|Mmmm...delicious globules of fatty FAT!|
I've been studying, experimenting and evolving my attitudes and beliefs about diet for a long, long time now. Low carb this, paleo that, caloric restrictions or going vegan... focusing on the diet and lifestyle proscriptions in total, I believe they all miss the most important aspect of any diet: KNOW YOUR FATS.
Eating as much healthy fats in your diet as you can is the key to your health and well being. Fats lead to satiety, nutrient absorption and most importantly of all, protection.
The healthy fats will make you thrive. They will protect you from the worst effects of other junk food, alcohol consumption and other poisons you may ingest. The healthy fats protect your liver and give your body the best material to work with when it has to manufacture the hormones, neuro-transmitters, and other substances vital for healthy living. More specifically, the healthy fats give you the most overlooked class of nutrients: Fat Soluble Vitamins. Vitamins A, D, and K. And these vitamins work in synergy - in other words the combination of those vitamins are vital for your body to digest protein, absorb minerals and nutrients, build your bones and teeth, and support the good gut flora that is the foundation of your immune system. More specifically these are the fats you should be eating on a regular basis - especially if you're pregnant.
Bone Marrow and Rendered Ruminant Fat - best if sourced from free range, pastured animals that have access to their natural diet and plenty of sunshine. The best way to get this is to make Bone Broth. There's a reason the old wives tales suggest chicken noodle soup for a cold. That's because before the days of canned soup full of additives and having all the fat removed, chicken noodle soup was made with the boiled carcass of roast chicken. All of the marrow, tendons, skin and cartilage would be rendered into the broth's liquid. The fat globules you see floating on the surface of the broth? That's the MAGIC.
Next time your sick, go buy some soup bones, or a whole chicken (from grass fed/free range animals would be optimal). Boil it with some sea salt and a bit of raw apple cider vinegar. That deliciously fatty broth is a rich source of vitamins and minerals rendered from the boiling of bones. If $$ or availability is really an issue, than forget it, it's better to make it with typical grocery store meat even if they were from a feedlot animal.
The fat, tendons, cartilage and marrow are still great medicine for whatever ails you. I recently caught a mild flu from some friends. They missed work for a whole week, and barley left their house, coughing, running noses, soar throats and fevers for five days straight.
As soon as I felt the symptoms, I went to a local Pho restaurant and ordered up a bowl of Vietnamese bone broth soup, in which they boil the shin bones of cow for over 24 hours to make the soup base. I ate the entire bowl, then ordered one for takeout to eat first thing the next day. My throat was mildly irritated, I had a slight cough, and a very low grade fever. It was completely gone in 24 hours. I truly believe a large part of my immune systems strength and why I was able to shake off the flu so quickly and with minimal effects was the immunity boosting effect of the bone broth's Fat soluble vitamins.
Your gut bacteria is the engine of your immune system. Bone broth us rich in vitamins, minerals, collagen, can heal damaged guts and boost your immune system.
Butter and Dairy Foods from Grass Fed Ruminants - In most places in the USA, you can find KerryGold Irish butter from Ireland. It cost double what butter from US factory style dairy. It's worth every penny. Use this butter as one of your base cooking oils. It makes everything taste better. Better yet, put that butter on any and all your steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, brussel sprouts, squash, etc. Or sautee your veggies in it. That butter is rich in the fat soluble vitamins AND it also helps your digestive system absorb the nutrients from the foods your eating with it.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Speaking of fats helping you absorb vitamins, minerals and nutrients, this is where the idea of salad dressing came from. Except now most salad dressing people eat are commercially made, "low fat" and made with vegetable oil crap and have sweeteners and other garbage in the ingredients. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and some good quality vinegar and you're also good to go. Everyone knows EVOO is good for you....but most don't know that it's very susceptible to heat and you should never really cook with it. At best, add it to your stir fry or dish right at the end of your cooking so it's not heated up too much and for too long.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - Other than rendered bone broth and grass fed cow butter...EVCO is the holy grail of cooking fats. From Coconut Oil for Optimum Health:
Coconut oil is the most saturated of all fats. Saturated fat has three subcategories: short chain, medium chain and long chain. Coconut oil contains approximately 65% medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). Although recognized for its health benefits many centuries ago, it wasn’t until 40 years ago that modern medicine found the source to be MCFA. Remarkably, mother’s milk contains the same healing powers of coconut oil. 
The saturated medium chain lipid lauric acid, which comprises more than 50 percent of coconut oil, is the anti-bacterial, anti-viral fatty acid found in mother’s milk.  The body converts lauric acid into the fatty acid derivative monolaurin, which is the substance that protects adults as well as infants from viral, bacterial or protozoal infections. This was recognized and reported as early as 1966. 
Since the first half of the 19th century, infection has been implicated as a cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD).  Researchers have been studying what causes the changes in the arterial wall. Professors Russell Ross and John Glomset formulated a hypothesis in 1973 about what causes CVD, concluding that CVD occurs in response to localized injury to the lining of the artery wall, which has been brought about by a number of things including viruses. [9, 10] The injury, in turn causes inflammation/infection. The plaque that develops is a result of the body trying to heal itself. It has been very well established that pathogens play an integral role in cardiovascular disease.
What is interesting about the role of viruses that have been found to initiate cardiovascular disease is they can be inhibited by the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil. One could say that consuming coconut oil decreases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
And it's not just good for your heart...it's great for your liver, too.
Like Frost over at Freedom Twenty Five, I'm basically become a "paleolithic alcoholic." By eating nutrient dense foods and a lot of healthy saturated fats, I've found that my tolerance for alcohol has skyrocketed.
I HAVE to drink on an empty stomach to experience an alcoholic buzz. Which is precisely why I like to have a couple of high alcohol content, micro-brewed IPA's after a day of fasted exertion (aka my routine of blue collar work without a lunch break).
But increased tolerance is only one aspect of it. The other is this: I cannot remember the last time I had a hangover. Well, I can.....but that was a long time ago. I'm talking over 2 years. No lie. I can easily put down 9 drinks (typically 4-5 beers, 4 drams of whiskey or tequila) in an evening, and then wake up at the crack of dawn and immediately start doing something physically strenuous. No headache. No nausea or queasiness. Zero. As in I feel like I never even had a drink the night before.
I'm a veteran imbiber. I was a binge drinker throughout my entire youth. I've now settled into a routine of 3-4 drinks a night, 4-5 nights a week, with the sole purpose to attain a pleasant, moderate buzz. I never drink for the purpose of getting drunk anymore, but if I'm at a social event and I'm not bothering to keep track of how much I'm drinking, I find it scary at the amount I can drink now without getting absolutely trashed, and even more surprised at the lack of consequences I experience the following day.
Now, don't get me wrong. I've had more than my share of hangovers. I've had hangovers that lasted 3 days. I've said many a prayer at the altar of the porcelain god. But ever since "going paleo" going on 6 years now, I've noticed a great diminishing in the frequency and intensity of my hangovers. Part of that is also probably attributed to the fact that I only drink high quality alcohol - micro-brewed "living" beers, non-blended whiskey, 100% agave tequila's, etc., and I never imbibe sugary mixed drinks...but still, I've gotten hungover from the over consumption of even high quality alcoholic beverages.
But when I began cooking nearly every meal with coconut oil, it seems like I've developed a steel liver.
|Thanks to this product, I now cook with coconut oil at almost every single meal.|
With the disappearance of my hangovers, I began to suspect that the increase in coconut oil consumption was most likely the factor. So I googled and found some PubMed abstracts that confirmed my suspiscions.
Check out these excerpts from this PubMed abstract:
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of saturated fatty acid (SFA) and unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) diets on ethanol pharmacokinetics.
METHODS: Sprague-Dawley male rats were fed modified AIN76 diets containing 10% coconut oil (SFA) or corn oil (UFA) for 120 days. A single dose (3 g/kg bw) of ethanol (13% solution) was orally administered using a gastric canula on day 30, 90, 105 and 120. Tail vein blood samples were collected at various intervals following ethanol dose and were analyzed for blood-ethanol concentration (BEC).
RESULTS: Compared to the UFA group (corn oil fed), the SFA group (coconut oil fed) exhibited significantly higher BEC, larger area under the curve, longer half-life of ethanol, and lower rates of ethanol elimination.
CONCLUSION: Dietary SFA protects liver from alcohol injury by retarding ethanol metabolism, and carnitine may be involved.
So my increased coconut oil consumption appears to be my alcoholism enabler.
Check out this PubMed Abstract too:
CONCLUSION: A diet enriched in saturated but not unsaturated fatty acids reversed alcoholic liver injury.
Coconut oil is the ultimate cooking oil, heart and liver protector and also a great natural skin protector and restorer from potential sun damage to your skin. Do you need anymore reasons to eat more saturated fat?
Here's the summaries of 10 more reasons you should eat plenty of saturated fats from the article I found while googling about coconut oil protecting the liver:
1. They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that is said to indicate proneness to heart disease.
2. They protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins like Tylenol (acetaminophen).
3. They ideally constitute at least 50 percent of our cell membranes, which gives our cells integrity.
4. They play a vital role in the health of our bones.
5. They enhance the immune system.
6. They are needed for proper utilization of essential fatty acids, like omega-3.
7. Stearic acid and palmitic acid, both saturated fats, are the preferred energy source of the heart.
8. They help protect us from harmful microorganisms.
9. They will help you lose body fat.
10. They are the best fats to cook with, including repeat frying.
In summation, I'll add an 11th reason: they simply taste better than regular fats that are a part of the industrialized, Standard American Diet. Butter tastes better than margarine. Boiled bone broth tastes better than "low-fat/low-sodium canned broth," and frying in coconut oil tastes a hell of a lot better than the typical rancid crap of most restaurant food fried in soybean, corn, canola or any other "vegetable" oil.
Another aspect of understanding the benefits of healthy saturated fats is eating as best you can under a limited budget. I've seen many folks complain about the cost of eating pastured, grass fed meats as prohibitive and a reason why they just can't stick with the paleo/primal diet. Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good. If all you can afford is factory farmed meat, you can at least trim the fat and than cook it in some healthy fats to compensate for the nutritional inferiority of the feedlot meat! When my budget gets tight, that's exactly what I do...I buy the discount meat at the grocery store, trim the excess fat off it and then cook it in a combination of butter and coconut oil.
I buy grass fed meat and bones as much as possible. It's just not always possible. But when it comes to food choices at restaurants and eateries and cooking food for my family, the one thing I always pay most attention to is the kind of fats used in preparation. I may occasionally eat something not "paleo," following the 80/20 principle, but even then, when it comes to bad fats, it's more like 99/1 I avoid things like hydrogenated oils.
Once you accept the concept of how important saturated fats are to your diet and health (and how bad most of the unsaturated fats are), you also come to another important realization: yes, you CAN eat food that tastes great and is still good for you.