Although a little saturated fat in your diet is good, studies show most people get way too much. How bad can it be to occasionally indulge in a trans fat or saturated fat treat?
Recent research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, shows that even an occasional saturated fat indulgence can significantly diminish your body's natural defenses against heart disease.
What was the treat that did the damage? A piece of carrot cake and a milk shake.
New Study on Saturated Fat
University of Sydney Australia researchers gave a group of healthy young adults just one piece of carrot cake with a milk shake to wash it down. This high sugar and highly saturated fat feast significantly compromised the participant's health – in two ways.
- It interfered with the ability of their arteries to expand for increased blood flow.
- It kept HDL (good) cholesterol from doing its job of protecting arteries from inflammation and fatty plaque build-up.
Research leader, Dr. David Celermajer from the Heart Research Institute, believes the message is clear. It's important to limit both sweets and saturated fat intake.
Saturated fat is found mainly in animal products, such as red meat, meat products (sausages and packaged meats), butter, cheese, full-fat milk products, coconut and palm oils, pies, pastries, bakery fats, lard and hard margarines.
Fooling Around with Mother Nature
Since our early ancestors were hunters and gatherers, human beings have been eating meat for a long time. So how come all of a sudden animal products are a problem?
The answer is simple. Saturated fat is natural and can actually be beneficial – in small amounts. The problem is, the balance has been thrown way out of whack. Here's how.
- Wild game and free ranging, grass fed animals, like those eaten by our ancestors, contain only about 2 to 3 percent saturated fat.
- But our modern commercially bred and domesticated meat and dairy products have much more fat – 20 to 60 percent saturated fat.
As Neil Armstrong said, it's "one giant leap for mankind." But, in this case, the huge increase in saturated fat is an unnatural giant step in the wrong direction.
Mother Nature and Trans Fats
There’s also reason for serious concern about the processing of unsaturated fats.
Plants, in their natural form, are Mother Nature’s most abundant source of essential fatty acids. But, once again, modern commercial methods cause problems.
Oils are particularly sensitive to the light, heat, bleaching, deodorizing and solvents used in the intense extraction process. So what do you get?
Those clear sweet smelling refined cooking and salad oils at the grocery are mostly void of any good essential fatty acids. And when the hydrogenation process is thrown in too, you also get the dangers of trans fat. The main trans fatty acid sources are:
- 40% bakery products, such as cakes, cookies, pastries, biscuits and crackers
- 22% margarine, lard and other household shortenings
- 20% fatty meat from beef and sheep, plus high fat dairy
- 12% chips and deep fried foods, such as French fries
- 6% commercial salad dressings, candy and breakfast cereals
What are the Recommended Limits?
- Reduce trans fat in your diet to less than 1% of total calories.
- Aim to keep your daily saturated fat calories at 7% or less.
- Use only extra virgin olive oil on salads (it's not highly processed).
- For cooking stick with a little olive oil or very small amounts of butter.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.