Gina recently commented on our site, “Isn’t ghee really bad for you? Isn’t it almost all saturated fat?”
The link between saturated fats, cholesterol and heart disease is practically written in stone. So mush so that there is a restaurant called the Heart Attack Grill in Arizona where scantily-clad nurses serve Triple Bypass Burgers. I’m not kidding.
The Big Fat Lies video above may seem simplistic but there is truth there. I mean it. it is high time that we took a closer look at the highly questionable linear thinking that has helped create a billion dollar business selling lipitor. I don’t want to hear that you have gone all Paleo on me (eating only berries, chives and fresh squirrel meat). It is the refined grains, not the whole ones that cause problems. Nor am I advocating filling up on Bacon Cheeseburgers (the concern is real about eating too many calories!). But let me know if you might reconsider believing in the cholesterol myth that prevails.
In the meantime, don’t shy away from a little ghee in your rice or coconut milk in your curry.
I’ve gotten a couple of comments lately expressing some skepticism about whether it’s okay to eat butter or not. In the nutrition department at Bastyr University, where I teach, we believe that the best fats come from traditional source. In other words, we’re less impressed with the large selection of refined polyunsaturated oils that are so widely used and more impressed with the fats that have come from natural whole foods sources: like butter, ghee and (dare I say it) lard. Yes these products contain saturated fats. And I’m proud to stand up and say I eat them. There.
Did you know saturated fats and cholesterol make the membranes of the cells firm? Without them the cells would become flabby and fluid. If we humans didn’t have cholesterol and saturated fats in the membranes of our cells, we would look like giant worms or slugs. And we are not talking about a few molecules of cholesterol here and there. In many cells, almost half of the cell membrane is made from cholesterol. Foods with cholesterol in them have been a natural part of the human diet for …well forever. Recent studies are actually linking cardiovascular disease more strongly with refined grains, lack of exercise and stress. Not to eating too much butter.
Butter is 66% saturated fat and 30% monounsaturated fats. It is stable, has fewer rancidity problems and maintains its integrity when cooked. Butter contains lauric acid, lecithin and vitamins A & D. If the butter comes from cows allowed access to pasture, the possible presence of omega 3 fatty acids increases. This is great stuff. Plus the temperature at which butter sizzles but doesn’t brown happens to be perfect for cooking eggs. Let’s hear it for auditory cooking signals! When you add fats to certain vegetables it increases the bioavailability of certain nutrients, particularly the fat-soluble vitamins. Nice. Sauté kale in butter and garlic. Live long and prosper.
Within reason (what does that mean? – like a couple of tablespoons a day) butter in the diet is preferable to seed oils and certainly preferable to imitation butters. If you’re still nervous check out THINCS (The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics) – a group of international physicians and scientists that don’t believe that eating foods that contain cholesterol is linked to heart disease. Who knows, maybe they’ll even find out the eating butter helps you make more brown fat (the nutrition buzz word in today’s news). Let’s make scones! Weigh in kids. Do you eat butter? Give me support.