Saturated Fat – The Healthy Choice

The last few decades have brought with them the news that we’re supposed to avoid adding saturated fats to our diets. Recent science though, tells another story.

The aforementioned study, from the Annals of Internal Medicine, highlights the research that is paving the way for this breakthrough in our understanding of saturated fat and its relationship to heart health. In the above video I’ll break down the results of that study, so we can understand why it is that high levels of saturated fat intake have absolutely nothing to do with risk for coronary artery disease. Watch this video while enjoying a kale omelet, and you’ll be doing right by your heart, brain, and general health as well.

  • Lynn Dell

    I suspect there is a real, ingrained fear about saturated fats among many, as is the case with me, drilled into our collective consciousness for years by researchers and medical authorities. To quell this fear, I have to keep remembering that this teaching on saturated fat started with bad research, which kept data that fit the picture the researcher wanted to prove, and eliminated a lot of data that did not. Keep plugging away at teaching the correct message!

    Along these lines, I also think the studies about fish oil and increasing cancer needs to be seriously examined, and if need be, refuted, for the same reasons. Perhaps the fish consumed for this study were much higher in the omega 6 oils you referenced in your speech above, because they were grain fed.

    Btw, as of today, I’ve managed to lose 40 lbs. For years, after the birth of our third child, I struggled with overeating, and tried to lose weight, and now, on a diet high in fats (including saturated fats), my blood glucose levels are under good control, and I’ve successfully lost not a little bit of weight. Thanks again!

    • Lynn Dell

      Out of curiosity, looked up some reports on omega 3 and prostate cancer. I have yet to find where the RATIO of omega 6 to omega 3 was examined with respect to cancer. Can’t they take blood titers of omega 6 oils?

      • Koen

        Don’t pay too much attention on the “study” of the link between omega 3 and prostate cancer.
        Dr Mark Hyman reaction on it:
        What is true is that omage-3 fats can oxidize real quick. And when omega-3 fats got oxidized, they can do more harm than good. Some general info on this topic: http://primaldocs.com/opinion/fish-oil-and-paleo/

        • Lynn Dell


        • Lynn Dell

          Regarding your second point, wouldn’t broiling good cold water fish oxidize and render harmful the omega 3 oils, which are only preserved in cool, dry places?

          • Koen

            I don’t think you have to worry about it when we talk about fish itself, as long as it’s fresh, or has been stored in a dark and cool place. It’s more an issue when we talk about fish oil supplements. They have is a much higher risk to oxidize.

  • Adrienne

    to be fair, the quoted study also found no reason to demonize omega-6 and no magical protective benefits of omega 6 or monounsaturated fats (omega 9s like olive oil, macadamia nut oil etc) over saturated fat. I’ve never feared saturated fat, but was increasingly confused as to why so many low carb/paleo proponents began warning against the purportedly dangerous omega 6 in nuts and seeds to the point of demonizing them all except for macadamia nuts which contain virtually no omega 6. There may very well be other great reasons not to eat the vegetable oils (corn, soy, etc) but I think it has nothing to do with omega 6 in and of itself and certainly there seems no good justification absent allergy to purposely omit nuts and seeds from ones low carb lifestyle. Raw, organic nuts and seedse provide tasty gluten-free, portable sources of fiber, polyphenols, resistant starch and pre/probiotics without sending blood sugar soaring. Dr. Briffa breaks the details of the quoted study down here: http://www.drbriffa.com/2014/03/21/yet-another-major-review-finds-no-reason-at-all-to-limit-saturated-fat-in-the-diet/

    • Joe Texan

      What I have read is that you have to have a balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6. For example, regular eggs have three times more Omega 6 tan Omega 3, whereas pasture raised have equal amounts. Omega 6’s are not bad if they are in balance with Omega 3’s.

      • MarcusK

        That is what I also understood. Dr John Bergman states: 1:1 ratio to 1:3 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is healthy (meat of grass-fed cows have this). Disease starts with 1:8 ratio. The average diet has a very unhealthy 1:20 ratio. As far as I recall Dr Bergman did not mention a source and his videos are on Youtube.

        • Adrienne

          Why would a person use eggs as their source for omega-3? Same goes for grass-fed meat which I enjoy but would never rely on as a significant source for omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines and salmon and other oily fish seem like more reliable and efficient sources. But back to the so-called ideal omega6-omega3 ratio. I’m not 100% convinced that anyone really knows what this so called ideal ratio is but assuming there is such a ratio — how can one claim that eating nuts and avocados and olive oil and/or flaxseeds are beneficial when all of these have large amounts of omega 6? I don’t think one can, so I don’t worry about it and enjoy the aforementioned high omega 6 sources along with fatty fish. I think there is plenty wrong with feedlot non-organic meats and I avoid them, but the omega 6 content of the fat isn’t why.

      • David Perlmutter

        The omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in regular eggs may be as high as 14:1 !1

        • Joe Texan

          Wow. I had no idea.

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  • Naomi Lieberman

    Dr. Oz just wrote that according to a new study palm and coconut oils promote body fat in the abdomen and liver.
    Do you still maintain that cooking with coconut oil is recommended, or should I still use olive oil primarily?

  • Tom M

    Dr. P, what do you make of the May issue of CSPI Nutrition Action Newsletter?

  • Terriob

    Dr P.,
    Read your book and thought it was great! I’m trying the diet now by weaning off carbs and eating more protein and fatty foods, including one of my all time favorites raw almond crunchy butter. Its the brand with the raccoon on it. A little background info on me; I’m a 57 year old woman who is a mom with four older kids and has 6 grand kids. One of my hobbies is body building. I used to be an avid marathoner but am in the preservation mode and am focusing now on building muscle and bone strength. I work out every day am I’m told I’m pretty lean. I am 5 ft 3in and weigh 115 pounds. Due to this goal of trying to muscle up a bit, I’ve been using protein supplements such as whey protien isolate and casein at night. I like both a lot. Do these fit into your diet as a protein source (casein is the optimum nutrition (on) product and the whey is Protizyme product) or do I have to stop using these? Secondly, my crunchy almond butter just arrived and as usual I ate the whole jar…I love the stuff and stopped getting it because I can eat a whole jar. Used to that with crunchy krema peanut butter too. Anyway, question here is in your book nut butters are in the list of “can be consumed liberally.” So do you mean liberally but just the typical 2 tablespoons at a time or my brand of liberal …as much as you want? Another thing about me is I had about 14inches of a redundant colon removed as it was causing me GI bloating pain. I had long term constipation before the surgery last summer. Since that and menopause I’ve experienced loose and frequent bowels and get bloated almost every time I ate large portions of spinach and broccoli. I tried vegan for awhile but it was too gassy and I was always painfully bloated. Your diet gives me a little gas but nothing clothes to eating unlimited veggies and fruit.
    So, first does bodybuilding supplements fit into the protocol as a protein for this diet? Hate to give up my protein shakes. Second, is crunchy organic raw and unblanched almond butter ok liberally speaking for keeping the diet. I do not put it on anything other than a spoon or in a protein shake. Thanks, Terri

  • MikeW

    Since I stopped eating cereals (gluten free, but still high carb) and breads for breakfast, I have increased my consumption of eggs and bacon. You talk about the benefits of the eggs, but what about the bacon? Good, bad, neutral?
    Thank you!

    • Protandim

      The answer on bacon ?

  • Greg

    Greetings from Harp Lake, next door to Penn Lake in Muskoka. I have totally bought in as a fam doc, teacher and in my training. I feel great. Just wondering if you are aware of Dr. Alan Jacobs report from Eastern Finland showing 90% reduction in dementia when looking at a healthy diet at age 50. Followed for 14 years. The catch is that saturated fat was said to increase risk. Doesn’t really fit for me. What are your thoughts? Cheers.

    • AhhhSleep

      I am wondering the same thing: Are saturated fats healthy and necessary or do they just increase the risk of dementia as in the Finland study?

      • David Perlmutter

        Saturated fat is a healthy choice!

  • Plants with pesco

    I think its important to look at the whole food package not just the type of fat. For example, bacon, eggs, steak etc… will all create a very damaging substance- TMAO that increases inflammation, lipid oxidation and makes for a less healthy gut biome.

    However, Polynesians eating whole coconuts (with all the fiber and phytochemicals intact) along with traditional antioxidant rich fruits and tubers (poi) and fish did not develop heart disease.

    I would suggest enjoying your coconut whole-they are fun to crack open- in a traditional way- served with fresh pineapple and maybe a piece of fish with mango salsa on top and maybe a side of jerusalem artichoke or cruciferous vegetable in place of traditional poi.

    The processing into oil takes away many of the health benefits of a whole coconut including the antioxidants and electrolytes. Same goes for olive oil. Eat a low sodium version of whole olives vs. oil. The extra polyphenol content of whole olives does your gut and body good.

  • Philip Brown

    Dr. Perlmutter,
    How much saturated fat should the average individual have in a day ? do you agree with the american heart association and their recommendations for saturated fat consumption? If your recommendations differ from theirs please provide data to back it up or preferably some good studies in a peer reviewed journal. There must be a limit right ?

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  • Michael Koster

    if you actually look up the linked study, this strong criticism by Harvard comes up:
    “Although Chowdhury and colleagues say that their conclusions
    did not change, a more inclusive and correct review of available
    evidence would support the replacement of SFAs (saturated fat) with PUFAs (poly-unsaturated fat).”
    or this:
    “Replacing 5% of daily energy intake of SFA with PUFA would lower heart disease risk by 13% on the basis of cohort studies and will reduce the risk by 10% on the basis of randomized control trials.”
    if you want to read the whole criticism you can copy the title of the study: “Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”
    and paste it to sci-hub.tw

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