Heat from cooking can damage a fat making it toxic to the body. It is important to use fats which do not become damaged during the cooking process.Unlike unsaturated fats, natural saturated fats are heat stable fats which have been used by mankind for centuries in the form of:
- Clarified butter
- Lard (hard pig fat) and tallow (hard sheep/cattle fat), hard goose/duck fat
- Saturated plant fats: coconut oil, palm oil or shea butter.
Benefits of Saturated Fats:
- They help to provide structure to the cells. Saturated fatty acids make up at least 50% of the cell membranes.
- Contain vital fat soluble vitamins: pre-formed vitamin A, D3, E & K
- They play a vital role in bone health. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of dietary fats should be saturated.
- They protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins
- They support the proper utilisation of essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are held better within the body when the diet is rich in saturated fats.
- They help protect & sustain the heart. Long chain saturated fats 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for the heart. The fat stored around the heart muscle is highly saturated. The heart draws on this fat reserve in times of stress.
- They enhance the immune system. Short and medium chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties, which provide valuable protection against harmful viruses, yeasts and pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract. For example, 4-carbon butyric acid is found mostly in the butter-fat from cows, and 6-carbon capric acid is found mostly in the butter-fat from goats. Lauric acid is found in coconut & palm oils and has immune-enhancing and anti-fungal properties.
Examples of traditional people with high saturated fat intake include the Inuit, Masai and Pacific Islanders:
Saturated fats intake is significantly higher in many traditional diets (x5 or greater). These traditional people have much leaner bodies in comparison to modern day man. It has also been shown that when these traditional people start consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates and damaged fats and low in essential nutrients they start to degenerate.
- The Inuit diet incorporates raw seal and fish.
- The Masai diet consists mainly of raw non-pasteurised milk, red meat and blood.
- The Pacific islanders diet incorporates coconut, palm oil and meat.
Issues to be aware of with Saturated fats
- In modern society most of us are not as physically active as many traditional people who consume a greater proportion of their dietary intake as saturated fat. This factor should be taken in to account when looking at the diet as a whole.
- In animals, fat soluble toxins will be stored in their body fat. These toxins will also make their way into the fat portion of other animal products like meat, milk, butter, eggs and cheese. Therefore it is important to consume organic animal products and to avoid non-organic sources as much as possible.
- When the lliver becomes congested from high levels of toxicity from the diet its ability to breakdown fats becomes impaired. To support the liver, it would be wise to follow a dietary and naturopathic detox whilst avoiding hard to digest foods like fats.