Are Saturated Fats Healthy?

The story of saturated fats is rich and complex.

Much like the fats themselves.

Saturated Fats - Too Rich For Your Blood?

Saturated fats have been condemned for much of recent history.

Since the 1950s, saturated fat has been officially decried as a putative causative factor in cardiovascular disease.

For more than a half-century, cardiovascular research and prevention have been dominated by this lipid hypothesis - despite the fact that "the number of contradictory studies may exceed those that are supportive."

In unofficial circles, however, such demonization of saturated fat may be even older.

Nowhere is this demonization as evident - and literal - as in the century-old distinction between the fat-free Angel Food Cake and its buttery counterpart Devil's Food Cake.

Similarly, the similarly-aged idiom "too rich for my blood" suggests that popular association between fat and cardiovascular disease predates the lipid hypothesis.

And because, historically, the majority of dietary fat in Western cultures was derived from animal sources, "dietary fat" was equivocated to "animal fat" until at least the industrial revolution.

And, of course, "animal fat" = "saturated fat".

Or does it?

Saturated Fat Does Not Equal Animal Fat

"Saturated fat" absolutely does not equal "animal fat".

"Saturated fat" is, in fact, a complete misnomer.

"Saturated Fat" Doesn't Even Exist

Or, more precisely, no completely-saturated fat exists.

Saturated fatty acids, though, most definitely exist.

Each dietary fat is itself chiefly composed of a complex of fatty acids.

A complex which - for natural fat sources - varies with the environment and diet of the animal or plant from which that fat is derived.

"Saturated Fat" = "Solid @ Room Temperature"

When such saturated fatty acids comprise the majority of fatty acids, this fat is solid at room temperature.

Leading to the artificial, umbrella categorization of all such fats as "saturated".

Saturated Fat - Animal vs. Botanical

Many saturated fats are derived from animal sources.

But this is hardly exclusive.

Numerous plant-derived fats are considered saturated, including:

Such plant-derived saturated fats are widely reputed for their health benefits.

In direct contrast to the popular demonization of saturated fat in general.

So what makes plant-derived saturated fats different?

Solid At Room Temperature vs. Solid At Body Temperature

So any fat solid at room temperature is considered saturated.

But this is an artificial, arbitrary categorization.

After all, what's so special about "room temperature"?

It tells us nothing about how the fat will behave in the body.

A more useful division is based on body temperature.

Solid in the Body = Clotted in the Body

Dietary fats are not absorbed whole by the intestine, but are metabolised into free fatty acids and monoglyerides.

That notwithstanding, however, if a dietary saturated fat is solid at body temperature - at approximately 37°C (98.6°F) - it will tend to produce solid, saturated fatty acids in the body.

And solid = clotted.

The following tables summarize the melting points of several common plant-derived, animal-derived, and artificial saturated fats:

Natural Plant-Derived Saturated Fats
Fat Melting Point (°C)
Coconut Butter 24
Palm Kernel Oil 24
Mowrah Butter 24 - 28
Murumuru Butter 25 - 37
Illipe Butter 28 - 37
Shea Butter 31 - 38
Cocoa Butter 34 - 36
Sal Butter 34 - 38
Palm Oil 35
Kokum Butter 34 - 40
Natural Animal-Derived Saturated Fats
Fat Melting Point (°C)
Butter 32 - 35
Beef Tallow 35 - 40
Lard 35 - 45
Mutton Tallow 42 - 49
Suet 45 - 50
Cheese, Brie 51
Cheese, Mozzarella 57
Cheese, Cheddar 65
Cheese, Parmesan 82
Artificial Saturated Fats
Fat Melting Point (°C)
Margarine 34 - 43
Shortening 46 - 48

This data suggests an intriguing, elegantly-simple trend:

  1. Natural plant-derived saturated fats tend to be liquid at body temperature.
  2. Natural animal-derived saturated fats tend to be solid at body temperature.
  3. Artificial saturated "frankenfats" are solid at body temperature.

Not All Saturated Fat Is Created Equal

Now, other mechanisms - such as the high medium-chain triglyceride content of coconut butter and palm kernel oil - may certainly explain some of the health benefits of plant-based saturated fats.

Likewise, other mechanisms - such as a generally-high ratio of pro-inflammatory omega-6 to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids - may underlie some of the negative health effects of animal-based saturated fats.

And there are no shortage of other mechanisms compounding the health dangers of trans-fat laden, artificial "frankenfats".

Yet, this simple divide - whether a saturated fat is solid or liquid at body temperature - beautifully mirrors the division between the noted health benefits of plant-derived saturated fats, and the health dangers associated with many animal-derived and artificial saturated fats.

Food for Thought

Too simple to be true?

Or the elegant simplicity of Occam's Razor?

Is this association truly solid and robust ?

Or - like the fats it describes - does it only appear to be solid under certain conditions?

Either way, this basic divide - whether a saturated fat is solid or liquid at body temperature - provides a practical, elegantly-simple tool for understanding and even predicting the health effects of a given saturated fat in vivo.

Naturopathic Medicine & Homeopathy Testimonials

Andy used homeopathy and bowen technique to treat the itching, burning pimples I used to have around my mouth.

My skin was already feeling better after the treatment, and my face cleared up after a couple of weeks.

I've had the occasional pimple since then, but the homeopathy treatment always seems to make my skin clear up really quickly.

Adam B, Surrey (White Rock / South Surrey), BC

I had lots of problems all over my body when I first was referred to you.

I peed myself when I laughed or jumped up and down, and felt like I constantly had to go to the bathroom, but nothing would come out.

My heart also felt like it was jumping out of my chest sometimes.

Homeopathy never had worked for me in the past, but your remedy really did the trick.

And the neuroemotional work helped me to recognize and let go of a bunch of old traumas I had been holding on to.

The exercises you gave me for the pelvic floor strengthening also seemed to help me get control of my bladder.

Lisa A., Langley (Aldergrove), BC

I've always had an addictive personality, which can be great when I put it towards something productive, like work.

Last year, before your homeopathic prescription and the neuro-emotional treatment, I was a full-blown alcoholic, and smoked four packs a day.

I'd lose myself in destructive things like gambling and food.

Now I only drink or smoke socially and irregularly ... once or twice a month maximum.

And I'm in control the whole time.

The doctor tells me my liver is doing much better too.

I'm also not coughing or hacking up stuff like I had.

C.P., Parksville, BC

Andy responded so compassionately to my nephew's diagnosis of this life threatening and shocking skin disease, and quickly found the remedy that miraculously turned the disease around.

You could actually see the lesions disappearing and within hours he was on the road to full recovery.

Thomas Schell, Nova Scotia / New Brunswick

For most of my life, I felt as though I couldn't breathe - there was so much mucus and congestion in my lungs and nose.

I was sick a lot too, in my lungs and nose, plus infections in my bladder. 

But I would also get this same congested feeling when I would get panic attacks.

Andy's homeopathic remedy, bowen treatment, and neuroemotional exercises let me get to the source of my sickness and cure it.

Now I only rarely get sick or panicky.

And I always seem to get over it pretty quickly when it does come.

The change in my mood is like night and day too.

Carol K., Burnaby, BC

I have seen a huge shift in myself - mentally, physically and emotionally.

It's awesome! 

Things are going really great and most importantly I am connecting on all these different levels. 

Yesterday, I was jumping on my bed with my kids and I wasn't having those crazy heart palpitations, I wasn't even out of breath, I am not cold...I could go on and on...thank you.

Tamar Conner, Kentville, Nova Scotia

The tics and spastic outbursts were able to be gradually helped by the homeopathic medicine and bowen technique.

Until now, I barely have them at all.

The neuroemotional work also helped restore my mobility.

Margret D, Burnaby (Brentwood, North Burnaby), BC

I had mono years ago, and then started getting all these immune problems - wheezing, itching, coughing up phlegm, and having really low energy levels.

And it used to feel like I was allergic to everything!

I got sicker and sicker for years before I found Andy.

His homeopathy and neuroemotional technique gradually made me feel stronger and healthier.

Now I just get infections once or twice a year, and when I do, they're not severe or debilitating at all.

Even my dyslexia and reading problems seem to have gotten better with the Bowen technique and biofeedback.

G.D., Burnaby, BC

I want to take the time to say how much I appreciate your excellent work in improving my health.

There was something unsettled in my gastrointestinal system that my family doctor wasn't able to fix and I was suffering daily.

In less then 6 months of being in your care I was feeling better than ever.

Not only were my specific problems taken care of but I've also noticed that my overall physical and mental health are greatly improved.

I recommend your services to any of my friends, family or co-workers who have health complaints.

Colin Aspinall, Port Coquitlam, BC

Back & sleep both are very good now - I don't feel pain or tight muscles any more! Mind is less anxious and worried too, and eyes don't blink without control as before.

Christine R., North Vancouver (Pemberton Heights), B.C.

Pages