Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap for decades. Since the 50’s, we were told to avoid saturated fat at all costs. We were told that it was harmful to our health, and “clog arteries” and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s not until recently that experts in the field of nutrition have finally come to the conclusion that fat saturated fat consumption is not directly related to CV disease, and consumption is vital for optimal health.
If you aren’t convinced, and still think saturated fat can be harmful for your health, take a look at this large study of almost 350,000 subjects.
“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.”
There are plenty of other studies, but that’s the topic of a different post. Now, let’s take a look at two plant based foods that contain high levels of saturated fat, but are excellent for your health:
Plenty of research has been conducted on coconut (coconut oil in particular), and the results have made it clear that the coconut is an extremely powerful high-fat food.
Saturated Fat Content: 33%
Coconut contains an astonishing 33 grams of saturated fat per 100 gram serving. These saturated fats are particularly unique, in that they come in the form of medium-chain fatty acids as opposed to long-chain fatty acids like those found in meat or dairy products.
What’s unique about these medium-chain fatty acids is that they are transported directly to the liver and can be used as a source of energy by the body immediately. This means that the saturated fat in coconuts is an extremely efficient source of energy for the body.
Health Benefits of Coconut
- Can increase caloric expenditure and help you burn more fat (1)
- Lauric acid can help kill harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses (2)
- May improve blood lipid levels (3,4)
- May boost brain function in Alzheimer’s patients (5)
Whether you consume raw coconut, dried coconut, coconut butter or coconut oil, you will reap the benefits of this incredibly powerful high-fat food.
Extra Dark Chocolate
Extra dark chocolate (and any raw cacao products for that matter) have a number of health benefits as a result of both the antioxidants found in the cacao, and the type of saturated fat it contains.
Saturated Fat Content: 32%
Extra dark chocolate contains 32 grams of saturated fat per 100 gram serving – just a hair behind that of the coconut.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
- One of the best food sources of antioxidants (6)
- Improves blood lipid levels (7)
- May protect skin agains sun damage (8)
- May reduce risk of CV disease (9)
From The Harvard Health Publications:
“About a third of the fat in cocoa butter is oleic acid, the very same monounsaturated fat that gives olive oil its good name. Another third is stearic acid; it is a saturated fat, but unlike the three other saturated fats in the human diet, stearic acid does not raise cholesterol levels because the body can metabolize it to oleic acid. And while chocolate also contains some palmitic acid, a saturated fat that does boost cholesterol, careful studies show that eating chocolate does not raise blood cholesterol levels.”
Aim for high quality organic extra dark 80-90% chocolate, which will contain less sugar, and have more of the healthy antioxidants.
The Bottom Line
Both coconut and extra dark chocolate contain over 30% saturated fat, yet have many health benefits. If you are still concerned about consuming saturated fat, do your own research and you’ll find that what you’ve been told for the last 50 years is completely inaccurate.
On a side note, it’s important to keep in mind that since these foods are high in fat, they are also high in calories. As such, they should be eaten in moderation.
What’s your favourite high fat food? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!