There are many things wrong with mainstream nutrition, but the constant propaganda against saturated fat and cholesterol is the worst.
As people have reduced their intake of healthy and nutritious high-fat foods, diseases like obesity and diabetes have taken over the world.
But… there’s good news. New studies are showing that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol don’t cause harm in humans. It is a myth that has now been debunked.
Don’t believe me? A review article published in 2010 that included almost 350 thousand people concluded: There is no association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease (1).
There have also been several massive studies conducted on the low-fat diet that is still cherished by the mainstream. These studies show that the low-fat diet has zero effect on weight, heart disease and cancer (2, 3, 4, 5).
The research is clear… “artery-clogging” saturated fat doesn’t actually clog your arteries. It’s nonsense (6).
Dietary cholesterol is harmless as well (7).
The fact of the matter is, foods that are naturally high in saturated fat and cholesterol are some of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet.
Here are 5 “artery-clogging” foods that are actually pretty healthy.
1. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re often called “nature’s multivitamin.”
Removing the yolk is just about the worst thing you can do. That’s where all the vital nutrients are found… the white is mostly just protein.
Just think about it… a whole egg contains all the proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals needed to turn a single fertilized cell into a little baby chicken.
It is not true that eggs harm your cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. Eggs raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and increase the size of the LDL particles, both of which are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (8, 9, 10).
Whole eggs are also loaded with the antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthine, which are important for eye health. They also contain large amounts of choline, which is crucial for the brain and about 90% of people don’t get enough of (13, 14).
Of course… quality counts and not all eggs are created equal. Try to find Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs.
Bottom Line: Eggs have been unfairly demonized because they contain cholesterol, but new studies show that they don’t raise the bad cholesterol in the blood. Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.
2. Unprocessed Red Meat
In the past few decades, red meat has gotten a bad rap.
It has been unfairly blamed for all sorts of diseases… including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
However, humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands (or millions) of years and these health problems are relatively new. Blaming an old food for new health problems doesn’t make sense.
One reason for these misconceptions about meat, is that the studies don’t always differentiate between processed and unprocessed meat.
While it is true that processed meat is linked to these diseases, the same is not true for unprocessed red meat.
In one massive Harvard study that analyzed 20 studies with a total of 1,218,380 participants, processed meat was linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, but no effect was found for unprocessed red meat (17).
A major study from Europe found no effect for unprocessed red meat either (18).
The cancer link probably depends on the cooking method, because there is some evidence that meat can form carcinogens when it is overcooked. The answer is not to avoid meat, but to make sure not to burn it (21).
When we look past the propaganda and fear mongering, what we’re left with is a highly nutritious food that humans have been eating throughout evolution.
So… eat your meat. Just make sure to buy quality, unprocessed meat and don’t overcook it.
Bottom Line: Despite the fear mongering, unprocessed red meat does not increase the risk of heart disease or diabetes. The link with cancer is very weak and is probably caused by overcooking, not the meat itself.
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that have powerful health benefits.
Studies show that dark chocolate has many benefits for the heart:
- Dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure (31, 32).
- It raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and reduces the risk of the LDL particles becoming oxidized, which would render them harmful (33, 34).
- Several observational studies show that people who eat dark chocolate regularly have up to a 50-57% lower risk of heart disease, which is the most common cause of death in the world (35, 36).
Given that dark chocolate has all these amazing effects on the heart… it might surprise you to hear that it is actually loaded with saturated fat.
In fact, about 43% of calories in 85% dark chocolate are from saturated fats (37).
Bottom Line: Dark chocolate is very high in saturated fat, but still has major benefits for the heart. It lowers blood pressure, raises HDL and prevents cholesterol from becoming oxidized, reducing the risk of heart disease.
4. Coconut Oil
The populations that eat the most coconut fat are some of the healthiest people on the planet.
This includes the Tokelauans, which get over 60% of their calories from coconut.
Because the majority of the calories in coconut are from saturated fat, this makes the Tokelauans the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world.
Guess what… these people are in excellent health, with no evidence of heart disease (38).
There is also evidence that coconut oil can raise HDL and reduce Total and LDL cholesterol compared to soybean oil (43).
There are even studies suggesting that the fatty acids in coconut oil can help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s (45).
Despite being higher in saturated fat than any other food on the planet, coconut oil is incredibly healthy. For you, your brain AND your heart.
Bottom Line: Coconut oil is high in fatty acids that can boost metabolism and reduce appetite. It also improves risk factors for heart disease.
5. High-Fat Dairy Products Like Butter and Cheese
Full-fat dairy has taken a double hit in the past few decades.
First, it was demonized because of the high amount of saturated fat, which made people think it was causing heart disease.
Then, the obesity epidemic came along and people started recommending low-fat dairy because it is lower in calories.
However… despite the calories, studies do not support that full-fat dairy leads to weight gain. In fact, eating full-fat dairy is linked to a reduced risk of obesity (46).
It’s important to keep in mind that not all dairy is the same. What the cows eat does have a major effect on the nutrient composition.
Most cows are fed grain-based feeds these days, but they ate mostly grass back in the day. It turns out that dairy from grass-fed cows is different in some extremely important ways.
It is also one of the best sources of a nutrient called Vitamin K2, which most people are severely lacking in.
Vitamin K2 helps regulate calcium metabolism… keeping calcium in your bones and out of your arteries. It may be one of the most important nutrients for the health of both your bones and heart (49, 50).
In countries where cows are largely grass-fed, consuming full-fat dairy products like butter is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
In one study from Australia (where cows are grass-fed), people who ate the most full-fat dairy had a 69% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (51).
The Biggest Mistake in The History of Nutrition
The misguided advice to avoid all these delicious and nutritious high-fat foods has actually fueled the epidemics of heart disease, obesity and premature death.
The “war” on saturated fat and cholesterol is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition. Period.