Is Saturated Fat Healthy For Our Health?
Well, people have told us that saturated fat is unhealthy. We know that it raises our cholesterol level and that is how it harms our health. However, recent studies suggest that the picture is more complicated than we usually think. How? Well, we are going to find that out in this article.
What is saturated fat?
There are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated fat. Saturated fat is mainly the fatty acids that have all the carbons saturated with their hydrogen atom. Products like meat, lard, full-fat dairy products like cream, coconuts, palm oil, and dark chocolate contain saturated fat. Actual fat includes a combination of different fatty acids. Some products contain a lower amount of this fat while others contain high levels.
Why do people take it as a harmful substance?
In the 20th century, there was a major epidemic of heart disease that was running in America. It was a rare disease, and it caused severe death in America. Eventually, the researchers learned about saturated fatty acids and how they were linked to our heart diseases. They made a hypothesis, called the diet-heart theory where they assumed that saturated fatty acids raise the level of cholesterol, and this causes heart diseases. Consequently, saturated fats are the reason for heart diseases. This hypothesis was not a piece of the experimental evidence on human beings. Instead, this was more of an assumption based on animal studies and observational data.
However, saturated fat can raise bad cholesterol as well as good cholesterol:
We tend to think that the word cholesterol can have both positive and negative connotations. Nevertheless, we always use the word to state the LDL cholesterol that causes heart diseases. When researchers started knowing about cholesterol, they generalized all the types of cholesterol with the word. Later on, they learned about different kinds of cholesterol. They found out that low-density cholesterol increases the risk of heart diseases, whereas high-density ones reduced the risk.
The small dense particles are much more susceptible to becoming oxidized. This is the first and very crucial step in the heart disease process. And saturated fats simply change the density of LDL from high to low. Yes, you read that right. And this implies only one fact and that is, even if saturated fat is increasing the number of LDL in our body, it also makes it a subtype that is associated with reducing the risk of heart disease. A lot of long-term studies related to saturated fat were unable to find the links between this type of fat and LDL.
It may also depend on the chain length of these fatty acids as Palmitic acids (almost 16) may raise the LDL and Stearic acid (almost 18) may not. Plus, a low carbohydrate diet with high saturated fatty acids is great in reducing the number of LDL floating in the bloodstream. The low-fat diet, however, may have some adverse effects in increasing the number of LDL flowing in the bloodstream.
Does saturated fat cause heart disease?
Well, despite all the massive funding behind this particular research and a lot of scientists spending a lot of hours in their labs, they were unable to find any link between saturated fat and LDL. Several recent reviews have proved that there is no link between saturated fat and LDL. A study in 2010 that includes a review of almost 21 studies on 347,747 participants has also failed to conclude the link between the fat type and LDL.
Thus, from all these studies, we can also safely conclude that saturated fat is not linked with heart diseases. So, we may not be able to say if it is healthy for your body or not, but it does not cause any heart diseases.