This article is based on a series of slides and notes from our PowerPoint that serves as the basis of our educational materials. We are deeply concerned about the fact that saturated fats have been demonized for over 50 years as one of the biggest nutritional villains. What is saturated fat? A fatty acid is saturated when all available carbon bonds are occupied by a hydrogen atom. They are highly stable, because all the carbon-atom linkages are filled—or saturated—with hydrogen. This means that they do not normally go rancid, even when heated for cooking purposes. They are straight in form and hence pack together easily, so that they form a solid or semisolid fat at room temperature. Your body makes saturated fatty acids from carbohydrates and they are found in animal fats and tropical oils.

What do these symbolic images mean to you?

These photographs were captured by Peter Lippmann for print ads used by the World Heart Federation that were released in 2008. The Advertising Agency is listed as BBH, London, UK. Mohammad Naser assisted me in editing the ads in Photoshop to reveal only the photographic content, so you could form an opinion without the corresponding ad copy and logo information. I wanted you to simply relate to the visual communication. A search on Google at the time these ads were launched revealed that they have been widely published on websites in many languages. Some might  describe these photographs as beautiful, well-made, appealing, slick and perhaps even convincing.

Notice the razor blades next to the butter, which are somewhat camouflaged. Is eating butter, even regularly, akin to eating razor blades? The ad copy reads, “Open your eyes to saturated fat.” Imagine if you swallowed a razor blade? The message appears to be clear – eating butter is dangerous, and may even kill you. Does butter cause disease? On the contrary, butter from grass-fed cows protects us against many diseases. Read our article, In defense of butter.

Imagine taking a piece of cheese from this table! The diet of the healthy Swiss villagers that Dr. Weston A. Price observed in Lötschental consisted primarily of dairy products including raw milk, butter, cream and raw milk cheese from cows grazing on lush alpine slopes, and rye bread, from rye grown in the valley.

We would encourage you and yours to enjoy raw milk cheeses from cows, goats and sheep as a nutrient dense food.

With the exception of butter, no other food has been subjected to such intense demonization in recent years as red meat, particularly beef. Will eating steak, even regularly, be akin to putting your hand or body in a steel trap?

Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig answer the question “Is beef good for you?” in their article It’s the Beef:

What a shame we have demonized red meat because this is one modern food, enjoyed by almost everybody, that is rich in nutrients. Red meat provides complete protein, including sulphur-containing proteins like cysteine. Beef is a wonderful source of taurineand carnitine, needed for healthy eyes and a healthy heart. Beef also provides another key nutrient for the cardiovascular system—coenzyme Q10. Beef is an excellent source of minerals like magnesium and zinc—you need zinc for clear thinking and a healthy sex life. The fuzzy-headedness that vegetarians mistake for heightened consciousness is really the fog of zinc deficiency. Vitamin B6 is abundant in meat, especially rare meat. Red meat is one of the best sources of vitamin B12, which is vital to a healthy nervous system and healthy blood. Vegetarians are especially prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.  One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is a tendency to irrational anger-—so much for vegetarian claims that we will have a more peaceful, harmonious world if we all just stop eating meat.

This is the last of the edited photographs used in this ad series of 4 that were created. In this case, we are actually more in agreement. The typical ingredients in a croissant are unbleached all-purpose flour, cold water, cold whole milk, granulated sugar, soft unsalted butter and an egg for an egg wash. While we would certainly not equate eating croissants to being as dangerous as picking up food from a plate with poisonous snakes, croissants aren’t a nutrient dense food.

While these ads were published in 2008, the recommendations from the World Heart Federation remains the same:

Eat healthily

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a variety of whole grain products, lean meat, fish, peas, beans, lentils, and foods low in saturated fats. Be wary of processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt. Try to avoid drinking alcohol or if you do drink, make sure it is in moderation. Drink lots of water!

We would actually recommend that a healthy diet include foods high in saturated fat. The Weston A. Price Foundation offers us a summation of the benefits in their article The Skinny on Fats:

The Benefits of Saturated Fats

  • Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50% of the cell membranes. They are what gives our cells necessary stiffness and integrity.
  • They play a vital role in the health of our bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of the dietary fats should be saturated.
  • They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease. They protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol.
  • They enhance the immune system.
  • They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids.
    Elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats
  • Saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for the heart, which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated. The heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress.
  • Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.

As Chris Masterjohn, PhD, explains in his article Saturated Fat Does a Body Good:

Saturated fats play essential structural roles in the body, and specific saturated fatty acids have specific benefits to energy metabolism, immunity, intestinal health and metabolic health. There is insufficient evidence to claim that we require some specific amount of saturated fat in our diets every day, so it makes little sense to make dietary decisions based on the fear that we are not getting enough saturated fat. Conversely, because saturated fats play so many beneficial roles, and because our bodies will contain large amounts of saturated fat whether we embrace it in our diets or choose to avoid it, it makes little sense to make dietary decisions based on the fear that we are eating too much saturated fat. Instead, we should dispense with these fears altogether and look toward the menu of traditional fats, seeing a wide array of tools before us to meet our individual needs and priorities. Toward the top of that list for each of us should be preparing wholesome meals that we truly enjoy.