With popular low carb diets like keto that revolve around high fat consumption, much buzz is in the air about consuming fats. Saturated fats in particular have been villainized since the 1960s and even as recently as 2018, are still heavily scrutinized.
An American scientist by the name of Ancel Keys first proposed that dietary fat is to blame for raising cholesterol levels and putting people for greater risk of heart disease. The WHO also came out with a recent statement about saturated fats and trans-fatty acids at high levels in this regard.
Again, the evidence contradicts itself where in European countries, people consume the highest levels of saturated fats yet have the lowest risk for heart disease. While observational in nature as were Keys’ findings, it casts quite a bit of doubt on what doctors and other experts have to say about fats in your diet.
What should you do about your fat consumption?
It’s little wonder that most people are left confused over the rumble in the room. Fats are bad! No they aren’t! Who is right?
Among intervention studies of those on low carb, high fat diets, there seems to be no impactful change to LDL cholesterol. What it does show is that there’s an overall reduction for the risk of heart disease.
Another interesting development was found in the PURE study, where higher saturated fat intake showed beneficial effects on many cardiovascular risk factors. While eating lots of saturated fat caused higher LDL levels, they didn’t predict future heart attacks or deaths. In essence, what your doctor isn’t telling you is that eating less saturated fat isn’t linked to decreasing your risk for cardiovascular troubles. Seven years after the PURE study, it showed saturated fat intake had no correlation with heart disease but reduced the risk for death and stroke.
The verdict on saturated fats
In the end, there isn’t much solid evidence to prove that saturated fats are a problem, particularly when following a low carb lifestyle. Additionally, the research surrounding many studies on saturated fats was conducted using participants that ate high amounts of carbs.
Many of those low carb whole foods that have the nutrients you need and fill you up including meats and dairy items have plenty of saturated fats. For metabolic conditions that improve using low carb ways of life, these benefits are more important than worrying about a risk that has not been proven.
Saturated fat intake and higher LDL levels do vary by individual. This is why you should enter cautiously into your low carb diet and watch your LDL values. If they increase, cut back on saturated fats and focus more on eating fatty fish, avocados, nuts, and olive oil to round out your fat intake.
From a health perspective, saturated fats are neutral. Keeping an eye on what you eat and your cholesterol levels is the way to stay on top of your health while living low carb the right way.