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HealthWatch: Caveman Diet Makes Room For Saturated Fats

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - If you're trying to eat like a caveman on the Paleo Diet, meat –which is heavy in saturated fat- is on the menu. However, the consensus may be changing on how dangerous those fats are.

According to the modern Paleo movement, a little bit of "bad" fat can do a body "good," actually helping your triglyceride levels.

At a sold out symposium at UCLA, new findings on saturated fat wowed researchers, medical doctors and nutritionists from around the world.

"I don't think it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Loren Cordain, the godfather of the modern Ancestral health movement. Cordain has done a complete turnaround on saturated fats.

The science suggests that it's really the combination of saturated and unsaturated fats that makes the difference.

"I never met a saturated fat I didn't like," said Mark Sisson, author of "The Primal Blueprint."

Sisson eats good fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocado every day. But he also indulges frequently with saturated fats.

"I'm a huge fan of butter, whole cream, macadamia nuts and coconut oil. Stop me when you've had enough," said Sisson.

Experts believe our prehistoric ancestors ate a diet low in total fat – about half of what we eat today - and that they ate more polyunsaturated than saturated fats.

Dr. Cordain said the culprit behind heart disease is not saturated fat, but inflammation. And that inflammation is stoked by a modern diet - packed with processed foods, no fiber, and easy "carbs."

Very few nutritionists are going to tell you processed foods are healthful. As for saturated fat, University of California, San Francisco endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig doesn't exactly praise it.

"No it's not good for you, but it certainly is not bad for you. It just is," said Dr. Lustig, who likes the Paleo diet because saying it's rich in fiber, and low in carbohydrates. "I have nothing but good things to say about it."

The bottom line is that there's room for saturated fat, as long as you eat all those fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.

For more information on the Paleo Diet, see:

Paleolithic Nutrition: A consideration of Its Nature and Current Implications

S. Boyd Eaton, MD, and Melvin Konner, PhD

Paleolithic Nutrition: Twenty-Five Years Later

Melvin Konner, MD, PhD and S. Boyd Eaton, MD

(Copyright 2011 by CBS SF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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