You’ve probably heard that too much saturated fat is bad for you. Would you be surprised if I told you that you absolutely need saturated fat and even cholesterol in order to produce the hormones you need to function each day?
Fats, especially saturated fats, provide key nutrients that you need to heal and maintain your health. In fact, most of the other foods you eat can simply not be absorbed without fat. Vitamins such as D and A are dependent on fat for absorption (which makes skim milk a very pointless thing to consume).
Not only do you need fat to absorb nutrients; you also need fat to build and repair your body:
- Your brain needs fat. Sixty percent of your brain is made of fat, and half of those fats are saturated. Every time you eat saturated fat, you are nourishing your brain and providing yourself with the nutrition you need to think clearly.
- Your cells need fat. Every healthy cell membrane in your body is made up of at least 50 percent saturated fat. Why? Because saturated fats provide stiffness to the cell walls, keeping them from becoming “floppy,” according to biochemist Mary Enig. Cells receive and send out hormones, so if the cell walls don’t have structural integrity from enough saturated fat, those hormones simply won’t function correctly.
- Your bones need fat. You can take calcium supplements, but studies have shown that unless at least 50 percent of your dietary fats are saturated, the calcium in your diet can’t be incorporated into your bones.
- Your liver needs fat. A healthy liver is essential to maintaining clean blood, keeping hormone levels right, and adjusting blood sugar levels. Saturated fats work to protect the liver from toxins that can clog your liver and keep it from doing its job.
- Your heart needs fat. Yes, you read that right! In fact, studies have shown that saturated fats are the heart’s preferred food. Saturated foods protect against inflammation, keeping the tissues surrounding the heart healthy.
- Your lungs need fat. Your lungs have fluid in them that is normally 100 percent saturated, so if your diet doesn’t contain enough saturated fat, you can begin to have breathing difficulties, such as asthma.
- Your kidneys need fat. When you suffer from fatigue, it often shows in poor kidney function (and high or low blood pressure). Omega-3 fatty acids, saturated fats, and cholesterol all work together to maintain normal kidney function.
- Your hormones need fat. Many hormones are produced from cholesterol. You can even see the root word sterol, which is also in steroid. Steroid hormones like cortisol, produced by healthy adrenal glands, are dependent on adequate amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet.
Did you catch that cholesterol is needed, too?
The hormones that the adrenal cortex makes are all derived from our best friend–cholesterol. Yes, cholesterol is the precursor to all the valuable adrenal hormones that help us deal with stress, inflammation and trauma, and that help our body to heal. Therefore adrenal insufficiency (lack of adrenal cortical hormones) is a fat deficiency. So the first step is simple and logical: eat more fat, especially cholesterol-rich animal fat. One of these fats should be cod liver oil to supply vitamin A. The adrenal cortex cannot make adrenal hormones out of cholesterol without vitamin A. [Source]
The digestion of fats gets complicated, but it’s easy to remember that good fats come from real food, whereas bad fats come from fake, manufactured, and man-made foods.
- Real butter contains healthy fats, but margarine contains bad fats. Never eat the stuff (or foods containing margarine, such as commercial French fries, doughnuts, or most baked goods).
- Whole cream, sour cream, and cottage cheese come from real milk. Read the labels carefully to be sure man-made foods such as carrageenan aren’t snuck in when you’re not looking. (I recommend Daisy brand.)
- Coconut products contain excellent fats for healing from fatigue. Again, check the labels carefully, and choose those products that contain real coconut – and no other additives.
- Meat from animals fed on green grass, without being confined in barns, contains an excellent ratio of fats that you need to heal. Although more expensive, do your best to obtain organic, grass-fed, free-range meat rather than commercial meat.
- Vegetable oils are fine in moderation, as long as they are not heated. This means that they shouldn’t be heated before you purchase them either. Stop using “junk” oils that are inexpensive to manufacture but will rob you of your good health, such as canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, Crisco, peanut oil, or any standard “vegetable” oils on your grocery store shelves. Look instead for cold-pressed oils, such as extra virgin olive oil. Shop from reputable manufacturers. This is one area in which it pays to spend a little more money. Note that some oils need to be purchased in small quantities and stored in a cool, dark place, possibly even refrigerated, so that they don’t become rancid.
- Eat lots of eggs, preferably from free-range chickens that are fed a natural, organic diet. You need the fat, cholesterol, protein, and numerous nutrients that eggs provide.
Add good fats to your diet in great amounts! While it takes getting used to if you’ve been living in our politically-correct, low-fat culture, good fats add delicious flavor and satisfaction to your meals.
- Cook with plenty of butter. Smother your vegetables with butter, for instance. Seasonings stick better, too!
- Add cream, butter, and coconut oil to your breakfast.
- Thickly spread the butter on your bread before adding raw honey. (Have you ever wondered why small toddlers sneak their fingers into the butter dish and eat large amounts when you’re not looking? Maybe you should start sneaking it again, too!)
- Eat slices of raw, whole cheeses with your meals. Becoming a food gourmet has never been more fun – or healthful!
 Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, Eat Fat, Lose Fat (New York: Hudson Street Press, 2005), pp. 44-47.