Saturated fat – finally the truth!

There are three main kinds of saturated fats:

  1. Short chain saturated fats (eg butter) – which is healthy, butter actually breaks down to butyric acid in the body and this is colon protective. (The soluble fibre in an apple also breaks down in to butyric acid, which is also why apples are colon protective).
  2. Medium chain saturated fats (eg coconut oil) – this is also healthy and a great source of immediate energy for the body.


  3. Long chain saturated fats ARE damaging to the body.

The main foods that cause heart disease are refined sugars including grains. These foods, especially if combined with a low fat diet will break down into long chain saturated fatty acids in the body, this is what will clog up your arteries and cause atherosclerosis.

In summary

  1. Butter is good (unsalted block butter), stay away from soft mixed butters and margarine.
  2. Coconut and coconut oil is good.
  3. Grains and other refined carbohydrate foods create long chain saturated fats, this is the kind that causes heart disease so these foods should be avoided!

For more information or personalised advice on a healthy diet contact Informed Health on (02) 47 222 111 or

Learn more about cholesterol

References and further reading:

Dreon DM, Fernstrom HA, et al. Low-density lipoprotein subclass patterns and lipoprotein response to a reduced fat diet in men. FASEB Journal, 1994. Available at URL:

Dreon DM, Fernstrom HA, et al. Change in dietary saturated fat intake is correlated with change in mass of large low-density-lipoprotein particles in men, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1998. Available at URL:

Eddey Stephen. Cardiovascular Disease: The best treatment options, 2011. Health Schools Australia, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.

Lawrence Glen D. Dietary Fats and Health: Dietary Recommendations in the Context of Scientific Evidence. American Society for Nutrition Adv. Nutr. 4: 294–302, 2013; doi:10.3945/an.113.003657. Available at URL:

Mensink RP, Katan MB. Effect of dietary fatty acids on serum lipids ad lipoproteins. A meta analysis of 27 trials. Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis, 1992. Available at URL:

Mensink RP, Zock PL, et al. Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003. Available at URL:

Mente, de Koning et al. A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and coronary heart disease.  Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009. Available at URL:

Ravnskov U. The questionable role of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1998. Available at URL:

Sanders Thomas AB, Lewis Fiona J, et al. SFAs do not impair endothelial function and arterial stiffness. The American Journal of Nutrition, September 2013. Available at URL:
Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.  Available at URL:
Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q et al. Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010. Available at URL:

Other references and studies are available here:

Big Fat Lies (a brief video history of the failed fat/lipid hypothesis approx. 2 ½ minutes):