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Saturated Fats, Carbs & Your Heart:
Will the Real Culprit Please Stand Up?

Posted on March 25, 2015 


Limit saturated fats’ has been the mantra for heart health, echoed by doctors, public health and nutritionists for at least 3 decades.  But are saturated fats actually bad for your heart?

It seems that saturated fat intake alone does not predict heart disease.  In fact, up-to-date studies show that saturated fat in the diet doesn’t raise ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood, and isn’t’ in any way associated with heart disease.

This somewhat surprising finding has been borne out in a number of studies, the most important of which was huge meta-analysis (a study of studies) published in 2010 in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition that included a review of nearly 350,000 participants and concluded that there is “no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease.” 

(In fact, the study noted that further studies were needed to determine CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat in foods.)


In a fascinating blog post, called “7 Reasons To Eat More Saturated Fat” Dr. Joseph Mercola outlines seven striking benefits of eating saturated fats.  These include:

  • Improved cardiovascular risk
  • Stronger bones
  • Improved liver health
  • Healthy lungs
  • Healthy brain
  • Proper nerve signaling
  • Strong immune system

(He covers each of these in detail, and they’re worth a look.  To read his blog, go tohttp://holistichealthnaturally.com/7-reasons-to-eat-more-saturated-fat/)

In his blog “Top 8 Reasons Not to Fear Saturated Fats” http://authoritynutrition.com/top-8-reasons-not-to-fear-saturated-fats/  Kris Gunnars notes that saturated fats, are precursors to the formation of cholesterol, a molecule that makes up every cell membrane, as well as our hormones, and are vital to life.   Inside the body, saturated fats increase the molecular size of LDL cholesterol to a benign form of LDL cholesterol, and raise HDL cholesterol levels to – both of which are good for heart health.  (In fact, the higher the HDL (or High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol level, the lower your risk of heart disease.)

It appears the idea that eating saturated fats increases your risk of heart disease is another myth that was never proven.  Sadly, efforts to reduce saturated fat in the diet generally have resulted in higher glycemic diets – that is, diets higher in carbohydrates and simple sugars.  And it looks like sugar and carbohydrates may be the culprit after all.

According to Dr. Michael Peluso’s blog, ‘Healthy Eating’, (http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-carbohydrates-raise-cholesterol-5983.html) carbohydrates can RAISE levels of bad-for-you LDL cholesterol.  Here’s how:

The end result of digesting sugars and carbohydrates is either glucose or fructose, or both, which accumulate in the tissues and are metabolized into acetyl coenzyme A.  This molecule can either be further broken down if more energy is need right away, or it can be used to make cholesterol and triglycerides.

The liver is very good at making small LDL Cholesterol from excess acetyl coenzyme A.  These LDL cholesterols precursor molecules are secreted into the blood, where they form the very LDL cholesterol that gets trapped in your arteries, and causes heart disease.  In essence, excess sugar may contribute to heart disease.

Sugar is in the News in 2015

sugar-make-us-age-1Recently the WHO declared war on sugar, asking countries to do what they can to encourage a reduction in sugar consumption to below 10% of daily caloric intake.  The WHO goes on to suggest that a reduction to less than 5% would have additional health benefits.



So once again, some bad science has caused some big problems.  So hold the sugar please.  The good news is it seems to be just fine to enjoy natural saturated fats in the diet, something which we can all celebrate.

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