Saturated Fat – Friend or Foe?


The big news in the nutrition world this week is a meta-study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, claiming that saturated fat may not be as bad for people’s health as once thought. The researchers behind the study are some of the top scientists in the field, including Dariush Mozaffarian of Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Reviewing 32 separate studies on over half a million people, the researchers wanted to gauge the difference in risk for coronary disease between individuals who consumed high amounts of saturated fats and those who consumed low amounts.  The scientists concluded that

current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage … low consumption of total saturated fats.

Which begs the question – have nutrition experts been wrong for the last 50 years?

Before you go back to eating full fat dairy and marbled steaks, hold the butter and read the following. When health professionals advised us to reduce fat consumption decades years ago, their intention was for us to increase our consumption of healthy foods such as legumes and vegetables. What actually happened was an explosive growth in the consumption of highly processed carbs and sugary junk foods. (Thanks to the food industry!)

Saturated fat (and fat in general) became a smaller percentage of our overall calorie intake not because we consumed less of them, but simply because we began eating a lot more calories in the form of processed foods. The result is nation of obese individuals.

Dr. David Katz, a nutrition and obesity expert, commented on the study and nailed it:

Basically, this study showed that if you vary your intake of saturated fat or omega-6 fat without altering the overall quality of your diet, you are not likely to alter your health much either … There was no suggestion [in the study] of any health benefits of saturated fat, and some hint of harmful effects despite the important study limitations.

Get it? Eating more or less saturated fat doesn’t matter if the rest of your food is crap. Katz recommends that instead of focusing on specific nutrients, people should take a more holistic view of food.

Don’t want to give up on butter? Fine, but have just small amount. But don’t eat a 1000 calorie salad at the Cheesecake Factory with 10 grams of saturated fat and expect to live to a hundred year old.

The real question isn’t whether saturated fat is good or bad, it’s whether your overall diet is good or bad. Focusing on unprocessed whole foods as the building blocks of your meals is much more important than obsessing over another gram of fat or sugar on the nutrition label of a packaged ready-to-eat meal.

Keep it real folks!

  • Mindy

    Even before I read this I had decided that cutting down on processed foods and eating things like butter (rather than a “spread”) was the way to go. It makes sense to me and is the way we ate when I was growing up.

  • jena

    I don’t use butter allot, i use olive oil in everything and also coconut oil

    • Csillagfeny

      Just don’t fry in olive oil,in high temperature it’s turns into trans fat!

  • timlockk

    Organic coconut oil all the way.

  • Natural Disaster

    Might be time to stop talking about saturated fat and start talking
    about real food! Cheese = good. Crackers made with hydrogenated palm
    kernal oil = bad.

  • Dan

    This is old news. Saturated fat is good for you. Butter, lard, and tallow from pastured animals are very healthy. So is coconut oil.

  • Axel Brosi

    The article is basically backtracking and trying to save face.
    . It lacks total credibility. The ability for human rationalization appears to be endless.

  • Ricklynchcore

    Is coconut oil good for frying?

    • Csillagfeny

      Fryed food is not the healty as we all know,sometimes I fry organic,home made chicken fingers for the kids,yes,in organic coconut oil.They love it!

  • Healthy Man

    It always comes back to the same answer; eat a well balanced diet of foods with low sugar ,carbs, and fats.

  • Wholehealthgirl

    Saturated fat is NOT BAD FOR YOU!! We need fat to be healthy, plain and simple. What all these studies fail to point out, is the type of saturated fat consumers are eating. Most likely animals raised in CAFO’s and fed grain diets. Of course the end product is not going to be healthy. To continue the myth that fat should only be eaten sparingly, continues the health problems we have today.

  • princess

    Dude. There’s so many new studies & they keep coming up with new things that I have stopped paying so much attention! I think we should just try to eat close to its raw or organic foods… stay away from processed food but if we want to eat a spoonful of lard for whatever reason then just do it! Every now and then we should be able to eat what we desire! Gosh darn it if I am craving lard then by all means I’m going to eat it! :) then probably feel guilty afterwards but then better after the gym! :D God bless all!!!

  • Jared

    This is a very uneducated article. Studies have shown saturate fat is very good fr you and even promotes healthy cardiovascular systems. It’s also new for digestion, insulin regulation, and brain function. Our bodies preference source of energy is also fat. This article just seems to be covering up the big food corporations, medical field ad nutritionists lies and false information they’ve been feeding us for years. (Pun intended)