butter on dish, saturated fats, nutrition

If you have been paying attention, you are no doubt aware that saturated fats like butter or coconut oil are a dietary no-no. The theory is that these fats, which are solid at room temperature, can clog the arteries just as they might clog the inside of a water line. Although this idea seems intuitive, research does not support it.

What is the Consequence of Consuming Saturated Fats?

Q. I have been reading articles on saturated fats versus unsaturated fats. Guess what? I quit using vegetable and canola oil and started using butter, lard and coconut oil in my cooking.

After about six months of this, my blood work showed total cholesterol at 150. My LDL and HDL cholesterol were in good order and my triglycerides were better than they’ve ever been at 130.

I’ve had high triglycerides since I was a small child (due to thyroid disorder). I’ve never had numbers so good.

My HbA1c was also better at 6.2! Other than olive oil, I doubt I’ll be using unsaturated vegetable oils again.

The Paradox of Saturated Fats:

A. You probably realize that you are challenging 50 years of conventional medical advice to avoid saturated fat. You aren’t the only one who has started questioning traditional dietary recommendations, however.

Three prominent cardiologists authored an article titled “Saturated fat does not clog the arteries” (Malhotra et al, British Journal of Sports Medicine, online, April 25, 2017). They state,

“Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong.”

Instead, these heart doctors point to inflammation and insulin resistance as the bad actors in heart disease. Their recommendation: coronary artery disease can be reduced by “walking [at least] 22 minutes a day and eating real food.”

They are not the only heart experts to point out that a ban on saturated fats is too simplistic (DiNicolantionio et al, Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, March-April 2016). Replacing saturated fat calories with energy from sugar could increase the risk of heart disease instead of reducing it.

Better HbA1c:

Your improved HbA1c, a measure of blood sugar over several weeks, may also indicate reduced insulin resistance. Resistance to insulin is a hallmark of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. A meta-analysis suggests that including olive oil in your diet, as you plan to do, could help you keep your HbA1c under control (Schwingshackl et al, Nutrition & Diabetes, April 10, 2017).

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  1. Willy

    Had no intake of animal fats Just used olive oil which was supposed to be healthier. Instead my body stopped making the fat digestion enzyme lipase because the balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in olive oil is so uneven that the body doesn’t think it’s getting fat and therefore doesn’t need to make lipase. I was losing considerable weight; always had a greasy taste in my mouth. I wasn’t absorbing fats which is a necessity for life. Have changed to a diet using animal fat, mostly butter, a little cheese, and a little turkey fat and slowly, slowly I see changes.

  2. Gaz

    Coconut oil starts solidify at temperatures below 26 degees C.
    Normal body temperature is just above 37 degrees C. In addition coconut oil changes form in the the stomach and is eliminated from the body because it is a medium chain fat. So the idea that arteries can clog from the body is completely falacy. In fact it is said that coconut oil has many properties of human blood and I haven’t heard of anyone dying by having blood in their veins or arteries.

  3. imfaithy2
    new mexico

    I grew up near Corn Products and know that the petroleum based products used along with very high heat, the bleaching and deodorizing of the corn oil to hide it’s rancidity are just one example of the horrendous poisoning of the ignorant public with vegetable oils. The renaming of rapeseed oil (a volatile mustard family oil fed to pigs) to make it seem harmless and even the sneaky adulteration of most olive oil with these same oils to make a buck are reason enough to change to the oils that are so naturally available from coconut as well as grass fed organic butter and lard. Just realize that the statin drugs will then need to be withdrawn when you switch. Yeah!!!!

  4. Michael

    I have for years believed that since the body actually makes the heart clogging cholesterol that the issue has to do with cholesterol availability in the diet. If you have high amounts in your food on a regular basis then you body adjusts to keep it’s normal healthy level. If you starve your body by low cholesterol dieting then it decides it needs to store some for a rainy day. Much like fat intake and energy. Many small meals are better then one big one because the energy intake is equal to the usage of stored energy so there is no need to store more (fat) for emergencies. I suspect the same with cholesterol production.

    All things in moderation is the wisest advice for food planning.

  5. Diana

    My Dr says I have a lot of inflammation. I need to know what rto do to calm the inflammation, pls! Thank you.

  6. Marcia
    Cape Cod

    Don’t know why anyone ever thought it was “intuitive” that – because those fats were solid at room temperature – they’d clog arteries; body temp and room temp are very different, and coconut oil is a liquid at 74 degrees so I always assumed it wasn’t a solid inside my body. I’ve used butter, coconut oil, and lard all my life in spite of the “best” advice (which seems to have had the wrong end of the stick these last 40 or so years). Been around too long now and seen too many reversals of – if not fortune, at least what’s good for you – to figure anyone in the medical profession really knows what they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition.

  7. Beverly

    I have been allergic to fish since childhood and in the last few years, use gourmet French sea salt or Celtic salt, which does not contain iodine. I would appreciate suggestions as to how much iodine I need in my diet and how the find that in natural products. Maybe iodized salt, but I am limiting salt because of blood pressure issues. My thyroid is normal. Thanks, Beverly

    • Beverly

      I meant finding iodine in foods, not supplements

  8. Laurie
    Pgh pa,

    My husband and I who had relatively higher cholesterol decided to go on the low-carb diet. I have never been a sweet eater and do not use sugar. For the past year we consumed mates saturated fat cheese eggs and lots of it and very little carbs actually under 100 carbs a day. My husband and I both lost 35 pounds unfortunately when we had our blood work done or bad cholesterol was through the roof mine went from 135 to 180 and his went from 170 to 200.

    My good cholesterol was good and my Carly glycerides were decent. Because this was very concerning I started using red rice yeast and I’m now on the Mediterranean diet. I have not gained any weight back but I am hoping that with less saturated fats my blood work will look better.

    Yes, I did use lots of butter also. It is very hard to figure out with all this mixed information what a person is supposed to do One thing I do know now is all of that saturated fat definitely increased our bad cholesterol. I am also very active I work a full-time physical job and visit the gym four times a week. Any advice you could give me would greatly be appreciated.

  9. Ann

    I’m thinking instead of using canola you could try grape seed oil. Read up about it and I think you might know why I say that, besides the fact that it had a neutral taste and a high flash point. I use only two oils myself, and the other one is extra virgin olive oil

  10. Angela
    House Springs, MO

    This is a VERY interesting article! I have always suspected butter and other “bad” oils aren’t really bad for you as has been purported. As with everything, moderation is the key.

  11. Laura

    About 40 or so years ago, I noticed the difference between a stick of margarine and a stick of butter, on a hot day. The butter was in a melted pool, but the margarine, although softer, was standing up straight and tall as always. This was a turning point for me ~ realizing that my internal temperature was even warmer than my kitchen (usually). Which meant that butter in my arteries continued to be liquid, but the margarine I had doubts about.

  12. Tony

    More Malholtra hogwash and spin, if people want to really understand this topic, they should invest their time and watch Plant Positive on you-tube.

  13. Mary
    Culver City

    You do one thing to prevent something, and it is refuted in another study. My easy diet strategy is to avoid white/beige foods. Most of them aren’t good for you…

  14. carol

    It appears that Dr. Atkins is being vindicated, one dietary rule at a time.

  15. Bob

    I love cheese, but I learned a long time ago, you shouldn’t eat it every day, but maybe once or twice a week, and your cholesterol should stay stable. This was a doctor’s advice

  16. michael

    Is the Peoples Pharmacy advocating this approach to heart disease?

    • Terry Graedon

      What we advocate is a DASH diet or a Mediterranean diet. DASH, as originally conceived, is lower in fat, while the Mediterranean diet is relatively high in fat, though not so much sat fat. Even more important (and probably more obvious) to prevent heart disease: no smoking, plenty of exercise!

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