Ever since I was old enough to walk, I have loved butter. My mother had a picture of me at the age of three, standing on a chair and digging my fingers into the butter dish.
Yes, people, I’m a butter whore.
But let’s be clear. Not just any butter will do. Eating butter is like driving a car. Not all butter is created equal. Real butter is a luxury limousine; margarine is the rat’s ass Yugo.
When Butter Wasn’t Cool
A long time ago, I was married to a doctor’s son. When we would go to his parents’ house for dinner, I commented on their use of margarine. The doctor harrumphed that real butter was full of saturated fat and very bad.
I had no real comeback at the time. I just knew he was wrong! I think I told him that butter was “real” versus the man made conglomerate known as margarine. He paid me little mind. It didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t going to eat that cheap swill anyway.
Turns out I was right after all.
But at the time, Ancel Keys, the scientist who taught us to fear fat, had everyone believing that saturated fat was evil. We all had to lower our fat intake in order to be healthy. Keyes did more to wreck the dinner table than just about anybody.
Doctors everywhere began the drill down of decreasing our fat to keep evil cholesterol from killing us. The problem was none of it was true. Even though Keyes’ own evidence didn’t support his theory, he was so convinced of it, that he successfully sold it to the medical community.
And the rest as they say is history.
One of the many problems with Keys’ theory was that all fat was lumped into the same category–bad! Saturated fat was a particular no-no. Because heart disease had become the number one health killer, and still is today, scientists wanted to know how to stop it.
Researchers found that consuming saturated fat appeared to increase cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. That was an important discovery because scientists also knew that high levels of cholesterol were linked to an increase risk of heart disease.
So, they added up–incorrectly–all the pieces of the research problem and came to this conclusion:
If saturated fat does raise cholesterol levels in the body, and cholesterol causes heart disease, then saturated fat caused heart disease.
However, this was a working theory. It was never tested and proven in humans. Today, we have plenty of evidence from human studies that prove this theory wrong.
So What Is The Truth About Saturated Fat And Butter?
Yes, saturated fat does raise the “bad” or LDL cholesterol in your blood a little bit. But 20th century scientists ignored the fact that it also raises the good cholesterol, HDL.
The so called bad cholesterol wasn’t really bad, either. In fact, there are actually different subtypes of LDL. The small LDL lipoproteins can pass through the arterial wall very easily, which can lead to heart disease.
The large LDL’s are big and fluffy. These guys don’t penetrate the arterial walls very easily. So if you are a person with a lot of the small LDL’s, you do have 3x greater risk of heart disease.
But what’s not commonly known is that eating saturated fat actually changes the small LDL’s to the large LDL’s. Hello, butter!
In a nutshell, even though the evidence suggests that saturated fat mildly raises the LDL that’s common with heart disease, it changes it to the large benign LDL that reduces the risk of heart disease.
And those low fat diets…?
Low fat diets are a real killer because they raise the small LDL lipoproteins. Low carb diets, on the other hand, have a positive effect on the heart because they increase the number of fluffy, or large, LDL’s.
Bottom line: Saturated fat does NOT harm the blood lipid profile as 20th century scientists once believed.
But, getting this new message out is proving way more challenging–and it’s killing us!
Today, it’s so common to see people hunker down over a fast food “healthy” meal with a diet soda and some cookies. The result? Over a third of Americans are overweight.
Diabetes is running rampant; kids are sucking down sodas like it’s water, and the public is afraid of butter.
The Women’s Health Initiative, the largest nutritional study in history, found that eating a low fat diet had zero effect on heart disease, cancer and death.
Let’s face it; 46,835 women over an eight year period were in this study, and nobody got healthy. In fact, several other studies actually replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated vegetable oils. You know what happened?
More people in the vegetable oil groups died.
Check out this entertaining and educational video outlining the whole lipid hypothesis debacle. Learn the truth about cholesterol and saturated fat. If you don’t get a little pissed off, I’ll be surprised.
In the next post, I’m going to show you why eating butter and other good fats actually helps you control your weight.