The Case For Saturated Fats (Previous Sidebar Post)

Politically correct dietary gurus tell us that polyunsaturated oils are good for us and that saturated fats cause cancer and heart disease. Such misinformation about the relative virtues of saturated fats versus polyunsaturated oils has caused profound changes in western eating habits. At the turn of the century, most of the fatty acids in the diet were either saturated or monounsaturated, primarily from butter, lard, tallows, coconut oil and small amounts of olive oil. Today, most of the fats in the diet are polyunsaturated, primarily from vegetable oils derived from soy, as well as from corn, safflower, and canola.

...Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including cancer and heart disease, immune system dysfunction, damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs, digestive disorders, depressed learning ability, impaired growth, and weight gain.

...The demonized saturated fats--which Americans are trying to avoid--are not the cause of our modern diseases. In fact, they play many important roles in the body chemistry:

  • Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50 percent of the cell membranes, giving them necessary stiffness and integrity so they can function properly.
  • They play a vital role in the health of our bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50 percent of dietary fats should be saturated.
  • They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease.
  • They protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol.
  • They enhance the immune system.
  • They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats.
  • Saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for the heart, which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated. The heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress.
  • Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.

-Taken from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., Copyright 2001 New Trends Publishing, Inc.,

For some great articles about the roles of different fats in our diet, please visit this page on the Weston A. Price Foundation site.