Think Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Will Give You Heart Disease? Think Again.

saturated fat and cholesterol heart disease think again

Sometimes I forget that most people have not re-embraced healthy, traditional, saturated fats like I have.  And even if they have, they still cling to the idea that too much fat would be “bad”.

Those two statements alone open a can of worms for a lot of people.  I had a friend once say “So all those lessons we had in school about how good fats were liquid at room temperature and bad fats were solid…those were wrong?”  Yep.  Give me butter over canola oil any day.

Saturated fats like grass-fed butter, pastured lard, beef and lamb tallow from grazing animals, coconut oil, and palm oil: all of these give us nourishment in a way that other fats and lowfat diets never can.

Not All Fats Are Created Equal:

If you have been to the grocery store lately, you have probably seen the pale sticks of butter that line the refrigerated section.  Barely yellow, these sticks of butter contain far less vitamin content than their grass-fed counterparts. This is because the naturally yellow butter color comes from the vitamin content.

Of particular interest is the vitamin K2 content in butterfat from grass-fed cows.  Vitamin K2 is made when the cows eating green grass convert the vitamin K from the grass into vitamin K2 in their milk.  In short, vitamin K2 was abundant in traditional diets, and it is key in the building of bones and teeth in particular.

Yes, grass-fed dairy is more expensive.  But it doesn’t mean that you aren’t getting more bang for your buck.  If you pay more for grass-fed butter, you will be getting a much higher quality fat source in your diet.  However, even if you cannot source grass-fed butter then please still buy the best quality butter you can find.  Real traditional fats are still better than hydrogenated oils and margarines.

In addition to butter, there are many other traditional fats that are nourishing and essential to good health.  I have listed them as their best-quality versions.

Saturated Fats Won’t Give You Heart Disease?:

Out of my list, you will notice that many are saturated fats: solid at room temperature and very shelf stable with a tendency for high smoke points.  All these factors make them excellent for high heat cooking.  They include cocoa butter, coconut oil, tallow, and ghee (not butter: it still has milk solids which can burn).

And no, none of them will give you heart disease.

On page 5, the section on “Fats” in Nourishing Traditions, it says:

…heart disease causes at least 40 percent of all U.S. deaths.  If, as we have been told, heart disease is caused by consumption of saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fats in the American diet.  Actually, the reverse is true.  During the sixty-year period from 1910 to 1970, the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83 percent to 62 percent, and butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to four.  During the past eighty years, dietary cholesterol intake has increased only 1 percent.  During the same period the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increased about 400 percent while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60 percent.

In the quote, she mentions cholesterol.  Cholesterol seems to go hand in hand with saturated fat when you talk to the typical American about what they think causes heart disease.  Of course, this makes sense since many times saturated fat and cholesterol co-exist in the same foods, foods that have been villainized by the Food Guide Pyramid and the “diet dictocrats”.

The Lipid Hypothesis is basically that dietary cholesterol causes coronary heart disease.  Yet it has been recently questioned many times over, dividing the evidence found.  Regardless, the American people still cling to the idea that eating saturated fat and cholesterol will give you heart disease.  It is simply not true.

One my favorite food and nutrition writers, Matt Stone, has this to say on the subject:

Cholesterol levels are a pitiful indicator of heart disease risk to the point where they are really no indication at all. Mean serum cholesterol levels in France for example are almost identical to that of Americans, yet their heart disease risk is but a fifth of what America endures. This is just one of literally dozens of striking contradictions.

Look to the studies cited on the saturated fat and cardiovascular disease controversy Wikipedia page.  Even if the collection of findings does not compel you to question the veracity of common nutritional advice, think of our ancestors.

All our human ancestors ate animal fats and saturated fats and cholesterol in abundance.  And they did not die of heart disease.  They may have died from exposure or lack of modern medicine more readily, but certainly not because they only had access to traditional foods and not I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

So, relax.  Grab a croissant and read through my e-book on real food and learn to embrace the nourishing fats of our past.  Your body will thank you!

This post is a part of Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Friday Foods Flicks, Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, The Mommy Club.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


Get Notified Of New Posts

Add your email address here to receive email updates each time I publish a new post or recipe. This makes life a lot easier when you don’t have time to look me up. I’ll deliver my latest to your inbox, so you won’t miss a thing!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. Genevieve says:

    This is my favorite post. I will spread it far and wide. Like a missionary. For the church of fat.

  2. Thank you for this article! I’m all about coconut oil, flaxseed, and duck fat. Mmmm… duck fat.

    Anyway, I found what you said about cholesterol to be very true. Throughout my adolescence I had high cholesterol, and even when I lost weight and ate healthily it was still rather high. And when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2011, it went down SIXTY points, which leads me to believe that high cholesterol doesn’t necessarily come from the foods we eat. I think that, for many, it’s a symptom of something more serious.

    This post was very well done. I hope you have a recipe with duck fat in the near future. 🙂

  3. I am still laughing over this comment…thanks and I concur 100%. We must spread the word…spread it like butter…mmm, butter…

    Great post, thanks!

  4. Linda L. says:

    I’m not into eating dairy products but I like spinach and kale. Aren’t these two good sources of vitamin K2?

    • No, those are a good source of vitamin K, but not vitamin K2. That’s why grass-fed animal foods are so essential, and were highly prized in traditional diets. When an animal eats greens and then metabolizes it into vitamin K2, it then shows up in their milk or liver so we can eat it. But vitamin K2 shows up other places too.

      If you don’t like eating dairy products, you can still get a lot of vitamin K2 in natto (fermented soybeans), chicken liver, fermented foods (like sauerkraut) and egg yolks. I take a fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil blend most days to keep my vitamin A, D, and K2 levels up. You can find that on my resource page.

      • This is a great article! My daughter is anaphylactic allergic to dairy, eggs and nuts. Can you point me in the right direction of what to feed her to make sure her levels of vitamin K2 stay optimal? It is so hard to try to follow the NT way of eating because it seems that so much is based on dairy and eggs and nuts which we cannot even have in the house! I will be sharing your article with my husband who’s doctor recently told him that his cholesterol levels were slightly elevated and that he needs to stop eating his hardboiled eggs for breakfast. (He’s a marine and is in fantastic shape). Thanks!

  5. I just discovered your site and LOVE it! I have a type 1 diabetic 6 year old daughter, am always coming up with new recipes for her and some of her diabetic friends, am compiling a book and a blog to help other parents of diabetic kids who want to feed their kids nutrient-dense foods, contrary to how the ADA and mainstream western nutritionists tell them to eat. (Plus, we are relatively-newly on the GAPS diet). I am also new to blogging, a bit of a dinosaur. So happy I found this site. Your recipes look delicious, and I can’t wait to try some and adapt some for diabetic kids! Thanks for being here!

  6. Great post! It is still surprising how much damage the low-fat dogma has done. I just spent nearly a year traveling around the US. Sometimes, my girlfriend and I stayed on small farms (through WWOOF) and worked with people raising some of their own food.

    What’s amazing is that even people that are completely on-board with the pastured/grass-fed meats, organic everything, still have that margarine in the kitchen. Or the canola oil. They might have butter, but still feel it’s an indulgence.

    It’s going to take a long time to fix the collective damage done to the American diet from low-fat silliness.

    Scott Kustes
    Real Food University

  7. Thank you for this concise article – from a fellow crusader for fat.

  8. Linda Mitchell says:

    What about hemp seed oil? I didn’t see that mentioned in your article. We use it in addition to EVOO and lemon juice when making salad dressing.

  9. How about avocado oil?

  10. Do you mean, if sourced right, no amount of butter, cream, whole dairy, bacon coukd make us fat and sick?

  11. Thank you for sharing this vital information!


  1. […] Think Saturated Fat & Cholesterol Will Give You Heart Disease? Think Again. – All of this. It just makes sense. […]

  2. […] all the concern the vast majority of Americans have about saturated fat, I’m here to tell you that there is good news: fat is good for you.  Traditional fats like […]

  3. […] about how lowfat diets are just plain silly: fat is your friend!  I mean, remember how I said that saturated fat and cholesterol do not cause heart disease?  I stand by […]

  4. […] what I’m saying is that you should eat healthy whole grains, with plenty of traditional, saturated fat, just like we were meant to eat.  The current low carb and paleo movements tend to frame grains as […]

  5. […] don’t buy it when commercials say that saturated fat is bad for you. We don’t buy it when the government tries to scare us from drinking and […]

  6. […] I hoped that I found a kindred spirit; someone writing about how real nutrition should include saturated fats, eggs, and cod liver oil.  I clicked over to verify what the author had “right” from a […]

  7. […] cholesterol causes heart disease? Think […]

  8. […] you think cholesterol causes heart disease? Think […]

  9. […] article on saturated fats and cholesterol is a great read. It’s sad how real fats have been demonized in our culture. I’d take the real […]

  10. […] Non-stick pans were made to make cooking easier, yes, but also to reduce the need for cooking with fat.  This fat phobia is an ongoing belief that fat causes us to be fat, or even causes our cholesterol to go up or heart disease to loom menacingly.  It turns out that traditional fats are good for you, and that saturated fats in particular do not cause heart disease and high cholesterol. […]

  11. […] I probably have pasture raised eggs every day. It’s a shame that a lot of people fear eggs because of cholesterol. The link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease has been disproved. Many agree that it is actually inflammation that causes heart disease and that sugar and other processed foods that exacerbate inflammation. In fact, cholesterol is vital for healthy brain development, sexual health and synthesis of Vitamin D (see related articles- Dr. Mercola, Food renegade, Our Nourishing Roots). […]

  12. […] Along the same lines, low fat diets have been a HUGE failure in the scheme of human health.  As saturated fats disappeared from the American diet being replaced by highly processed vegetable oil, heart disease and obesity have sky-rocketed.  It’s really hard to change dogma that has been taught for so long, even if i’s completly incorrect.  Our Nourishing Roots shares an awesome post on why saturated fats and cholesterol DO NOT give you heart disease. […]

  13. […] But surely all that fat will cause heart disease. Well, no. Read Our Nourishing Roots post Think Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Will Give You Heart Disease? Think Again.  […]

  14. […] Along the same lines, low fat diets have been a HUGE failure in the scheme of human health.  As saturated fats disappeared from the American diet being replaced by highly processed vegetable oil, heart disease and obesity have sky-rocketed.  It’s really hard to change dogma that has been taught for so long, even if i’s completly incorrect.  Our Nourishing Roots shares an awesome post on why saturated fats and cholesterol DO NOT give you heart disease. […]

Speak Your Mind