Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Effects of a High-Fat Diet on Health and Weight : Saturated, Monounsaturated or Polyunsaturated?

Game meat is low in saturated fat. (Photo by Pperinik)

It's been over a week now and still no sign of the results from the blood test. Got to love the effectiveness of the public health service.

During excruciating hours of waiting, I've been reading more about saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. I was under the impression that the paleolithic diet consisted of quite a lot of saturated fat, but it seems that I was wrong - they did eat a considerable amount of animal fats, but since it was game meat, it contained little saturated fat. I knew that organs were prized over lean meat for their high energy content, but what was news to me was the fact that they too had a low saturated fat content.

This, of course, casts some doubt over my hypothesis. If the natural diet of the human race was low in saturated fat, doesn't it make sense that a diet high in saturated fat is unnatural and therefore harmful? Maybe. On the other hand, something that is unnatural is not necessarily harmful. Also, there have been studies on populations that eat a diet high in saturated fat and protein that have not been able to show any correlation between saturated fat intake and diseases such as atherosclerosis. And then there are studies that show how people with a high intake of polyunsaturated fats - the ones touted as being the greatest thing since sliced bread - end up having the very diseases they were trying to avoid.

In my mind, the question is much more complex than simply saying that eating butter will clog your arteries. For example, it could make a difference if you eat your saturated fat with complex carbohydrates instead of protein. I'm hoping the results from the blood test will provide at least some answers. If I ever get them.

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