Which Saturated Fats Benefit Health? / Which Saturated Fats Help Health?

Original March 2014 Copyright Jaine Kirtley

Is fat good is it bad? The large study published this month (Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk - A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine[1]) which reported saturated fat does not cause heart disease has confused many people; it is not the only study to question the advice to follow a low fat diet and particularly to exclude saturated fats to avoid the risk of cardiovascular disease[1, 2]. 
Scientists agree we need to eat fat to live
The scientific study of fats is an ongoing process. Beyond doubt it is clear you need fats to live. If you didn’t have any fat in your food you would die. 
Trans Fats in Processed Foods are Destructive to Health
Scientists agree trans fat, found in many fast foods, bakery products, and margarines increase the risk of cardiovascular disease [3].
The Need to Consider the Source of Fat rather than the Type of Fat
The vast majority of studies which have explored the effects of consuming fats do not consider where fat comes from originally, the studies focus instead on the type of fat. I believe the original source of the fat is more important than the type of fat. So it is not just a case that all saturated fats are helpful or all destructive, there are high quality saturated fats and poor quality saturated fats.
High Quality Saturated Fat
Most saturated comes from animals, or from animal products like milk or cheese. If the animal has been reared in the conditions and with a diet natural to the species, for example Organic farming standards, then fat will be of a higher quality than fat from animals reared with conventional standards. 
In published research fat from organic pork was higher in omega 3 and other helpful fats[4] it also kept fresh for longer [5]. Organic meat has been shown to have more fat within the muscle of the meat, and is naturally redder in colour[6]
Organic milk had higher concentrations of beneficial fatty acids[7] [8] .[9] and a large scale scientific analysis found organic dairy products contained significantly higher protein, than the conventional types.[9]
Processing is linked to Poor Quality Detrimental Saturated Fat
The quality of meat and fats is also affected by processing or overheating. Research compared the effects of plain red meat and processed meats such as burgers, sausages, salami and meats with added  nitrates and sodium as preservatives. Results showed processed meats posed a far greater problem than red meats, and were associated with higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. [10, 11]
Other benefits of Organic Foods  
Consumption of organic foods may also reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[12]
Organic Virgin Coconut oil is a Source of High Quality Saturated Fat
Organic Virgin Coconut oil contains saturated fat, (note in warm temperatures coconut oil is liquid so is an oil, whereas in cooler rooms it is solid so may be called Coconut butter). The health benefits of Organic Virgin Coconut oil / coconut butter studied recently show there is some evidence it may be helpful to improve memory in dementia. [13, 14] Lowers the “bad” cholesterol LDL[15] improves the “good” cholesterol  HDL[16],  reduces waist-line indicating it reduces visceral fat[17]. The  saturated fat in virgin Coconut oil helps protect the heart cells.[18]

You can read more about other helpful fats, such as those found in fish, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds on the “Health-Giving Fats” article on this website. 
Choose oils labelled “cold pressed” or “extra virgin” to avoid those made by damaging heat processes. 

1.    Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, Crowe F, Ward HA, Johnson L, Franco OH, Butterworth AS, Forouhi NG, Thompson SG, et al: Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary RiskA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine 2014, 160:398-406. http://dx.doi.org/10.7326/M13-1788 
2.    DiNicolantonio JJ: The cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats: Do the dietary guidelines have it wrong? Open Heart 2014, 1. http://openheart.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000032.short 
3.    Malhotra A: Saturated fat is not the major issue. BMJ 2013, 347. http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6340?ijkey=2f39514e66076a141970d118563fa5c8e25adc4c&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha 
4.    Kim DH, Seong PN, Cho SH, Kim JH, Lee JM, Jo C, Lim DG: Fatty acid composition and meat quality traits of organically reared Korean native black pigs. Livestock Science 2009, 120:96-102. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871141308001261 
5.    Karwowska M, Dolatowski ZJ: Comparison of lipid and protein oxidation, total iron content and fatty acid profile of conventional and organic pork. International Journal of Food Science & Technology 2013, 48:2200-2206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijfs.12205 
6.    Millet S, Hesta M, Seynaeve M, Ongenae E, De Smet S, Debraekeleer J, Janssens GPJ: Performance, meat and carcass traits of fattening pigs with organic versus conventional housing and nutrition. Livestock Production Science 2004, 87:109-119. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301622603002537 
7.    Butler G, Stergiadis S, Seal C, Eyre M, Leifert C: Fat composition of organic and conventional retail milk in northeast England. Journal of Dairy Science 2011, 94:24-36. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030210006703 
8.    Ellis KA, Innocent G, Grove-White D, Cripps P, McLean WG, Howard CV, Mihm M: Comparing the Fatty Acid Composition of Organic and Conventional Milk. Journal of Dairy Science 2006, 89:1938-1950. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030206722615 
9.    Palupi E, Jayanegara A, Ploeger A, Kahl J: Comparison of nutritional quality between conventional and organic dairy products: a meta-analysis. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2012, 92:2774-2781. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.5639 
10.    Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D: Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Circulation 2010, 121:2271-2283. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/121/21/2271.abstract 
11.    Micha R, Michas G, Mozaffarian D: Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes – An Updated Review of the Evidence. Current Atherosclerosis Reports 2012, 14:515-524. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11883-012-0282-8
12.    Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau ML, Hunter GE, Bavinger JC, Pearson M, Eschbach PJ, Sundaram V, Liu H, Schirmer P, Stave C, et al: Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?A Systematic Review. Annals of Internal Medicine 2012, 157:348-366. http://dx.doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-157-5-201209040-00007  
13.    Nafar F, Mearow KM: Coconut Oil Attenuates the Effects of Amyloid-β on Cortical Neurons in vitro. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 2014, 39:233-237. http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-131436 
14.    Doty L: Coconut Oil for Alzheimer’s Disease? Clinical Practice 2012, 1:12-17. http://article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.cp.20120102.01.html 
15.    Nevin KG, Rajamohan T: Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation. Clinical Biochemistry 2004, 37:830-835. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009912004001201 
16.    Feranil AB, Duazo PL, Kuzawa CW, Adair LS: Coconut oil predicts a beneficial lipid profile in pre-menopausal women in the Philippines. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 2011, 20:190. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3146349/ 
17.    Liau KM, Lee YY, Chen CK, Rasool AH: An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. ISRN pharmacology 2011, 2011:949686. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/22164340
18.    Lemieux H, Bulteau AL, Friguet B, Tardif J-C, Blier PU: Dietary fatty acids and oxidative stress in the heart mitochondria. Mitochondrion 2011, 11:97-103. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567724910001431 
19.    Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, Covas M-I, Corella D, Arós F, Gómez-Gracia E, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, Fiol M, Lapetra J, et al: Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. New England Journal of Medicine 2013, 368:1279-1290. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303 BACKGROUND