Southern Californians have a reputation for nutritious eating, so I was very excited to talk to my friend ABC Eyewitness News Reporter Lori Corbin on this TV segment about saturated fat. Sadly, our discussion about Malaysian sustainable palm oil got cut from this segment. (But if you watch closely, you can see the bottle for about a second.)
The important news is that Corbin, who is a food coach with a significant following in California, is helping to teach people the truth about saturated fat, which is now finally getting the thumbs up from many health and nutrition experts (myself included). As I told her, saturated fat got blamed for a lot of things that it doesn’t really cause. Especially heart disease.
Saturated fatty acids, such as those found in Malaysian palm oil, are perfectly fine to consume. Even if they do raise overall cholesterol levels, a look “under the hood” will reveal that they tend to raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol and LDLa particles (which are pretty much harmless), while they lower LDLb particles (which are atherogenic). Many studies have found that the nutrients in palm oil are also good for your brain. They help to reduce white matter lesions and may be protective in case of stroke. We have little to fear from healthy, sustainable, antioxidant-rich palm oil from Malaysia.
Admittedly, this is a confusing time for people who just want to do the right thing when it comes to their diet. For decades, we were told that low-fat foods were healthier for us. Even though it’s become clear that there is not – and never was – any real scientific evidence to support this claim, it will take a while for the advice from “health authorities” to catch up to reality. You’re still going to see plenty of “heart-healthy” symbols next to egg-white omelets and lots of supposedly “healthy” recipes, for example, which call for low-fat ingredients. That’s not going to change overnight.
The reality is that the low-fat movement really been a colossal failure. Seriously, study after study shows that people don’t lose significant amounts of weight and don’t seem to show much metabolic benefits. (High triglycerides, for example, are practically guaranteed on a high-processed carb/low-fat diet.) The health benefits just aren’t there. Ironically, people who eat the full-fat dairy we’ve been warned away from have less diabetes!
The fact that I don’t think saturated fat is harmful hardly means I’m advocating fast-food burgers and fries. Toxic fat is still toxic fat, but its toxicity has nothing to do with it being saturated and everything to do with how the animal it came from was raised. Choose grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and poultry, and sustainably sourced seafood. Eat a predominantly plant-based diet. And start cooking with sustainable palm oil.