisons you can actually expose your body to. Thankfully this fact is now widely-known.

Also regarded as the culprits in modern-day diet according to the Paleo diet (and worth looking into) are sugar, especially in the form of fructose, and excessive carbohydrate consumption. But that's a whole different article which I promise to write sometime in the future.

If you want to investigate further into the subject, I can recommend a few books:

        · Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas

        · The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

        · The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

Also, be sure to check out Dr. Mercola's website for articles on this and other important health-related subjects. Prepare yourself to be shocked though because this is definitely not your typical everyday nutritional, fitness and health information.


  1. I'm familiar with the caveman's diet. There's so much misinformation about dieting out there and Americans are coming around very slowly... I've NEVER trusted the FDA or whatever is being sold by marketers because it really has become about capitalism and not health. Proof of this is that American is the most health/fitness crazed country in the world but at the same time the fattest country in the world.

  2. Indeed! Big food corporations are often more concerned with making a profit rather than our wellbeing. This makes the Health Care and Pharmaceutical industries very profitable. But the important thing is, as you say, we're starting to wake up and demand change. Power to the people :)

  3. Love that you started it with a quote, very nice :))

  4. One of the best ways to get a point across! :)