Sunday, June 7, 2009

Benefits of High-Saturated Fat Diets (Part I)

Results above -- click to enlarge.

What's a 46% fat diet?

Perhaps what our stone-age ancestors consumed during happy, reproductive, fertile times?

The diet compared 6% Sat Fat (low fat) to 18% Sat Fat (high fat) in a little discussed publication by Krauss et al, one of the founders of NMR lipoprotein density technology here in the Bay Area.

Change in dietary saturated fat intake is correlated with change in mass of large low-density-lipoprotein particles in men.
Krauss RM et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 May;67(5):828-36. Click HERE for PDF.

  • The low-fat diet contained 24% of energy as fat (6% saturated, 12% monounsaturated, and 4% polyunsaturated) and 59% as carbohydrate, with equal amounts of simple and complex
    carbohydrates and 17% as protein.
  • The high-fat diet contained 46% of energy as fat (18% saturated, 13% monounsaturated, and 12% polyunsaturated) and 39% as carbohydrate and 15% as protein.

STUDY DESIGN: They tested whether nutrient intakes estimated from 4-d diet records were associated with plasma lipoprotein subclasses in 103 men who were randomly assigned to a low-fat (24% fat) and a high-fat (46% fat) diet for 6 wk each in a crossover design. Carbohydrates (~20% of energy) were basically substituted out for dietary fat intake.

Outcomes can be summarized as the high SFA (saturated fatty acid) diet inducing multiple positive regressive lipoprotein changes:
  • raised Large LDL-I 42.6%
  • raised Large LDL-II 14.9%
  • reduced sd-LDL, LDL-III 26.4%
  • reduced sd-LDL, LDL-IV 39.1%
  • raised the regressive particle most associated with longevity, niacin and omega-3 benefits, HDL-2 49.9%
  • lowered VLDL 38.6%
  • lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity increased with high fat
  • hepatic lipase (HL) activity decreased with high fat

The above high fat diet comprised of mostly myristic acid (14:0), palmitic acid (16:0) and stearic acid (18:0). See Table 1.

  • The results indicate significant associations of dietary saturated fat intake with plasma LDL-particle distributions.
  • An increase in saturated fat, and in particular, myristic acid, was associated with increases in larger LDL particles (and decreases in smaller LDL particles).
  • Studies of the relation between LDL subclasses and CAD have, in contrast, established that a predominance of small, dense LDL particles (LDL subclass pattern B) is associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction (47, 48) and angiographically documented CAD (48–50). Some studies have also shown that small LDL particles are potentially more atherogenic than larger LDL because of increased susceptibility to oxidation (51, 52) and increased promotion of intracellular cholesterol ester accumulation (53). In addition, reductions in small LDL particles, not in larger LDL particles, have been associated with decreased CAD progression (54, 55).

So the authors do discuss the value of reducing sd-LDL, the holy grail of heart disease sufferers. The discussion on the benefits of a saturated fat intake of 18% however seemed to be quite curt and short though.

In fact, I couldn't even find it.

What we know about lipoproteins at TYP is that the bigger, the better. And the statements made by Krauss definitely confirms our current understanding.

The profound enlargement of Large-LDL (I and II) and HDL-2 in healthy men is quite extraordinary ad remarkable in only 6 weeks. No drugs involved, diet alone. In one the next few posts, we'll examine a heart disease population, including post-CABG men and women, and the benefits, again, of a high saturated fat diet.

Dietary Sources of SFAs Myristic and Palmitic Acid

  • Cephalopods -- squid, octopus, cuttlefish -- which are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids as well. Click here for more info (Ozugul Y. Food Chemistry 2008. 108(3):847-852).
  • Wild Fish (Periago MJ. Aquaculture 2005. 249 (1-4):175-188.)
  • Grassfed Beef (Leheska JM, J. Anim Sci. 2008)
  • Grassfed Beef + FO Supplementation: Even higher SFA/ palmitic/ myristic quantity when fed fish oil omega-3 supplementation! (See Table 5. Moloney AP. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2001), 60, 221–229.)
  • Grassfed Bison (Marchello MJ. Great Plains Research 11 (Spring 2001): 65-82.)
  • Free-Range Chicken (Jahan K. 2005 Poultry Science 84:158–166)
  • Free-Range Chicken Egg yolks (not 'organic'-wheat-feed, see above citation)
  • Pasture-raised Lamb
  • Pasture-raised Pork
  • Pasture-raised Diary, Cheese, Ghee, Butter Oil (casein-free, (Nestel J Am Coll Nutr.2008; 27: 735S-740S)
  • Lard
  • Beef Tallow

Vegetarian Sources

For vegetarian sources, virgin coconut oil is a good sub, containing shorter SFAs (medium-chain) lauric and caprylic acid. Sat Fat 18% of a 2000 Kcal/d diet would be equivalent to 40 grams of coconut oil (fat is 9 kcal/g).

Or 2.8 Tablespoons VCO daily.

My HDLs Increased 18.0% With Coconut Oil
Like many Paleo fans, I have observed an increase in my HDLs from 89 mg/dl back in 12/2008 to now 105 mg/dl. It's now almost ~12 mos gluten free, baby. Wow. What a year.

About 6-8 wks prior to the blood test, we started cooking with VCO, virgin coconut oil (+smearing it all over my body after studies to back justification *haa* but it's nice cheap and works, eg less wrinkles, better healing, maybe better HDLs).

TGs came down from 80s to now 60s mg/dl.

Both the LDL is now higher 120s mg/dl (directly measured, not Friedewald) and TC in the 240s like some long-living healthy female elderly and centenarians.


Anonymous said...

Dr. BG,

Do you think that coconut oil is also a good source of these fats?

Thank you.

Dr. B G said...


Yes -- definitely.

There is one in vitro animal study (which I'll post on later, someday) which looked at the context of high insulin, high cortisol, high blood glucoses and the effects of coconut oil. The result was higher blood glucoses and inflammation with coconut oil. Otherwise in healthy volunteers which I've posted HERE and HERE
, coconut oil has vast anti-atherosclerotic properties on lipoproteins.


Anonymous said...

@Dr. B G:

Is coconut oil good if "the result was higher blood glucoses and inflammation with coconut oil."?


All the best,
Barry in Indy

Dr. B G said...

Hi Barry,

Like all things in life... balance is required. Just like overdoing weight lifting, xfit or endurance training, there is too much of a good thing. Even too much fish oil (yes I said that) can be excessive. The key is... to when is too much.

Even running for someone unconditioned (like a newbie-TYP member) could have consequences.

Ok, so coconut oil can apparently worsen glucoses, inflammation and likewise if an 'inflamed state' is the baseline context.

However, in a controlled, stable, uninflamed state (eg, body fat reduction occurring, on TYP program, some omega-3, some antioxidants, some vitamin D, mod veggies, no wheat/gluten, low carb, movement daily, etc), then coconut oil will be VERY effective at lower dense LDL and dramatically increasing HDLs, esp the regressive particle HDL-2b, in HEYYYUGE ways.

I hope that clarifies imo.


Anonymous said...


We have just added your latest post "Animal Pharm: Benefits of High-Saturated Fat Diets" to our Directory of Science . You can check the inclusion of the post here . We are delighted to invite you to submit all your future posts to the directory and get a huge base of visitors to your website.

Warm Regards Team

Anonymous said...

Know this is an old post, but what about palm oil??

Dr. B G said...


I learn so much when I answer your questions.

Tocotrienols and tocopherols are some of the most potent antioxidants, as are n-3, saturated fats, carotenoids, retinols, vit D, and menaquinones. Unfortunately the studies with Vit E high dose d-alpha-tocopherol are bad across the board. The HATS is a best example. Less improvement in the vit E arm compared to the other treatment arm that was vit E-free. The probme is that alpha depletes the other tocopherols (gamma particularly). In foods, these occur together -- as tocopherols and tocotrienols.

See Barry Tan

Palm oil has everything -- vit A, carotenoids (thus the deep orange/red colors), E/tocopherols/tocotrienols, saturated fats. All the fat soluble nutrients are synergistic in binding our nuclear receptors -- RAR RXR VDR PPAR etc.

Unrefined virgin palm is just awesome stuff and prepared the ancestral way even more nutrititious -- the ergosterol becomes vitamin D when laid out in the sunlight.

The original vitamin D trials showed irradiated 'dust' (e.g. air) even produced prevention of rickets in lab animals!!!!

Erwan LeCorre uses palm in the salad dressings at Mov Nat as Richard Nikoley wrote about. I've had it in salad dressings and chocolate almond butter brownies (yeah -- lots of lectins and n-6!!). I need to incorporate more into dark meaty stews, Caesar dressings and other deep flavored dishes. I don't cook much fish, now esp after the Japan nuclear breakdown, I'll probably buy/cook even less (even less SASHIMI *boo*) BUT seafood+palm is like the SUPER LONGEVITY HEALTH food b/c you have n-3, saturated fats and tons of antioxidants.

Do you use?
What meals?
Family like?

It has a distinctive 'taste' but I like it.