Heart Myth Debunked: Saturated Fat Isn’t the Enemy
We’ve long been told that saturated fats are bad. But the fact is saturated fats are the good guys. They help to raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, improving your triglyceride/HDL ratio—a key marker of cardiovascular health.
Saturated fats also help to change your LDL cholesterol pattern, from small dense particles that can clog your arteries to large “fluffy” harmless LDL particles. Plus, a recent study at Harvard University concluded that, “greater saturated fat intake is associated with less progression of atherosclerosis.”
In fact, the balance of inflammatory omega-6s versus heart-healthy omega-3s in your diet is far more important than whether a fat is saturated or not.
What does this mean for your diet?
- Go ahead and eat beef—but make it grass-fed beef. Grass-fed beef is usually organically raised, so it’s not filled with antibiotics, steroids, hormones, or inflammatory omega-6 fats.
- You can have butter. Just eat it in moderation.
- Eggs are perfectly heart healthy. Cage-free, DHA-fortified organic eggs are a perfect protein and can be eaten quite frequently, up to six a week.
- Enjoy a handful of nuts. Some of the best ones to choose from are almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts. Almonds are also a good source of gamma tocopherol, a form of vitamin E that neutralizes artery damaging peroxynitrite (a free radical).
Yet, one fat you should avoid is vegetable oil, which is damaged in cooking and subject to harmful oxidation. It’s far more damaging to your heart than butter. Instead, cook with coconut oil and drizzle olive oil on salads or vegetables. If you use olive oil for cooking, choose light (not extra virgin) olive oil and cook it on low heats.
Now it’s your turn: Do you eat any of these no longer “forbidden” high-fat foods?
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Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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