Why saturated fats are not necessarily the demon. By Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine.
1) Saturated Fats Have a High Smoke Point
Take butter and coconut oil; Both saturated fats, these have a significantly higher smoke point than other fats, meaning they remain stable at high cooking temperatures.
On the other hand, polyunsaturated vegetable oils like sunflower oil and even healthy monounsaturated olive oil become unstable when heated and so are highly reactive, meaning they encourage oxidation - an undesirable process which we don’t want going on in our bodies, hence the antioxidant craze.
2) Some Saturated Fats are Less Likely to be Stored as Fat
This is being demonstrated with coconut oil, as it contains medium-chain-fatty-acids (MCFAs), the good kind of saturated fat with potential fat-burning properties. After consumption,coconut oil’s MCFAs travel directly to the liver where they are used as an immediate fuel source to be burned off, rather than turning into adipose tissue, AKA fat.
3) Saturated Fat Fills You Up
Which is why the word ‘fattening’ is not part of my vocabulary. Too much of any food is not a good thing, but unlike sugar, and particularly fructose, which ignites the brain’s reward centre - it’s hard to eat too much saturated fat because:
- It delays stomach emptying and
- It’s satisfying, well-rounded mouth feel lingers in the mouth long after eating, so you’ll register that you’ve had enough. Next time you make a stir-fry, swap the sweet chilli sauce with some coconut oil and you’ll see what I mean.
4) Fat Aids Nutrient Absorption
Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat-soluble vitamins, meaning they require fat to be absorbed. Yellow, orange and green fruit and veg for instance are rich sources of carotenoids, which the body converts to vitamin A…So serving a skinless chicken breast with dry-baked pumpkin and carrot for the means of a low fat meal isn’t necessarily the healthiest choice.
Eat your chicken with the skin on, your egg with the yolk and serve your veg with a knob of butter or coconut butter (pureed coconut flesh – delish!) and you have a much more nutrient-dense meal, which unlike the low fat version, probably won’t leave you wanting something sweet after.
5) Saturated Fat Does Not Necessarily Raise Cardiovascular Disease Risk
A recent meta-analysis (a research method combining and contrasting results from different studies) on the impact of fats on cardiovascular disease (CVD) yielded surprising results: Covering 72 studies with over 60,000 individuals and spanning 18 countries, it found that it was trans fats and not saturated fats that increased CVD risk.
AKA hardened fats, trans fats encourage ‘bad’, artery-clogging LDL cholesterol; Trans fats form when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it solid, making it suitable for foods like margarine and long-life baked goods.
Worth noting is that monounsaturated fats – in foods like avocado, almonds and olive oil – also proved to benefit heart health, as did essential omega-3 fats like oily fish and linseed. Variety is key.
Try Spiral’s Coconut Butter and Coconut Spread for a delicious dose of healthy fat. Find out more about Spiral’s range of coconut food products here: www.spiralfoods.com.au