Which is Better for Your Health – Polyunsaturated or Saturated Fats?

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Has your doctor recommended that you choose polyunsaturated fats for health? Do you read in health magazines and Internet web sites how great polyunsaturated fats are, while saturated fats are the enemy?

Common health rhetoric stipulates that to maintain health we avoid saturated fats in anything containing these fats – butter, red meat, eggs, and certainly no dark or organ meats. But did you know that this advice, commonly given out by medical professionals, is one of the very things that has been adding to our health epidemic of heart disease and obesity – just to name a few?

This comes in the midst of a medical community that is now heralding the prescription of anti-cholesterol drugs to patients who are younger and younger. We’ve observed over the last two decades as advertisements for drugs claiming to solve every health issue from arthritis to sexual dysfunction appear more and more often on television and publications – and the drug created to lower cholesterol, Statin, is no exception. Is it really that everyone has a chronic health issue or is it the greediness of the pharmaceutical industry that is causing this stir? Or, could it be a yet a third offender responsible for this problem – industrially-produced meats and dairy products, as well as other fats?

The answer is that all three play an integral role. Here’s how:

  • The health problem that has arisen from eating meat is due to mass production and over-consumption of industrial meats (as well as other industrial foods, including conventionally-produced vegetables/fruits, grains, and legumes). Factory-farmed meats scarcely resemble real food for many reasons – animals slaughtered for meat are raised in feedlots, standing in manure, living sedentary lives, eating genetically-modified grains, soy, and corn, and are administered all types of chemicals (steroids, antibiotics, hormones) to “perfectly” engineer their existence from birth to death to maximize profits. When your meat is that much departed from the grass-fed variety that comes from animals allowed to live healthy lives as intended by nature, there’s no question that eating it will cause your body to become sick.
  • Everyone who eats this type of meat and dairy products – which represents a majority of people since most of what is available to the public is of the industrial variety – will eventually develop these health issues. For more information about just how harmful factory meat is to human health, visit Sustainable Table and Mother Earth News.
  • Big pharma has profited greatly from selling these drugs. They are not in the business of wellness, but rather, the business of keeping patients sick. Consistent reports and findings tell us so again and again. If you don’t pay for it – let’s say you are on welfare or don’t make enough money to afford the drugs, the government will pay for it – which ultimately means all of us, the taxpayers that is, will pay for it. If the federal prescription plan forks out the money, annually we will see millions of dollars added to our national debt. To compensate, the government must make more money to put into circulation, and the value of the dollar continues to sink lower and lower.

Who needs saturated fats?

Everyone does. Many parts of your body need saturated fats and cholesterol to be healthy. Your brain, for instance, is an intensively cholesterol-rich environment. Fat and cholesterol are essential for brain development in infants and children, and it is paramount for helping to support memory and learning in people of all ages. Saturated fats and cholesterol also aid the immune system, protect the liver from toxins, and improve cell membrane integrity.

Mainstream medical advise tells us that cholesterol and fat are harmful to us. But cholesterol drugs (statins) are dangerous and cause damage to the liver and digestive tract. Unlike the untruths that have been told for decades about the ability of these drugs to prevent heart attacks and strokes, the British Medical Journal recently reported that for every cardiac arrest “prevented” by these medications two or more people suffered kidney failure, liver damage, cataracts or muscle weakness as a result of taking it.

The heart is another organ which requires the proper amount of saturated fat and cholesterol to maintain its integrity, performance, and structure. The Framingham Study, one of the most well-known medical investigations of this phenomena which is still being conducted reveals that up until the early 1920′s, heart disease was not common in this country. Industrialization of meat raising and producing processes began in the late 1800s, and as a result took its toll on the health of the citizens consuming those foods. Heart disease has been steadily on the rise since then, and coincidentally so has the consumption of more and more processed foods.

For decades, medical communities have succeeded in making criminals out of these critical nutrients, and the number of people who continue to become obese and develop heart disease steadily climbs like a circus monkey. At the same time, our health experts extol the virtues of polyunsaturated fats – substances which coincidentally are found in an array of foods we are told are healthy for us – vegetable oils (such as cottonseed, soybean, corn oil) – when in fact these foods are the very things that cause obesity, degenerative disease, and inflammation.

Just have a peek at what the Mayo Clinic recommends to maintain a healthy heart. Pretty interesting. So why would a major medical hospital (and many others) put their names and reputation behind such untruths? Well, it is true that medical entities are closely tied to the pharmaceutical companies….are you starting to see a connection?

Although The Mayo Clinic doctors do admit that Omega 3 source of fish oils are beneficial, it is shocking to read that in their list of harmful fats it is recommended to avoid eggs, meat, poultry, lard, and butter – and the fact that these healthful foods are lumped in with trans fats – fats which everyone agrees have a profoundly negative effect on health. It seems unfathomable to have such a blatant contradiction on a medical web site. But believe it…it’s there. Even though most medical doctors lack a good understanding of nutrition, this in no way excuses the irresponsibility of these statements in view of available research and evidence on the subject.

Remember that many of the polyunsaturated fats are new fats that have only been around for just over a hundred years. Even though oils like cottonseed, soy, and others like corn, safflower, and sunflower have existed in plants, they haven’t been available in their current states on the grocery store shelves in bottles as sold in mass production. These oils are processed, refined, deodorized, and subjected to high heat temperatures. Polyunsaturated fats are very fragile and are denatured easily, while saturated fats have been used in cooking for thousands of years and have stood the test of time for consumption and overall good effect on health.

When you consider the history of humanity and how long people have eaten real fats like butter, lard, and tallow from animals and animal products, it’s pretty obvious what’s been causing the spike in cardiovascular and other health diseases since the industrial revolution. For a through description of how polyunsaturated fats have harmed our health, read The Oiling of America by Dr. Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. and Sally Fallon Morrell.

For more information about how important saturated fats and cholesterol are for health, visit Whole Health Source and The Health Report featuring Dr. Mary Enig, PhD., and Sally Fallon – world renowned experts on the subject.

7 Comments

  • June 22, 2010 - 7:47 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for another great post, Raine. This is some of the most crucial information necessary to understand health and nutrition, and most people have it wrong.

  • June 23, 2010 - 7:11 AM | Permalink

    Great research. This has been a hot topic in my family lately. I will point them this direction. Thanks!

  • June 23, 2010 - 10:06 AM | Permalink

    I think it’s interesting how some people will admit that real fats are good for us to eat, but will still maintain that if you eat too much, it then ceases to be good for you. It’s true, you can over-eat or over-drink anything, but what people don’t realize is that over-eating and drinking really comes from the fact that those items that are being over-eaten are not real food or drinks. Because your body cannot recognize what it is and it’s not satisfying, you still feel hungry and unsatiated. I don’t usually have trouble over-eating real food unless I have for some reason not eaten for awhile and I am over-hungry anyway. When you eat real food and real fats, the body becomes satiated at the appropriate time and can stop before too much has been eaten.

    The same simply cannot be said about fake foods. I can’t count how many times in my past I’ve eaten an entire box of cookies or chips. Doesn’t it seem strange that someone can eat this much of something that’s not good for your and still not be full? This should be a dead giveaway that it’s not real food!

  • July 22, 2010 - 8:50 AM | Permalink

    You certainly look great on ‘real food’!!:)
    The vested interests promoting false advice on what is healthy food, are massive, but, thanks to the internet, the logical, sensible advice and information is becoming more widely understood.Great stuff Raine!ps: Never listen to health advice from anyone who doesn’t look fit, vibrant and healthy.They either have it wrong, or are not practicing what they preach!

  • valerie
    July 5, 2011 - 3:14 PM | Permalink

    Hi Raine! Great post. Also, ALL damaged/oxidized fats are toxic to the body. And I mean TOXIC due to the destructive force of free radical damage! Fats are subject to being damaged during processing due to oxidative stress resulting from exposure to heat, light, and air. The more saturated a fat, the more it resists this oxidation process. The more POLYunsated a fat is, the more fragile and vunerable it is to light, heat and air. All veggie oils are at least 50% polyunsaturated. Do not cook with unrefined extra virgin olive oil b/c the particulates in the oil, that which gives it a nice green color, are very easily damaged by heat. Same with butter. If you must cook w/ olive oil, choose more refined varieties. Better than butter? Ghee! And you can oder that on line from high quality, grass fed dairy sources.

    Instead, choose for cooking; Coconut oil, lard, ghee, and tallow – all highly saturated fats. Not only do they resist oxidation outside the body, they also resist it inside the body! DO NOT consume lard from the grocery store, it will be bleached, de-oderized, and hydrogenated. Good lard is hard to find but worth the effort! Consider rendering pasture raised pig fat into lard at home in order ensure that your lard is not be damaged due to overheating. (If you collect and reuse bacon fat or other grease (lard etc), pls strain it, keep it in the refridgerator, and only reuse it a few times).

    Damaged fat are found in restaraunts and processed foods, so the further you go down the path towards health, the more you have to turn your back on these conveniences. The health food industry can’t stand up to this one, no matter how hard it tries to convience us that the boxed and packaged foods like, chips, bread, spreads, etc are nothing more than marketing ploys.

    It is not FAT that in the diet that is BAD for us, it is DAMAGED FAT in the body that is in large part fueling our declining health.

    • July 9, 2011 - 10:07 PM | Permalink

      Hi Valerie – thanks for your comments! Yes, the damaged/oxidized fats which are so prevalent in our food supply are bad, bad, bad. I don’t think many people realize how saturated processed foods are with these oils. And they are really damaging to our health. Saturated fats are the heroes of health and really do preserve so many functions in our bodies, contrary to what medical and health science tells us. Thanks for reinforcing this and leaving such a great, detailed comment. :)

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