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Last year, our product was featured in the Daily Mail amongst some other oat-porridge brands to compare how good they are for you and if the slightly higher price point of these products are justified with that price point for the benefits they provide your health. Each one of the products was given a snippet of what it was and its mission and then an expert reviewed the nutritional information and scored them out of 10. Our product received a 2/10.
A 2! Out of 10.
The reason given for this, is that a 50g portion of our porridge alternative for keto dieters, would contain the equivalent to ⅔ the amount of saturated fat that’s in two sausages. Although the expert did point out the good fats the product contains, it was not enough to balance a good score.
First, just to point out. We (The Brave Ape Co.) are not bitter about this score and we’re not going to start dismissing or demeaning the professional opinion of the expert in this blog post. However, it does bring to light what’s really understood within nutritional science by experts as nutritional science is evolving and the term expert may suggest that the opinion stated by such a person equals definitive fact.
The opinion of course holds weight but, more research from various studies are leading to different conclusions than what was supposed before and this means that some ‘experts’ although qualified and experienced, may not be totally aware of new research and evidence that opposes conventional opinion. The debate on saturated fats either being good or bad, is probably the most controversial debate in nutritional science.
The reason for our reaction to the article and this blog, is to break down the bad rap that ‘fat’ still gets and try to alleviate some of the stigma around it and more specifically, the stigma around saturated fats.
As we all know, a core component of the ketogenic diet is to consume a relatively large portion of fat in our daily macros and the stigma that saturated fat gets, can damage the reputation of keto and potentially deters some people from trying the lifestyle, thus leaving many missing out on the many benefits that it provides.
So, we all probably know the basics by now or at least heard of terms. There are three categories of fats that we should concentrate on - trans fats, unsaturated and saturated fats. The concern from health experts is the impact they have on our cholesterol, in particular the bad kind called LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which has been linked to increasing heart disease risk factors. The other good kind being HDL (high-density lipoprotein), has heart protecting qualities which we are encouraged to get more of. The increase in LDL cholesterol from fat is the primary reason ‘fat’ gets a bad rap.
Trans-fats can be found naturally in animal products, which in moderation, isn’t too bad for you however, the artificial trans-fats that have been chemically altered or hydrogenated to give unsaturated fats like vegetable oils a longer shelf life, are undoubtedly very bad for you. The main reason why they’re so bad is because they’ve been shown to significantly increase our LDL cholesterol and not increase our HDL cholesterol at all. Whereas other fats have a bit of an impact on both.
Unsaturated fats are usually broken down in two types; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated - These are typically liquid at room temperature, think olive oil, oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. Unsaturated fats are good for you and have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol meaning they should be an important part of your diet.
Now the contentious type of fat… saturated fat. This is typically solid at room temperature and can be found in animal products like meat, cheese and coconut oil. The reason for the negative stigma associated with saturated fat is the ratio difference between the impact it has on LDL and HDL cholesterol. It’s been shown to increase LDL cholesterol but not increase HDL cholesterol enough.
Now, the contentious part is that although this has been linked to increased heart disease risk factors, recent studies have shown that it isn’t directly linked or associated to heart disease itself whatsoever.
So, what’s really the deal with saturated fat?
The problem is, nutritional science is incredibly complex and we don’t currently have all the answers. Saturated-fat can be considered an umbrella term for many different types of saturated fats, each having their own impact on our health and generalising saturated fat to make conclusions, isn’t very helpful or perhaps even true.
What is important to consider, is our diets as a whole and focusing on one macro-nutrient isn’t going to tell us as much compared to taking a holistic approach. Genetics are also a part of this holistic approach and as individuals, different nutrients all affect us differently. This part however, is where generalisations can sometimes be helpful in speaking to a mass audience and providing advice.
A diet high in saturated fat that predominantly comes from fried foods, processed meats, cakes and sugary treats is completely different from a diet high in saturated fat which comes from grass fed meats, nuts, seeds and coconut oil. Many influential advocates in the keto community promote the latter kind of healthy foods so it’s association as an unhealthy diet that’s high in saturated fat is massively unfair. Nutritious foods high in saturated fat can of course be a part of a healthy diet.
The genuine problem that could be associated with keto, is promoting too much processed meats and over-consuming these but, this is definitely not something we advocate for.
So let’s revisit our 2/10 score from the Daily Mail…
The main ingredients in our keto porridge is, chia seeds, hemp hearts, coconut flour, desiccated coconut and ground flax seeds. All of which are super nutritious and of course, should be included within a healthy diet no matter the particular diet you follow as the benefits from the gut loving fibre, being a great source of protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and the vast vitamins and minerals they provide are almost unparalleled.
We hope this helps and provides a little clarity around fats and more specifically, around saturated fats in making food choices that promote a healthy lifestyle. As always, we encourage people to do their own research and own findings (from credible sources of course) to distil the stigma around saturated fat.