4

votes

Ancestral Diets and Saturated Fat

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 28, 2013 at 7:45 PM

I have heard from numerous sources including Weston A Price and their disciples that in some places they eat a diet that has 50-60% of its calories as saturated fat.

I'm just curious what the words 'saturated fat' refer to in this context. Does this mean that their diet is, for example, 50% beef tallow or another highly saturated ruminant fat?

Or does it mean that their diet is literally 50% saturated fat? (I don't know how they would manage, except with coconut oil, but that is only available in certain parts of the world.)

2564c814ad9931c834ae092e1ef069fb

(231)

on July 30, 2013
at 08:12 PM

I agree and I'm a big supporter of Weston Price. They write that *certain* cultures like the Masai had eaten 50-60% saturated fat, not that everyone of them did.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on July 30, 2013
at 12:15 AM

Bingo..........

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 29, 2013
at 03:06 AM

I would assume that seal fat is close to cold water fish fat in composition: roughly 20% saturated, 40% PUFA, 40% MUFA. 20% x 75% = 15% of their calories as saturated fat.

76026e8ef496039d5075440ff731aa0d

(5386)

on July 29, 2013
at 02:55 AM

I'm a dude...but Matt...you're my man crush...I'm only 50-60% kidding!

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 28, 2013
at 11:09 PM

Excellent question.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 28, 2013
at 10:45 PM

Whale and seal oil appear to be high omega-3 sources. http://www.wdcs.org/submissions_bin/trade_report_201006.pdf

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 28, 2013
at 10:07 PM

See below. Lots of fat all the time, but rarely a high amount saturated.

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

7 Answers

8
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 29, 2013
at 02:26 AM

The idea that the bulk of human diet calories came from, could come from, should come from saturated fat is just plain silly. It's simply unreasonable, there aren't that great of sources of saturated fats. It is physically and practically impossible to do so.

Take holy grail of animal fats, beef tallow: It's just 50% satruated (45% MUFA, 5% PUFA). So already, a diet consisting of 50-60% calories from saturated fat is nonsense. To achieve that amount, you're eating nothing but nutrient empty beef tallow. Utter nonsense.

Ok, fine, but what about coconut oil, you say? It's a whopping 90% saturated (7% MUFA, 3% PUFA), surely that proves coconut is the perfect food?! Yeah.. no. You'd still need to eat roughly 60% of your diet as pure coconut oil to achieve the magic target.

Both of these fat sources aren't easily accessible around the world, they're actually fairly limited in availability.

Saturated fat is found in high amounts in tropical plants and animals, but generally there's such a plentiful supply of plants year-round that animal products are actually deemphasized. You're talking fat proportion in diet of 20-40%, half of that fat perhaps being saturated, so a mere 10-20% of calories as saturated fat. As you move to temperate and cooler climates, saturated fat becomes harder to find, animals are 20-40% saturated fat, plants don't have much saturated fat at all. But the proportion of calories from fat increases to maybe 40-80%, saturated fat then makes up 10-30% of total calories. Interesting that saturated fat intake between climates is roughly the same? And where do folks get the silly 50-60% number?

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on July 30, 2013
at 12:15 AM

Bingo..........

76026e8ef496039d5075440ff731aa0d

(5386)

on July 29, 2013
at 02:55 AM

I'm a dude...but Matt...you're my man crush...I'm only 50-60% kidding!

3
5dd50f78f47b8848d93724d6eb38d4c1

on July 29, 2013
at 01:31 AM

Because the people at the Weston A price foundation are cranks. They even tried to push the traditional Okinawan diet as high in saturated fat. I wouldn't take too much of what they say seriously.

2
Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 28, 2013
at 10:04 PM

The diet my personal ancestors ate was high in saturated fat from dairy and red meat. Fresh vegetables - and vegetable-based oils - were virtually impossible to get up until 50-100 years ago. But I don't consider the diet they ate to be paleo.

Closer to the paleo ideal, and where I live now, was the coast Salish diet. This diet contained some saturated fat from game, but it's doubtful that there was a continuous supply of saturated fat to eat abundantly year round. Bear was like an oil well of sat fat when it could be hunted, but the steadiest supply of dietary fat came from fish and was unsaturated.

From what I've read a culture which can eat 50% of its calories as animal-based saturated fats has to be wealthy and almost certainly agrarian. The small animals Paleolithics had to catch daily would not have been chubby. Sami and Inuit cultures may have had more sat fat, but these extreme Nordic cultures are anomalies dating from late paleo /early Neolithic time.

1
597b6a6c33f63e0e019d4bec2e3efbf2

(30)

on July 28, 2013
at 09:04 PM

I would presume that "saturated fat" really refers to "animal fat". I don't see how the diet could be analysed in minute detail in terms of chemical composition at the times WAP was writing.

There is anecdotal evidence in terms of fatty meats being highly prized or specifically bred for - e.g. the mangalitza pig was bred for lard production. But that would be seasonal.

1
742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on July 28, 2013
at 08:08 PM

Good question. I have never seen any traditional culture rely on a high saturated fat diet from either tallow or another ruminant fat besides dairy. Dairy is more nutrient rich than things such as tallow, or lard. So it seems to me that a diet high in any of these fats would probably be less nutrient dense and more unnatural? Is there any evidence of high non-dairy animal fat consumption?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 28, 2013
at 10:07 PM

See below. Lots of fat all the time, but rarely a high amount saturated.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on July 29, 2013
at 02:58 AM

No one is arguing that one should eat 60% sat fat, Matt. But there are cases in the literature. Yes, it is remote polynesian islands. But a very useful data point for those of us hovering between 10 and 20% sat fat.

I don't think the Weston Price folks are cranks, there is hardly a person in this forum who is not affected by Price's work. There is a nice series on malocclusion on the Whole Health Source website cited above. It uses solely the work of Mr. Coluccini (sp?), all peer reviewed papers. But who was the pioneer on malocclusion?

2564c814ad9931c834ae092e1ef069fb

(231)

on July 30, 2013
at 08:12 PM

I agree and I'm a big supporter of Weston Price. They write that *certain* cultures like the Masai had eaten 50-60% saturated fat, not that everyone of them did.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on July 28, 2013
at 10:06 PM

Not so. Traditionally, lard was preserved and used through the year. In certain groups, even pig bones were preserved for soups (by salting). For saturated fat = coconut, the OP should look at the early articles about Kitava at Whole Health Source. Indeed, in Kitava diseases of civilization are absent. There is also a famous study of islanders moving to New Zealand, so it is worth searching "Tokelau" also on that site. These people did eat 60% saturated fat via coconut while healthy, and became sick on a Western diet.

There were and still are numerous ethnic groups that rely on ruminant fat, most notably the Masai. Given that all ruminants fat composition is 40-50 saturated, 40-50 monounsaturated, and 10% poly, you may consider these people as high in saturated fat. Look up the Masai at the same site.

Then there are the Inuit, who eat (ate) a diet that is 75% fat. I can not find a source that shows the breakdown of seal fat, but they certainly ate more saturated fats than americans. The Inuit are not to be compared to americans, for example they have livers larger than ours and die by different diseases (they have, after all, pitiful intakes of phytochemicals, and excessive intakes of proteins), but it is certain that they are largely immune to the diseases of civilization. So, really, wherever you look in the world you find that saturated fat from natural sources does nothing bad to the human body. Hope this answers your query.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 28, 2013
at 10:45 PM

Whale and seal oil appear to be high omega-3 sources. http://www.wdcs.org/submissions_bin/trade_report_201006.pdf

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 29, 2013
at 03:06 AM

I would assume that seal fat is close to cold water fish fat in composition: roughly 20% saturated, 40% PUFA, 40% MUFA. 20% x 75% = 15% of their calories as saturated fat.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!