The cornerstone of the ketogenic diet is dietary fat. To make the diet work and attain the metabolic state of ‘ketosis’, carbohydrate intake has to be extremely low while the fat intake is upped drastically. But since we all have been brainwashed for decades into believing fat is unhealthy, most of us are hesitant to get started on a ketogenic diet despite its tempting promises of quick and easy weight loss.
Thankfully, the popular trend of low-fat diets is coming to an end as the scientific community has woken up to the fact that high carb-low fat diets are the leading cause of today’s booming obesity epidemic. More and more studies are proving that adequate dietary intake of fats is indeed necessary for maintaining good health. So before we all jump on the ketogenic bandwagon, let’s just confirm just how safe such high fat intake is.
6 Reasons Why Saturated Fats are Healthy for You
Human beings have been consuming saturated fats since the beginning of their creation. All natural sources of dietary fat – ghee, butter, oils from nuts such as coconuts or almonds, nut butter, animal fat…are actually quite healthy for humans as was proven by our ancestors who ate plenty of such foods and suffered no ill effects, mostly due to their active lifestyles. It was just a few decades ago that these foods became demonized and touted as the cause of heart disease. But thankfully, new research has emerged proving we need not fear saturated fats.
You may be surprised to discover that instead of raising the risks of heart disease, as believed till now, saturated fat consumption can actually help you fight heart disease. Read on to find out how…
1 . Saturated Fats Do Not Increase Bad Cholesterol
First of all, cholesterol is not a bad thing, it is a molecule that is vital for our survival. Cholesterol has a role in every cell of our body and without it, we would die. So the human body has developed elaborate mechanisms to manufacture plenty of cholesterol on a daily basis. Cholesterol is required for the production of hormones like cortisol, testosterone, and estradiol.
What used to concern the medical community was that saturated fat can raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels. LDL is called the bad cholesterol as it is associated with elevated risks of heart disease. First of all the normal dietary intake of cholesterol is quite low when compared to the massive amounts the body itself produces daily. An egg contains just 200 mg cholesterol while the liver produces a whopping 1000 to 2000 mg of cholesterol every single day. So dietary cholesterol is not something we need to worry so much about.
New research has revealed that there are subtypes of LDL such as the small, dense LDL particles that can easily penetrate the arterial wall and the Large LDL particles that are not associated with the increased risks of heart disease. The good news is that saturated fats raise the large subtype of LDL. This means that the cholesterol-raising effects of saturated fats, which are quite mild in the first place, is not something to worry about at all!
2. Saturated Fats Raise Good Cholesterol
Now that we have established that saturated fat does not actually raise the bad cholesterol, let’s turn our attention to the good guys – the HDL (high-density lipoproteins). HDL is also known as the “good” cholesterol as it transports cholesterol away from the arteries and towards the liver, where it is either excreted or reused.
The higher the HDL levels, the lower is the risk of heart disease. Dietary intake of saturated fat raises HDL levels and thus reduces the risk of heart disease.
3. Saturated Fat Does Not Cause Heart Disease
Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at some actual human studies on the topic: A research team examined data from 21 studies which used a total of 347,747 subjects. The researchers found no association between saturated fat and the risk of heart disease. If you feel that’s a little too convenient for keto lovers, then rest assured there are other systematic reviews that looked at the evidence as a whole found no evidence of such an association.
The whole story about saturated fat causing heart disease is a myth that was never proven. But sadly it was accepted as common knowledge by all, even the medical professionals who never questioned what they were taught.
4. Saturated Fats Don’t Damage Easily in High Heat
Unsaturated fats usually contain many double bonds, so they are prone to oxidation. When unsaturated fats are heated to high temperatures, they get oxidized and form toxic byproducts. Unlike unsaturated fats, saturated fats are much less likely to react with oxygen.
So healthy fats like butter and coconut oil are the best choice when you need to cook at higher temperatures as they are more stable and don’t react with oxygen as easily.
5. Foods With Healthy Fats Are Nutritious
Natural sources of saturated fat tend to be highly nutritious. They contain an abundance of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K. Those on a ketogenic diet should ensure their fat intake is from natural and organic food sources such eggs, organs and high-fat dairy products.
Most fruits primarily contain carbs while avocados are loaded with healthy fats. In fact, 77% of calories in avocados are fat, which makes them higher in fat content than most animal foods. Oleic acid is the main fatty acid found in avocados and it is associated with many health benefits. Avocados are rich sources of potassium. They contain 40% more potassium than bananas.
6. Diets High in Fats Are Good for Weight Loss
You must have heard that “high-fat diets” will make you fat. Well!, that not really true. If a high-fat diet has plenty of sugar and refined carbs, Then you will definitely get fat. Diets that are high in fat but also low in carbs actually have the opposite effect.
Dietary fat is essential for brain health as our brain is composed of omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Stress, anxiety and other mood disorders can result from a deficiency of fats in the diet. When a person turns to a low-fat diet in an attempt to lose weight, they end up being hungry and dissatisfied. Their cravings for sugary snacks will be quite strong. High-fat diets are quite satiating. They keep blood sugar levels stable and prevents such cravings.
Yes! A ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet, but it does not mean you can eat as much as you please. Eating more calories than you can burn will make you fat, irrespective of the source of your calories. To calculate your calorie requirements based on your height, gender, and activity level and then plan out a high-fat diet to meet those requirements. As long as the carb ratio is low enough, your body will get into the fat burning mode and you’ll find yourself melting off the pounds as you dig into your melted butter and scrambled eggs