Diet and Nutrition Healthy Foods

Dietary Guidelines Feed The Saturated Fat Myth

Don’t Feed Into The Saturated Fat Myth.

“Most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy.”

–Ottar Nygård

Nutrition Myth Buster: Saturated Fats

SAD & The Saturated Fat Myth

Like many experts, I was fed the saturated fat myth.  Until I “fell” into a low carbohydrate lifestyle, I would have told you that saturated fat functions to make you fat; and that fat causes poor health. I understood that eating fat would cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a whole slew of horrible diseases.

Boy, was I wrong. After working with Dr. Atkins and digging up research on all types of fats and their health benefits, I know better.

While I do agree, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is an unhealthy way to eat. SAD is a combination of eating too much: excess carbohydrates and excess fat. It is a lethal combination.

Debunking The Saturated Fat Myth

Moreover, studies show the health benefits of eating more fat. Specifically, debunking the so-called evidence that feeds the saturated fat myth. When compared with lower fat diets, high-fat diets help improve health risks for heart disease and metabolic disorders.

Heart and blood sugar risks are tied together. Additionally, improvements are seen in more medical conditions.  Polycystic ovarian syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer, and a whole host of other conditions where the risk factors decrease.

Triglycerides, HDL and LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin, and organ fat storage (in the liver, skeletal muscle, heart, and pancreas) all improve while eating saturated fat.

Admittedly, studies support the negative impact of saturated fat on health. However, in these studies, saturated fat is lumped together with commercially-made hydrogenated fats. Therefore, the findings are unfairly weighted against saturated fat. Hydrogenated and trans are unhealthy and have been proven to raise disease risk. 

Saturated fat is harmless. Objective research shows a link between eating saturated fat and many health benefits. There is no question that quality natural saturated fat foods are a better choice than flour-based commercially prepared fat/cholesterol-free foods. 

 Nutrition Guidelines Feed The Saturated Fat Myth

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines (DGs) feed the saturated fat myth. The public relies on these guidelines to make healthier choices. Unfortunately, the recommendations are based on cherry-picked science. As a result, the DGs are not objective and are based on political dogma. 

Saturated Fat is Healthy

One example of how the DGs feed the saturated fat myth is the recommendation to eat less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat.  R. Chowdhury and his research team teased through a lot of data.  Forty-nine observational studies totaling 538,141 participants and 27 randomized, controlled trials with 105,085 participants. Yet, his conclusions were not the same as the government’s recommendations.

  • “Current evidence does not support cardiovascular guidelines encouraging high consumption of polyunsaturated fats and low consumption of total saturated fats.”  


What is the reason for the 10% limit on calories from saturated fat? 

Total Carbs and Sugar Matter

Another example includes the DGs directions to lower “added-sugar intake” to less than 10 percent of daily calories. Lowering “added sugar” is not enough. One hundred percent of all carbohydrates convert into sugar after they are consumed. Any excess sugar, natural or “added”, has equal effects on the body. 


Therefore, the DGs feed into the saturated fat myth by misleading the public into thinking that only added sugar is a concern. When it comes to weight and health, the total amount of carbohydrates and sugar matter.

Conflicting Cholesterol Messages Feed The Saturated Fat Myth

A third example that feeds the saturated fat myth is the directions given by the DGs encouraging the public to avoid cholesterol (or animal protein). Why would they make this recommendation after omitting a 300 mg/day limit on cholesterol from previous recommendations? This is very confusing. 

  • “About 85 percent of cholesterol is manufactured by the body in the liver”. “It isn’t coming directly from the cholesterol that you eat.”


  • Hydrogenated or trans fats  raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.” These fats create a greater health danger than cholesterol from animal protein.”

One study divided volunteers into two groups. One group ate high amounts of animal fats and margarine. The other group replaced half the saturated fats with vegetable and corn oil. While consuming vegetable oil resulted in a 14% drop in total cholesterol levels, lower cholesterol did not translate into living longer.

Those in the unsaturated fat corn-oil group did not have less heart disease or fewer heart attacks. In fact, the lower the cholesterol, the higher the risk of dying. For every 30-point drop in cholesterol, there was a 22 percent increase in the death rate.

Health Benefits of Saturated Fat

When you eat saturated fat from god-made food there are multiple benefits.  

For example, when compared with a low-fat diet (24%), men and women who consumed a 60% fat ketogenic diet reduced markers for inflammation. Moreover, saturated fat functions to: 

  • fuel the brain 
  • lower cholesterol
  • help absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals
  • support hormone function and increase testosterone levels
  • provides cell membrane integrity
  • work as an antiviral agent and strengthens the immune system (Caprylic acid)
  • prevent cancer (butyric acid)

Believing in the saturated fat myth and avoiding these fats would affect its role in all these functions. So, eat saturated fat to fuel each body system properly. 

The Saturated Fat Myth Wrap Up

Unfortunately, public health messages have misinformed people about the benefits and dangers of saturated fat. It’stime you stop believing in The Saturated Fat Myth. Fat-free or low-fat foods containing excess carbohydrates are more dangerous than God-made natural saturated fat foods. 

 Saturated fat reduces inflammation, fuels the brain, helps to lower cholesterol, improves vitamin and mineral absorption and hormone function and works to boost immune function. Healthy eating includes all types of natural fats.

Have you had your saturated fat today?


About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.