Did You Know Saturated Fat is GOOD For You?

Butter, bacon, steak…. all of these foods can be good for you? Say whaaat?

saturated fat is good for you

            

It’s true! These foods have been demonized in the past due to their high content of saturated fat. However, our bodies actually need a balance of BOTH saturated and unsaturated fats for optimal health. Read on to learn why saturated fat has received such as bad rep in the health industry, and how this has led to an epidemic of misdiagnosed health issues, over-prescribing of medications, and inappropriate diet recommendations. Plus, I’m also going to explain why saturated fat is good for you and the right way to incorporate saturated fat into your diet. 

What is saturated fat?

A saturated fat is a type of fat in which the fatty acid chains have all single bonds (the carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms, hence the name). Saturated fats tend to have higher melting points than unsaturated fats, which is why saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats are liquid.

Saturated fat is also the most stable of all fats, which makes it great for cooking. Cooking with high heat with oils that contain fragile fats like omega-3s, omega-6s, and monounsaturated fats can be inflammatory because these fats break down when you expose them to heat. Saturated fats maintain their integrity, even when you heat them to roughly 400 degrees F. 

What does saturated fat do for your body?

Moderate amounts of high-quality, organic saturated fats from grass-fed/grass-finished meats, butter, and ghee, or plant-based sources such as coconut oil, avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, can offer big benefits to the body. Below are the top five benefits of saturated fat. 

1. Brain health

Saturated fats are essential to keeping your cell membranes strong. In fact, saturated fat makes up nearly 50% of all cell membranes in your body, and the majority of fats in your brain are saturated. Eating a diet that is low in saturated fat deprives your brain of the building blocks it needs to grow, regenerate, and stay healthy.

2. Nervous System health

Saturated fats are necessary to maintain a healthy nervous system, the network of nerve cells and fibers which transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body. A blog post on The Model Health Show uses this analogy: “Think of saturated fat as the “insulation” coating for your nervous system (aka your internal wiring). When you lack this insulation you become more susceptible to external and internal stress. Certain saturated fats even function as signaling messengers themselves.” Thus, a diet with little or not saturated fat can cause poor communication between the cells of your body, and resulting in pretty big problems. 

3. Cardiovascular health

Saturated fats improve the quality of your LDL, reduce levels of lipoprotein(a), and certain saturated fats (i.e. lauric acid and stearic acid) can help regulate cholesterol  levels. But wait - doesn’t saturated fat cause heart disease? The next section below is all about why this is simply NOT TRUE!

4. Bone health

Saturated fat is necessary for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone. Without fat, your bones will be weak. And with poor bone density comes increased risk of degeneration and injury.

5. Immune health

When white blood cells don’t have sufficient saturated fats, their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, and fungi is impaired.

Doesn’t saturated fat cause heart disease?

Beginning in the 1960s, saturated fat was demonized for two main reasons: the work of scientist Ancel Keys and the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF). Ancel Keys had done some preliminary research about a possible link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. Being charismatic and politically savvy, Keys confidently presented this preliminary research while publicly mocking any hypothesis that contradicted his own. His research was also very flawed, for example, he combined poorly designed studies with misguided statistical analysis and heralded his findings as the absolute truth. Other researchers pointed out these flaws almost immediately, but they didn’t get enough attention to stop the misinformation from being spread. 

The Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) is a major lobbyist group for the sugar industry that was also researching heart disease during the 1950s and 1960s. The SRF wanted to "refute" concerns about sugar's possible role in heart disease, so they sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that. The result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding. The research downplayed the role of sugar in heart disease and promoted saturated fat as its cause instead.

You may be wondering about other studies that have found a link between saturated fat and heart disease. Well, it’s worth noting where most Americans that are included in these studies get their saturated fat (i.e. pizza, ice cream, grain-based desserts like cookies and cake, processed meat, etc.) So, in studies that have found a link between saturated fat and heart disease, is it the saturated fat itself? Or is it the fact that the saturated fat is coming from processed junk food, like pizza, ice cream, cookies, cake, and candy?            

According to an article on the Bulletproof blog, in the last ten years, 4 large-scale independent review articles (one including data from more than half a million participants) found no link between saturated fat and heart disease.

While studies show that saturated fat raises LDL (your so-called “bad” cholesterol), it improves the QUALITY of the LDL, causing a beneficial shift in the types of LDL-particles, from small, dense LDL particles (the kind that are correlated with heart disease in some studies) to higher numbers of larger LDL particles (which are not harmful and can be useful metabolically). Saturated fat also raises HDL (“good” cholesterol). 

Why you need just the right amount of cholesterol

As I just mentioned above, saturated fat WILL raise your total cholesterol. This is a good thing because it improves the quality of LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. 

In conventional medicine, when someone has high cholesterol, they are often immediately prescribed a statin (a type of medication used to lower cholesterol, such as Lipitor and Crestor) and are told to avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. But is high cholesterol really the problem? According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, the author of The Cholesterol Myth, only half of the patients hospitalized for heart disease actually have high cholesterol. In fact, more current research doesn’t even support the idea that high levels of cholesterol contribute to heart disease. 

The real culprit… damaged arteries and chronic inflammation. 

You see, one of the most important roles of cholesterol in the body is to heal and repair. It has to be present in order for new cells to be made. And inflammation is a reaction to injury or infection in the body meant to also heal and repair. In a generally healthy body, when there is an injury, inflammation is triggered, which then communicates to the liver to release more cholesterol into the blood to help repair the injury site. The cholesterol works to cover the site and form a scar or “plaque” as a way to repair the injury. 

Now here is where the confusion comes in… when the body is under constant attack and in a state of chronic inflammation (due to toxins, excessive sugar intake, etc.) cholesterol is always busy forming these “scars” trying to repair the injuries leading to elevated cholesterol levels in the blood and an accumulation of plaque. So say a patient suffers a heart attack, in conventional medicine, when a physician sees high levels of cholesterol circulating in their bloodstream afterwards, they conclude that it — not the underlying damage to the arteries — is the cause of heart attack. When in fact, its intention was to HELP repair the damage to the arteries.

This kind of conclusion often results in physicians prescribing statins and other unnecessary medication, along with a diet with little to no saturated fat or cholesterol. The problem with that is, they are not addressing the issue of inflammation and now there will be less healthy fat and cholesterol to help repair. In addition, lowering cholesterol levels too much can lead to disruption in healing, Vitamin D production, the making of important hormones, and a number of other factors. 

The final verdict: saturated fat is GOOD for you!

Overall, eating a balanced diet that includes both saturated AND unsaturated fats from high quality sources is key for optimal health. Saturated fat is necessary for your brain, nervous system, immune system, bones, and even your cardiovascular system. Saturated fat improves the quality of your LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. Below are some of the best sources of saturated fat from both animal and plant sources:

Animal sources of saturated fat

  • Grass fed/grass-finished meats

  • Grass fed butter or ghee

Plant sources of saturated fat

  • Coconut oil

  • Cocoa butter

  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Macadamia nuts

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturated_fat

https://blog.bulletproof.com/is-saturated-fat-bad/

https://blog.bulletproof.com/high-cholesterol/

Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ldl-cholesterol-size-does_b_8372366

https://drhyman.com/blog/2016/04/06/is-coconut-oil-bad-for-your-cholesterol/

https://themodelhealthshow.com/benefits-of-saturated-fat/

Should You Stop Wearing Sunscreen? 6 Health Benefits of Sunlight

Should You Stop Wearing Sunscreen? 6 Health Benefits of Sunlight



After years of working in the skin care industry, one common piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again is that you MUST wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine, to prevent both skin cancer and premature skin aging.

Unfortunately, this advice has led many people to be afraid of going out into the sun without sunscreen. These are both possible outcomes if you spend too much time in the sun. However, a growing body of scientific research suggests that completely avoiding sunlight isn't such a good idea. Sunlight is important for so many biological processes, such as vitamin D production and supporting your circadian rhythm.

In this post, I’m going to explain the benefits of safe sun exposure, as well as discuss whether or not you should stop using sunscreen.


Should You Stop Wearing Sunscreen? 6 Health Benefits of Sunlight

Have we been deceived by the sunscreen industry?

Like many other industries, the sunscreen industry has one primary focus: MONEY. Sunscreen was initially created to allow people to tan without getting burnt, not because we needed protection from the sun. However, when the sunscreen companies realized how profitable it was, they turned the sun into our enemy. We have been deceived by the sunscreen industry to believe the sun is bad for us for their commercial gain. [1]

According to Dr. Al Sears, MD, “any evidence that exposing yourself to the sun is harmful evaporates under scrutiny. It’s nothing more than conjecture and slivers of evidence blown out of proportion for commercial interests. What’s worse; if you follow this “no safe level of sun exposure” dogma, you’ll put yourself at greater risk of numerous deadly cancers, depression, bone loss, heart disease, diabetes and more.” [1]

Dr. Sears goes on to explain that “the sun is our best friend when it comes to feeling good, staying fit and avoiding disease (even skin cancer) because it is our primary source of vitamin D.” [1]

Now that you’ve had a glimpse of how important the sun is to our health, let’s discuss the specific benefits of sunlight.

6 Health Benefits of Sunlight

1. Vitamin D production

Did you know that sunscreen lowers your body’s ability to make vitamin D by up to 95 percent? [2]

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. Specifically, the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. [3] Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and is essential for bone growth and formation. [4] Vitamin D also improves the immune system, helps prevents cancer, and is important for brain function. [5]


2. Decreases risk of getting cancer

As mentioned above, one of the benefits of getting vitamin D from the sun is decreased risk of cancer. Check out these studies that have found how sun exposure and vitamin D are associated with lower chances of getting cancer:

  • A study published in the journal Anticancer Research says very clearly that the more you make vitamin D from UVB rays, the lower your chances are of dying from 15 kinds of cancer. [6]

  • A study published in the Lancet Journal states that the skin's exposure to ultraviolet radiation of short wavelength (UVB) has been associated with a decreased risk of melanoma. [4]

  • A study published in the European Journal of Cancer assessed a study cohort that consisted of 416,134 cases of skin cancer and 3,776,501 cases of non-skin cancer as a first cancer extracted from 13 cancer registries. The conclusion of this study states that Vitamin D production in the skin seems to decrease the risk of several solid cancers (especially stomach, colorectal, liver and gallbladder, pancreas, lung, female breast, prostate, bladder and kidney cancers). [7]

3. Maintain circadian rhythm

The human eye contains photosensitive cells in its retina that directly affect the brain’s hypothalamus region, which controls our biological clock. Stimulation of these important cells comes from sunlight, in particular, the blue unseen spectrum. [5] Going out in the sun first thing in the morning is important because your body will increase production of serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, memory, and sleep. It is also the precursor to melatonin, which helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Bright light in the morning (i.e. sunlight) also increases production of cortisol like it does with serotonin, which further helps us to wake up. [8]

4. Boosts your mood

Moderate sunlight exposure helps improve your mood and focus by boosting the levels of the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Higher levels of serotonin correlate with better mood and feelings of satisfaction and calmness, and lower levels link to depression and anxiety. [9] Dopamine influences vital brain functions that affect mood, sleep, memory, learning, concentration, and motor control. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing. [10] There’s also evidence that UV light can push melanocytes (the cells that produce dark pigment in skin) to release endorphins, a feel-good chemical. [9]


According to an article published by Time, the correlation between sunlight and mood emerged with a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The term was coined by Dr. Normal Rosenthal at Georgetown University to describe the “winter blues” aka the lethargy and feelings of sadness and hopelessness that come when the weather forces people to spend more time indoors and the season provides little opportunity for exposure to natural light. It is even speculated that our modern lifestyle, which keeps people indoors under artificial light for so many hours, may be encouraging a form of SAD year-round. [9]

5. Promotes weight loss

Another interesting benefit of safe sun exposure is its ability to reduce body fat. In a University of Alberta study, researchers found that subcutaneous fat cells (white fat cells found right beneath your skin) shrink under sun’s blue light. Peter Light, senior author of the study, explains, “When the sun’s blue light wavelengths—the light we can see with our eye—penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.” [11]


6. Boosts immunity

As mentioned above, sunlight stimulates vitamin D production, and vitamin D plays a role in immune function. Research also indicates that low levels of blue light, found in sun rays, makes T cells move faster. [12] A T cell is a type of lymphocyte which develops in the thymus that plays a central role in the immune response. A study published in Scientific Reports shows that sunlight directly activates key immune cells by increasing their movement. [12]

Negative consequence of sunscreen

Of course, one of the main negative consequences of using sunscreen is that you’ll deprive your body of all the benefits described above that sunshine naturally provides!

But did you know that certain sunscreen ingredients come with many undesirable health effects? I am talking about sunscreen ingredients that are classified as “chemical sunscreens”, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and ecamsule. These ingredients are absorbed into the skin and work by first absorbing UV light, then transforming that light energy into some other form of energy, such as heat.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms these active sunscreen ingredients seep into your bloodstream after just one day of use. [13] In addition, most sunscreens contain fragrances and stabilizers that mimic hormones, irritate your skin, and mess with your system in other ways.14 Here are some facts on specific chemical sunscreen ingredients:


  • Oxybenzone: linked to hormone disruption and cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. [15]

  • Octyl-methoxycinnamate: causes oxidation damage of the skin, which ages your face. [15]

  • Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane: releases free radicals into the body. [15]

  • Benzophenone 2 (BP2): decreases the function of the thyroid. [15]

So should you stop using sunscreen?

While this blog post has outlined the very important benefits of getting safe sun exposure every day, it should be noted that excessive sun exposure is still deleterious to your health. UVA radiation penetrates deeply into the skin, where it can contribute to skin cancer indirectly via generation of DNA-damaging molecules such as hydroxyl and oxygen radicals. Too much UVB radiation causes sunburn and also leads to direct DNA damage and promotes various skin cancers. Both forms of UV radiation can damage collagen fibers, destroy vitamin A in skin, accelerate aging of the skin, and increase the risk of skin cancers.16

So what exactly is ‘safe sun exposure’? Well, there’s no clear cut answer since everyone is different! One recommendation is to spend 10 to 30 minutes in direct sunlight every day (in the morning if possible). If you start to burn, you’ve gone too long. Scale it back by a couple minutes next time.


If you’re going to be in the sun longer than this amount of time, use a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. I personally recommend a mineral sunscreens since they are much safer than the synthetic chemical sunscreen ingredients mentioned above. Mineral sunscreen ingredients (i.e. zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) work by blocking or deflecting UV light, rather than being absorbed by the skin.  Here are some of my favorite mineral sunscreen products:



Paula’s Choice ESSENTIAL GLOW MOISTURIZER SPF 30 (Amazon, $29)

Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturizing SPF 30 is a fragrance-free, illuminating face moisturizer that shields skin with all-mineral sun protection (Titanium Dioxide 5.25% and Zinc Oxide 6.12%) plus antioxidants to help protect against the effects of environmental damage.  I love this moisturizer because it not only provides sun protection, but also provides skin-soothing and replenishing ingredients, such as licorice root extract, argan kernel oil, linoleic acid, niacinamide (vitamin B3), bisabolol, phospholipids, lecithin, and more.

Coola Mineral Body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (Amazon, $36)

Coola Mineral Body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 is a fragrance-free, hydrating body sunscreen that utilizes “genre-defying technology” to help disperse non-nano minerals (Zinc Oxide 14.0%) evenly, for a sheer application with a lightweight and eminently wearable finish. This sunscreen also provides several skin-soothing and replenishing ingredients, such as algae extract, bisabolol, shea butter, meadowfoam seed oil, avocado oil, raspberry seed oil, and more.





Antioxidant Smoothie

Have you read my post about the AMAZING benefits of antioxidants?!

If you're up for learning something new that can help you have bright and glowing skin, fight off diseases, and even prevent cancer, I highly suggest reading it!

But if you're just here for the smoothie recipe, keep on scrolling! :)

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. 

So what makes this an antioxidant smoothie?

Blueberries: The main source of antioxidants in this smoothie, blueberries are actually one of the top 10 antioxidant rich foods you can eat!

Pomegranate: Not as high in antioxidants as blueberries, but still a great source to combat free radicals that are causing wrinkles and signs of aging!

Black Chia Seeds: These tiny seeds actually possess more antioxidant activity than blueberries! Not sure if you like chia seeds? Try mixing them into the smoothie as opposed to using them as a topping. You won't even be able to taste them!

Mango: This fruit falls low on the antioxidant scale, but I included it because it is one of my favorite fruits! It also gives the smoothie natural sweetness. If you aren't a mango fanatic like I am, try substituting it with a banana or peach!

 

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1/2 cup pomegranate

1/2 cup milk (I use coconut milk because it is dairy free, low in calories, and makes my smoothie taste like a tropical drink!)

1/4 cup chia seeds (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

 

Wash your fresh fruit with an all natural fruit and veggie wash. I use Green Melody All Mineral Fruit & Veggie Wash. 

Next, measure out your ingredients and add them all into your blender. If you want to use chia seeds, they can either be added in and blended or used as a topping. 

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Add fresh fruit or seeds as toppings.

Enjoy!