Saturated fat started to get a bad reputation about 100 years ago. However it was in the 1950’s when an association between saturated fat and cholesterol was published. The scientists at the time stated that a diet high in saturated fats, such as red meat, eggs, dairy products and coconut, raises blood cholesterol and clogs up arteries.
A consequence of this research resulted in a boom in low-fat diets and fat-free products. Pop down to your local supermarket and you will easily find low-fat alternatives to everything from chocolate and cream to crisps and Tikka Masala. But should we really be avoiding saturated fat?
Fatty acids play several key roles in the body including aiding the absorption of various vitamins and are essential for cell membranes. In addition, recent research shows that saturated fat is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease. In fact, saturated fat increased in the diet of Europeans, rates of death from heart disease fell. That’s not to say eating more saturated fat will dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease but it does make us think that saturated fat should not be demonized.
The next question is, what are we replacing saturated fat with, in our diet? The answer is often carbohydrates, and specifically refined, high processed carbohydrates. It may be a result of these dietary changes that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.