Fats are macronutrients. This means they are nutrients that we consume in large amounts and give us energy. Of the 3 macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates and fats – fats have the least impact on blood glucose and therefore, on insulin production. Insulin is a fat storage hormone, so it’s best to keep it in check.
Many recent studies have been published that confirm saturated fat is not the evil nutrient it has been portrayed to be. These studies found that there really is no link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. This includes a review of 21 studies with a total of 347,747 participants, published in 2010. The conclusion: there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease.
Another review published in 2014 looked at data from 76 studies (both observational studies and controlled trials) with a total of 643,226 participants. They found no link between saturated fat and heart disease. This means that saturated fats can still be consumed in a healthy diet, in equal if not higher quantities than the other nutrients.
Coconut is a food that we consume fairly regularly over at Nourished Minds – either as coconut oil or coconut flakes. Around 50% of the saturated fat in coconut comes from Medium Chain Triglycerides (also known as MCT’s).
The benefits of MCTs as opposed to other types of saturated fats include the following:
• MCTs are more rapidly absorbed by the body and more quickly metabolized (burned) as fuel.
• MCTs are very efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use by organs and muscles.
• MCTs have anti-aging properties such as promoting the development of ketones which is good for the aging brain.
In a study involving a group of obese women on a restricted diet, researchers noted that insulin profiles improved when MCTs comprised 24 percent of total consumed calories. That is quite almost a quarter of total daily calories.
MCTs have also been shown to suppress appetite. Which is great for anyone attempting to lower their intake of total calories.
In one 14-day study, six healthy male volunteers were allowed unlimited access to one of three diets: a low MCT diet, a medium MCT diet, and a high MCT diet. Caloric consumption was significantly lower on the high MCT diet. The researchers noted that substituting MCTs for other fats in a high-fat diet “can limit the excess energy intakes and weight gain produced by high-fat, energy-dense diets.
The moral of the story is that you don’t need to be afraid of saturated fats. You should be more wary of manufactured and highly processed fats such as margarine, canola oil and vegetable oil.
Written by Elisha Danine
BHlthSci (Comp Med)