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Saturated Fats vs. Unsaturated Fats
Posted by: John
Date: March 4, 2004 8:41 PM

There seems to be a lot of info on the net concerning the health benefits of certain saturated fats such as coconut oil. I've read some of the theories by Mary Enig and Ray Peat and they do make an intriguing argument, not just of the benefits of coconut oil, as they say there are many, but of the deleterious effects of polyunsaturated oils. Peat, on his website, actually goes as far to say that polyunsaturated fats are worse for your health than hydrogenated fats.

From my understanding, you would only find unsaturated fats in nature in cold temperatures due to its ability to stay liquid at lower temps. Seeds won't freeze in winter due to their oils, and cold water fish like trout would harden up like butter in the fridge if their fat stores weren’t mainly unsaturated fat. When taken out of the lower temps though, unsaturated fats will start to oxidize, causing all sorts of health problems. This would seem to be the last thing something with an internal temp of 98 degrees, and considered a tropical animal would need to be consuming.

On the other hand, coconut oil is liquid in temps over 76 degrees, and stable at higher temps, which is why I guess they say to use it for cooking. An oil that stays liquid over 76 degrees, doesn't seem like the artery clogging villain it has been accused of being. Is there any truth to any of this? If there is, it goes against everything I thought I knew about saturated fats. It would make sense to match oils to the temp of where man originated from. Even olive oil, with its one double bond, is a warm climate oil, and no one argues the health benefits of that oil.

Dr. Kennedy, I would appreciate your opinion on this matter.

RE: Saturated Fats vs. Unsaturated Fats
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, M.D.
Date: March 5, 2004 2:04 AM

You are wise to remain skeptical when you read ideas which conflict with common wisdom, especially when those ideas are coming from someone with something to sell you. You are right about fish needing to have unsaturated oils in cold water. Fortunately they can't order take-out from MacDonald’s and have to make do with algae, protozoa, zoophytes, smaller fish, etc. Nowhere in that mix will they find bacon grease, lucky for them.

Here is the skinny on fats. They are burned for energy. In order for them to be burned they must be broken down to smaller units. A carbon bond with a couple hydrogens missing (that is an "unsaturated" bond) is an easy place for lipase to do its number and break down the fat. That is why unsaturated fats are considered healthier - less stress on the metabolism. Anything which drains energy wears down the entire system, kind of similar to dragging an anchor behind your boat, or a trailer behind your car. The other place where long chain saturated fats end up in in the cell membrane where they interfere with normal cell membrane function. This accounts for many heretofore mysterious illnesses and we are beginning to get good results flushing them out with short chain unsaturated fats given IV chased with IV L-glutathione. Dr. Pat Kane in Pennsylvania is leading the charge in this area.

As far as "artery clogging" goes, I am in no way convinced that the explanation is as simple as saturated vs. unsaturated. For a plaque to form requires a lesion in the intima of a blood vessel. For such a lesion to be present requires a series of degenerative changes probably including an infective agent. Once a lesion is present it may be true that a high saturated fat diet can accelerate it, but if that degenerative chain of events is not allowed to even begin, the fat becomes irrelevant. The threat posed by "high cholesterol," if there is any threat at all, is surely grossly exaggerated in the interest of selling lab tests, Lipitor, Mevacor, etc.

One more comment: ingested fats are burned as energy, ingested simple and refined carbohydrates are stored as fat. That is not intuitively obvious - strange but true. So the hoopla about the importance of avoiding fats is pretty much a marketing ploy. In the meantime our unsuspecting citizens are sucking down carbs at a prodigious rate and this is the real threat to the health of our people.

This Thread has been closed


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