Doctor Isadore Rosenfeld is a frequent guest on Fox New Sunday. According to his Fox News bio, "With nine best-selling books to his credit (as well as a textbook for doctors), Dr. Rosenfeld is one of the leading and most effective proponents of the medical enlightenment of the American public. He is a contributing editor of Parade Magazine, with 82 million readers." http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,34772,00.html
I find him to be very likable, and I enjoy his news segments. Fortunately I have learned to take his recommendations with a grain of salt. Sunday morning, for example, he had an interesting segment on eggs. Once believe to be a contributor to heart disease, Dr. Rosenfeld pointed out a study that showed eating eggs did not raise cholesterol and can actually contribute to weight loss. No big surprise to us low carb fans, but it was sure nice to hear that reported in the main stream. However, a few seconds later he uttered this little sentence..."Saturated fat raises cholesterol levels."
This is a widely held belief, and it is something that is a cherished view of vegetarian activists.
"Saturated fat raises the level of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is present in animal foods but not plant foods. It is essential for metabolism but is not needed in the diet as our bodies can produce all that is needed. Raised blood cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease."
"Well-planned vegetarian diets provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs, and dairy products." http://www.goveg.com/healthconcerns.asp
The whole animal fats bad/plant oils good idea ignores the reality that not only are animal fats NOT bad for you, not all animal fats are even saturated. "The reality is that both animal and vegetable fats and oils are composed of many different kinds of fats, each with it's own chain length and degree of saturation, and each with a different effect on cholesterol. Half the fat in beef, for instance, is unsaturated, and most of that fat in the same monounsaturated fat as in olive oil. Lard is 60% unsaturated; most of the fat in chicken is unsaturated as well." - Gary Taubes, "Good Calories, Bad Calories"
But before you drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what percentage of each animal product is unsaturated, you should realize, that despite spending millions trying to prove that animal fats, saturated or otherwise, as well as plant based saturated fats like coconut and palm oils are bad for you, the evidence just doesn't pan out.
"The longest, most prestigious and widely quoted long-term study on CHD (coronary heart disease), the Framingham study, clearly shows that those who eat the most saturated fat have the lowest cholesterol levels."
"Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization." - Gary Taubes, "Good Calories, Bad Calories"
So, despite popular wisdom and the words of kindly but misguided Dr. Rosenfeld, saturated fats, though they may or may not raise cholesterol, aren't even bad for you. At worst, they are neutral. At best, they may even be protective.
"We have all been brainwashed into believing that eating foods with any type of fat is a heart attack on a plate, despite the fact that saturated and mono-unsaturated fats have never been shown to cause heart disease, but have been shown to protect against this and many other serious diseases...
Before the twentieth century, most of the fatty acids in the diet were either saturated or monounsaturated, primarily from animal fats such as butter, lard and beef and mutton dripping. In those days, fewer than one in twenty-seven people got cancer and heart disease was so rare that very few doctors had even heard of it, let alone seen a case. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, most of the fats in the diet are polyunsaturated from vegetable oils, and cancer now affects one person in two and heart disease is a major killer." - Barry Groves, "Eat Fat Get Thin"
Dr. Rosenfeld is a great example of why people need to do their own research. Despite what we are often told in the media, the evidence is out there that saturated fats aren't bad for us, cholesterol isn't the cause of heart disease, and people who do intentionally lower their cholesterol don't necessarily live longer. The culprit in the whole heart disease issue is, instead of saturated fat, carbohydrates. I will leave it up to you to dig up the carbohydrate information on your own. Getting a copy of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" will give you a good start.
The funniest thing about the Doctor Rosenfeld segment wasn't his obviously wrong interpretation of what constitutes a bad fat, but what happened later in the segment. Someone had written in about cocoa butter and wondered if she should stop eating it for health reasons. Doctor Rosenfeld said there was no reason to stop since cocoa butter was really good for you and he spent quite a bit of time singing its praises. While I agree that cocoa butter is good for you, obviously Doctor R. didn't realize that cocoa butter is comprised primarily of...you guessed it...saturated fat. Yet, saturated fat is the very thing he warned against just minutes earlier.
This story is a good illustration of why your shouldn't let a kindly face and an authoritative voice on TV, or even a blogger like myself, sway you too much when it comes to something as important as your health. Take everything you hear or see with a large grain of salt and do your own investigation.