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One of my November, 2015 Wise Traditions talks is now available online as an article:

Saturated Fat Does a Body Good

A few things you can find in the article:

  • Saturated fat is about specific foods, not animal foods vs. plant foods; the diets richest in saturated fat derive it from coconut, and the American diet is moderate in saturated fat, not high in saturated fat.
  • Saturated fats play essential roles in membranes and as additions to proteins that serve as anchors and switches.
  • There are some hints from fruit flies that stearic acid could be beneficial to Parkinson's and mitochondrial dysfunction.
  • MCTs and butyrate support energy metabolism and butyrate supports intestinal health; these are all saturated fats.
  • Obtaining the fat we need in the diet may help spare us from having to make it, and this may spare NADPH needed for antioxidant defense, detoxification, and nutrient recycling. But this may only be relevant at very low intakes of fat.


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  1. Given your expertise in this area, Chris I’d like you to address an article in ‘The Journal of Clinical Investigation’ entitled: “Acute dietary fat intake initiates alterations in energy metabolism and insulin resistance”. This study received a lot of media last year, but no response that I could find from you or CK or others in the Paleo/Weston Price field. Thanks.

  2. Chris- I really don’t think that saturated fats work for us. Colin Combs, AD researcher, finds that APP and Amyloid B increase in the intestines when saturated fats are consumed. Along with us, CD36 is decreased by Amyloid B and there is a decrease in cholesterol uptake. My son has Down syndrome and so that is just the way it is. Cholesterol itself doesn’t seem to be a problem according to some of the research I have done and I’m quite thankful for that. I realize that saturated fats as in coconut oil have been used to ketosis but that is a different approach and I’m more interested in control of APP in general. This is all related to a manganese deficiency. Besides all that, low CD36 is associated with celiac disease and leaky gut in two separate studies that I found. Fortunately, I think that eggs will be OK and we don’t plan to become vegetarians but this really changes our game. Your thoughts are of course welcome. We are also supplementing with choline, liposomal thiamine and/or Benfotiamine, a good B vitamin, etc…..

  3. I'm kind of surprised that the conversation about "saturated fat" hasn't ventured into the area of taurine. The thing is, one needs taurine to create the bile to digest the saturated fat. All well and good if one has the taurine in the diet or the precursors to create it … but it turns out that Americans have neither. Hence saturated fat sucks up such little taurine as exists.

    What is more interesting to me as a beef-lover is that cooked beef (but not raw beef!) apparently blocks the retrieval of taurine from the gut. That may be the real lesson from Pottenger's cats?

    Is anyone looking at this? The "energy drink" people are adding taurine to their drinks, but there isn't much published about it except it is a "non essential" amino acid. And yet, the cultures who excrete the most taurine (aka surplus taurine), also have the least heart disease, and it appears to be directly related to muscle aging.

    An interesting thing about taurine is that in spite of the fact it's named after bulls, there is not much of it in most beef. It depends on how it is cooked, for one thing. But there is way more in turkey, eggs, squid, and scallops. Almost none in vegies.

    1. Which are the "cultures who excrete the most taurine," and what do they eat? Do they consume large amounts of turkey, eggs, squid, and scallops?

  4. It seems like the atherogenicity of certain saturated fatty acids, specifically palmitic acid, depends on what proportion of that palmitic acid is esterified to the sn-2 position of the glycerol backbone in the triglycerides of a given fat. The higher this percentage, the higher the atherogenicity of the fat, it would seem.

    Seemingly, this is the reason why lard, which has a lower SFA content than palm oil or tallow, is more atherogenic than either of these "more saturated" fats. To wit, palmitic acid in non-randomised lard is located exclusively at the sn-2 position, whereas in non-randomised palm oil and tallow, it is located at the sn-1 and sn-3 positions.

    1. By non-randomised, I mean natural – not interesterified. Interesterification evens things out as a roughly similar amount of palmitic acid will be esterified to the sn-1, sn-2 and sn-3 positions.

  5. «Saturated fat is about specific foods, not animal foods vs. plant foods»

    An interesting question is whether this is completely true, given that the structure of the fat can be different.

    «In most vegetable dietary fats, palmitic (C16:0) and stearic acids (C18:0) mainly occupy the 1- and 3-positions of the triacylglycerol molecule, whereas an unsaturated fatty acid such as oleic acid or linoleic acid (18:2 cis,cis-9,12) usually occupies the 2-position. In animal fats, this is not the case.»

    It is also a difference between mammalian fat such as seal or whale oil (warm blooded) and for example fish from arctic regions (cold blooded).

    «Fish-oil omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are mostly esterified to the sn-2 position of triglycerides, while in seal-oil triglycerides, these are mostly esterified to the sn-1 and -3 positions. We investigated whether fish-oil and seal-oil feeding has a different effect on the regulation of lipid metabolism and oxidative stress in BioF1B hamsters.» (…) «RESULTS: Plasma and hepatic lipids and lipid peroxidation levels were significantly lower in seal-oil-fed hamsters as compared to those fed fish-oil. There was a selective hindrance of clearance of lipids in fish-oil-fed hamsters as reflected by higher levels of plasma apoB48.

    1. That is an interesting point, but I think what I said remains completely true. That the esterification pattern differs between different fats and oils doesn't change the fact that the amount of saturated fat is dependent on specific food profiles rather than the animal vs plant dichotomy.


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