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The Truth About Saturated Fats
By Ivan Nikolov
copyright © 2008 Ivan Nikolov
We have all been lead to believe that saturated fats are
bad for us. They raise serum cholesterol levels and bad cholesterol (LDL).
IS THIS THE CASE IN REALITY?
If we have to give a straight answer "yes", it is. But leaving it at
this will actually not be very accurate.
A little background is in order. There are three types of fats:
monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated. All fats and oils contain all
the three types but in different proportions.
When the greatest percentage in certain fat comes from saturated fat, we call
it just that - saturated fat. This is the simple reason why fats in meat are
considered saturated, although they contain quite good quantities of
monounsaturated fat, too.
Saturated fats are those with the greatest number of hydrogen atoms, which is
the reason why they are called saturated. They are also solid at room
Saturated fats can further be broken down, depending on the number of carbon
atoms in the molecule. Letís examine the four that are most commonly presented
in the different types of animal fat: lauric acid, myristic acid, palmic acid
and stearic acid.
Lauric acid is found in motherís milk. In the body this acid is converted into
monolaurin - a monoglyceride with antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Lauric acid increases cholesterol levels but it does not affect triglyceride
This type of saturated fatty acid is also present in coconut oil, palm-kernel
oil and cocoa butter.
Myristic acid has the ability to significantly increase plasma and LDL
cholesterol levels. It can be found mainly in milk and dairy products.
Palmitic acid comes immediately after myristic acid for its abilities to
negatively affect cholesterol levels. Moreover, this saturated fat exhibits a
cholesterol independent mechanism for increasing the risk of heart disease,
which is still not well researched by the science.
Palmitic acid is the predominant saturated fat in meet. It accounts for about a
half of all the saturates in beef.
Stearic acid is the saturated acid with the largest number of carbon atoms of
all the four. Scientists have long known that stearic acid does not affect
cholesterol levels in the body. Some recent studies even suggest that it can
Stearic acid is contained mainly in meat (beef, pork,
lamb, dark chocolate). More than a third of all saturated fats in beef is
And that's not all about saturated fats...
Recent studies suggest that although lauric, myristic and
palmitic acids are proven to increase the bad cholesterol (LDL), they also
increase the levels of the good cholesterol (HDL).
Scientists now know that the ratio of LDL to HDL is the
most important factor in predicting the incidence of coronary hart disease
(CHD). In other words higher LDL and HDL levels are not as threatening as
higher LDL and lower HDL levels.
Another factor that increases the risk of CHD is high
triglycerides levels in combination with high total cholesterol. Far greater contributors
for high triglycerides levels are the consumption of trans-fatty acids
(hydrogenated fats) and abnormal levels of carbohydrates in the diet.
In conclusion, despite all that was said above, it is not
wise to assume that beef, pork and lamb are safe foods to eat. Until more
research is done to prove the validity of such an assumption, we are safer to
continue to pay special attention on the amounts of saturated fats from animal
origin in our diet.
ABOUT THE AUTOR
Ivan Nikolov, an accomplished natural bodybuilder shares a
wealth of information on Natural
Bodybuilding and Sports
Nutrition on his website www.IvanNikolov.com.
Start using his comprehensive Free Nutrition
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