Like Butter? Great!

Love Butter? Great!

Fat in butter and other foods have been maligned for many years as the cause of heart disease and stated as the reason we have become a fat and unhealthy society.

But is butter and saturated fat the reason we get heart disease?

Studies now show that the previously suggested dietary guidelines to reduce total fat and saturated fat intake, and increase polyunsaturated fat intake, are questionable and the evidence that a diet high in saturated fat leads to an increase in heart disease, is doubtful. This rethinking stems from a recent discovery that the once thought to be bad cholesterol (LDL) actually comes in 2 forms; big fluffy particles which are good, and small dense particles which are bad and are the ones associated with causing heart disease.

We now know that saturated fat helps to increase the levels of the good fluffy type of LDL cholesterol particles in our blood and the bad small dense LDL cholesterol particles are raised by sugars, white bread, bagels, crackers, baked goods, cookies and even soda, making them the real culprits for increasing the risk of heart disease. Not saturated fats!

So are all fats off the hook as a health concern?

The human altered fats, “Trans Fats”, are not good. Trans Fats are fats that have been man-made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil making it a partially hydrogenated oil. This process allows fats to remain in a solid state. It helps to prevent oils from separating from solids in products such as peanut butter. These man-made Trans Fats are the bad fats and are the real fat culprits in addition to sugars for causing and increasing the risk of heart disease. Trans Fats are the ones we need to avoid.

But have you ever looked at a food label and seen Trans Fats listed as an ingredient? No, not usually. That’s because Trans Fats, which we all know are bad (and manufacturers do as well) are disguised on the label as “partially hydrogenated oil”. The important thing to remember is that “partially hydrogenated oils” are Trans Fats. We need to look for “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on food labels and avoid them.

Now back to butter. Butter is a Saturated Fat. And for years we’ve been told to avoid that yummy stuff but the reasons for avoiding it is not supported by scientific evidence (see link below). In fact the evidence shows that saturated fats in food, such as butter, cause the body to produce the good fluffy LDL that does not increase our risk of heart disease. So go ahead, enjoy some butter it’s a feel good food and does not appear to increase your risk of heart disease!

The Bottom Line:

  1. I am not concerned about an intake of a moderate amount of saturated fats.
  2. I am very concerned about Trans Fats. You need to be vigilant reading labels as they are generally not called Trans fats and are usually disguised as “partially hydrogenated oil”. The oil that is partially hydrogenated may be practically any oil. It really doesn’t matter which one, they are all bad. Avoid them all.
  3. Reduce your intake of sugar, white bread, bagels, crackers, baked goods, cookies and soda! These are the some of the culprits that lead to heart disease. Remember, the small dense particles in LDL are raised by intake of these tasty items.

Where to look for Trans Fats:

Margarine, chocolate bars, energy bars, peanut butter (there are ones without them), cooking oils. OK just look for it in anything that sits on the shelf! You will get really good at spotting the things that are contrary to your good health!

Evidence about the health effects of saturated and unsaturated fats as published on PubMed:

Evidence about the health effects of Trans Fats as published on PubMed:

Evidence about the effects of sugar and carbohydrates on “Bad” cholesterol (the small dense particles of LDL that are associated with heart disease) in the blood as published on PubMed: