In order to answer this question it is first necessary to identify what is meant by ‘fats’ and the different types of fats. For the longest time we have been told that fats are bad for you, but not all fats are created equally in this.
We have, over the years, reduced the amount of fats in our diets because that is what we were told was making us unhealthy and overweight. When in actual fact, our bodies actually need some of those fats and the products created to replace the natural occurring fats in things like meat have created a bigger problem. So let’s take a look at the different type of fats and how they affect our body and health.
The big baddy of the piece for so many years, but even saturated fat is something that comes in variations. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and are found in animal-based foods such as red meat, poultry and full fat dairy products. Other sources include coconuts and palm oil.
Now this is where it gets a little tricky. Studies carried out in the 50s and 60s that declared saturated fats are bad for you are very outdated. The trouble is, it is very difficult to pin point the exact source of the raise in heart disease as most people who have a diet that is high in saturated fats also eat extremely unhealthy foods that are also high in sugars, which we know to be bad for your heart health. This has resulted in scientists arguing over whether saturated fats are actually the cause of heart disease at all.
It would appear that the general consensus now is that eating saturated fats as part of a balanced and healthy diet won’t raise your cholesterol levels to a point that causes problems for your heart.
The food industry also developed replacements for the naturally occurring saturated fats for us to cook with, spread on bread etc that were considered good for us. These hydrogenated artificial trans fats are a lot more harmful to our health, which we will look at further down.
Most studies state that unsaturated fats are beneficial to our health. Although once again, not all unsaturated fats are equal. The omega fats found in fish and meat are reportedly good for your heart health, for example, but the monounsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds we are advised to not overindulge in. Recent studies are also recommending caution with the amount of polyunsaturated fats we consume.
Well, this one is easy, trans-fats are bad and should be avoided as much as possible. They were created as a healthy alternative initially to saturated fats. But is was soon obvious that this was not the case. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration are trying to get trans fats removed from the food we eat and recommend that we eat as little as possible of these trans fats.
Artificial trans fats were invented as a way to preserve foods and add flavour as removing the animal fats removed a lot of flavour from our food. Trans fats can be found in fried foods, baked goods such as cookies, frozen pizzas, pastries, margarine and processed snack foods.
The Facts About Meat Fats
The first thing to note is that saturated fat is actually quite a small percentage of what makes up many cuts of meat. Even meats you perceive to be high in fats, such as beef steak are actually more water than fat. That is why when you cook it, the meat shrinks. The actual fat content is much lower than your recommended daily amount, usually only around 1%.
The fats we replaced animal fats with are actually causing more harm than good. Polyunsaturated fats are high in omega 6 and we are now consuming way more of this fatty acid than our body needs or can process. In response to this excess of omega 6 over omega 3, were are finding more people with digestive issues, cancers and weight gain than ever before.
Meat and butter from grass-fed animals is a good natural source of omega 3 whereas animals who have a diet high in grains are full of omega 6. We need to keep the balance with these essential fatty acids. Nutritionists recommend twice as much omega 6 to omega 3, but we are currently consuming more than 20 times omega 6.
Animal fats add flavour to your food that is natural and more satisfying which means that you are less likely to add in those sugary trans-fats that are so harmful.
The way we look at fats needs to change. They are not all bad for us at all, in fact those found in meat are actually proving to be good for us and are certainly a lot less harmful than the trans-fats we replaced them with. We need fat to live, it provides energy for the body, helps with the absorption of vitamins and minerals and improves vital functions. But they must be the right fats.
We are all unique and things that may cause issues in health for one person may not in another. However, as a general rule of thumb, there is no evidence to support the claim that meat fats are bad for you. In fact there is mounting evidence to prove the opposite.
By reducing the amount of animal fats in our diets we have subsequently increased the amount of sugars and bad fats to compensate. Studies have shown that a diet low in fats leaves us feeling hungry, prone to illness, depressed and suffering from weight gain. The world is slowly waking up to the knowledge that not all fats are bad and in fact, some are necessary for us to actually maintain a healthy weight and body. Some of these healthy fats are found in meat.
So are meat fats good for you? Our team at Eat Great Meat believe that they are and many studies are backing that up today. We believe that they are and many studies are backing that up today.