How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Think Fatty, Not Faddy Part II, OR, How To Be Nutritionally Deviant
I still have the jar sitting in my cupboard. It hasn’t moved since I bought it, and it still hasn’t been opened. I’m a little intimidated. It’s a little exotic and I’m not sure what I would do with it, or how it’s going to taste anyway. Red palm oil,, it’s called; a cooking oil with a dark red tint?, I picked it up at the health food store only because I’d read a bit about the nutritive benefits (the only oil known to contains vitamins! A & E, among others) and also because I like trying new foods. Not to mention, it seems a little deviant; you know, laughing in the face of conventional nutrition and buying something so naughty and risqué saturated fat!
Prevailing dietetic rhetoric in this country go something like this: fat is bad. All fat is bad. Anything that contains any kind of fat is bad, but especially, saturated fats which must be avoided at all costs unless you want high cholesterol, a heart attack and an early grave., But many health professionals advocate for the consumption of saturated fat as a positive addition to a healthy diet. Let’s take a look at why.
If we quickly scan the first “Think Fatty, Not Faddy” we’ll see that since around the late 1970s or early 1980s, consumers/eaters have traded natural and good fats for highly-processed carbohydrate- and grain-filled foods a la the low-fat/heart-healthy diet revolution. Our ratio of fat to carbohydrates has shifted and diabetes is an epidemic. Grains skyrocket blood sugar and are high on the glycemic index, whereas fats stabilize blood sugar and provide a feeling of satiety. Blood sugar spikes are implicated in everything from insulin resistance to obesity. Also, dietary fats are required for us to synthesize certain vitamins and for the body to perform certain functions; grains are not a necessary addition to an eating plan (remember “Don’t Be Grainwashed“.
Coconut oil* and palm oil are fruit-derived and naturally occurring saturated fats. Palmitic and lauric acid, found in both oils, are two kinds of saturated fats that are known to increase cholesterol. Yes, increase. While this may seem like a drawback and outright proof that saturated fats are bad for us (because, after all no one wants high cholesterol), it actually isn’t: palmitic and lauric acid raise both LDL and HDL cholesterol together and in proportion to each other, which means good things for your cholesterol. Also, interestingly, saturated fats are found in the breast milk of mammals. This means, we’re being fed and sustained on saturated fats right from birth. If this is the case, could they really be so terrible for us later in life?
One study done on a nomadic tribe in Kenya and Tanzania, the Masai, revealed that though the people of the tribe ate diets high in saturated fats (namely from animal sources), they still had the lowest levels of heart disease and cholesterol recorded. They were lean and in shape. Perhaps this was due to their nomadic lifestyle, but it cannot be ignored that though their diet high in saturated fat should have potentially set them up for heart disease, it did not. Once these same peoples went on a “modern” diet, their incidences of disease and heart/cholesterol problems soared. And this is not an isolated study — it has been confirmed over and over via various researchers that the saturated fat-cholesterol link just isn’t so evident as many people and experts would like to believe. (For such studies, see the MSNBC article below.)
Still more research has shown that the correlation between fats and high cholesterol or heart disease isn’t due to consumption of saturated fats, but instead, consumption of trans-fatty acids. Trans-fats (you know, the ones that have been banned in certain cities) are found in processed and premade foods: margarine, vegetable oil, and vegetable shortenings. These are oils considered hydrogenated, which means they’ve been processed so that they’re solid at room temperature, and therefore extend shelf life of premade and fast foods. Not to mention, many hydrogenated oils/trans-fats are made from soy, and the genetically-modified kind at that, which is something you and I want to avoid due to its goitrogenic properties. Also, these sorts of fats are linked to inflammation (hello autoimmune disease) and lowered immune system function.
So the moral of the story is this: some fats are good, and some fats are not good. Some research and experts find saturated fat to be a good and essential part of a healthy diet. It is controversial; it is risquÃƒ©; and it if you buy into it like I do, it will make you nutritionally deviant (how sexy!). Saturated fat has never been definitively proven to be a culprit in heart disease and high cholesterol — it has been assumed and implicated and we’ve created entire diet systems around the notion. By examining those cultures who rely mainly on saturated fats, we see that they have drastically lowered rates of “associated” diseases and conditions — just the opposite of what we’re told should result. What this goes to show is that one isolated “component” of our modern diet is not the sole disease-promoting culprit. Instead, what’s important and indeed, what is the best wellness-promoter, is a wholly-healthy approach to life that includes from-the-ground eating. Eating natural foods, even if they are high in saturated fat (coconut oil, palm oil), is healthy. Fake, substitute, low-fat, saturated-fat-free, genetically-modified foods simply can’t compare, nutritionally, to those things that nature grows herself.
Adding saturated fats to your diet isn’t so difficult. Simply switch to coconut or palm oil for your roasting, sautÃƒ©ing, or for salad dressings and homemade condiments, or baking. And I’ve gotta admit, for sake of realism (I pretend to be a method writer), I just cracked open the palm oil and took a scoop. Like I said, it’s pretty intimidating — a bright red cooking oil — but it has a mild taste. It’s earthy and smoky tasting and reminds me of a light sesame oil. I’ll try it in cooking this week and update you via the liver detox blog. Speaking of which, how is everyone’s liver this week?, Today marks one week for me on this program and I will be posting a blog in a bit on how it’s been for me and what results I’m noticing.
*Note that coconut oil is thyroid-stimulating and therefore may not be a good idea for those with hyperthyroidism. You can read more about the thyroid-stimulating effects of coconut oil here and here.
Until Next Week,
- Surprise — Saturated Fats Really Are Good For You
- What if bad fat isn’t so bad?: No one’s ever proved that saturated fat clogs arteries, causes heart disease
- Why Fast Foods Are Bad, Even In Moderation
- Healthy Fats: Is There Such A Thing?
- Are Saturated Fats Really Dangerous For You?
Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com,
Tags: Goitrogens and soy, graves' disease, hashimoto's disease, How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Liz Schau Writer, soy's affect on thyroids, thyroid food resources, thyroid nutrition, thyroid nutrition column, thyroid nutrition tips, thyroid nutritional resources