Is Fat Bad for You? #2 Bacon and Saturated Fat

May 06, 2013

Is Fat Bad for You? #2  Bacon and Saturated Fat 

ReferencesSiri-Tarino AJCN 2010Castelli Archives of Internal MedSinatra, The Great Cholesterol Myth 

 Last week we talked about cholesterol and how its use has been found to be virtually meaningless with studies showing that high cholesterol (>200) even has longer survival than low (<200).  Perhaps the sole purpose of measuring cholesterol is to sell you drugs that lower it, as there is little scientific justification to use just the cholesterol level to manage your health.  

But what about saturated fat?  What about bacon?  I’ve avoided bacon for 30 years. Did it do me any good?  I’ve drunk low-fat milk instead of “high test” full-fat milk, fearful of its artery-clogging effects. What’s the difference between the cholesterol and saturated fat?  Saturated fat is like beef suet.  It’s the white in bacon.  It is different than cholesterol in structure and is primarily your storage fat, whereas cholesterol is your membrane and hormone making fat.  

What happens when you eat it?   Actually, your LDLs get larger and fluffier and much less dense. That makes your LDLs get SAFER, not more dangerous.  Your total cholesterol may go up, but your blood fat pattern shifts to a safer pattern as you get away from the small dense LDLs. But science is showing it not to be as dangerous as we thought. Dr Castelli, the director of the Framingham Heart Study wrote back in 1992, in reference to the data from the long running Framingham heart study, “the more saturated fat one ate, one more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol….we found that the persons who ate the….most saturated fat, …weigh the least and were the most physically active.”  

This is our longest-running American study looking at heart disease.  At the beginning, the study was first quoted as a reason NOT to eat saturated fat.  That's one of our most authoritative, prospective studies of heart disease risk. So what happens when Siri-Tarino and Hu look at 347,747 people followed in 21 studies for between 5-23 years for a direct examination of saturated fat and its effect on your health?   In 2010, looking at ALL previous studies of saturated fat, mortality and heart disease (not on cholesterol), they found a very simple answer.  “Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.” Those folks eating the most saturated fat had the same outcomes as those eating the least.  Ooops!   Did you get that?  NOT ASSOCIATED.  NOT.  Let that sink in.  

When you go to the grocery store and look at the yogurt container, it says, “LOW FAT” or “ZERO FAT”.  What’s in there if there isn’t fat?   Sugar or protein.  That means those messages on the yogurt container are meaningless.  No, worse. They are false, misleading, and dangerous. What does saturated fat do for you?  It makes you feel full.  It satisfies your hunger.  You don’t eat as often and the meal holds your appetite for longer.  And your LDLs get safer.  I can’t emphasize enough how much our entire food supply has been structured for you to be frightened of saturated fat, and how wrong every message is.  

If you want to avoid heart disease, it’s the sugar and white flour that dangerous, not the saturated fat.   Repeat, repeat, repeat.  It’s the sugar, white flour, trans fats and vegetable oils that are doing you in.  Not the bacon. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  I’m loving enjoying eggs again.  I’m slurping up those yolks with a clean conscience.  I’ve stopped buying low-fat yogurt.  I go for the high test Greek full-fat Fage yogurt.  Just delicious.  I feel full when I eat it.   And I’m doing so well, until my dear significant other bakes a homemade chocolate cake with homemade icing.  If it had just been one piece….  Meanwhile, enjoy your bacon. 

 Pop Quiz 

 1.  Saturated fat is fat that is solid at room temperature, like bacon and beef suet.  T or F        Answer:   True 

 2.  We've admonished you to eat low-fat yogurt, skim milk, margarine, and to avoid eggs and other sources of saturated fat as a means of avoiding heart attacks for about 60 years.   T or F Answer:   Yes, that's what we've been telling you. 

 3.   Current, prospective research has been showing that saturated fat is the evil demon we thought it to be.  T or F                      Answer:   True.  Despite every label in the grocery store. 

 4.   Siri-Tarino and Hu performed a massive meta-analysis of  23 different studies showing that saturated fat was still a risk for us, despite all our best efforts to say it's safe.  T or F                 Answer:  No, no no.  That's backwards.  The meta-analysis showed that it is almost completely harmless in regard to heart disease and stroke. 

 5.  It's probably just fine to eat eggs with the yolks instead of egg beaters.  T or F              Answer:   Yup 

 6. And bacon? is that Bad?                   Answer:  Nope  

Column written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity,Brookfield, WI.