The Debate on Dietary Saturated Fat Continues

 Fat  Comments Off on The Debate on Dietary Saturated Fat Continues
Mar 182014

Ever since Ancel Keys started the epidemiological longitudinal “Seven Countries Study” in 1958, there’s been debate about the role of saturated fats on coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Keys’ study showed a strong relationship between dietary saturated fat and heart disease – that is, the more saturated fat people ate, the higher the rate of heart disease.

One criticism of the “Seven Countries study” is that other factors, including cigarette smoking and lack of physical activity, could be responsible for the higher rates of heart disease. But medical professionals and drug companies believe saturated fats are the true villain.  The dissenters of the saturated fat CHD theory have been ignored and silenced. But an increasing number of dissenting researchers are expressing their belief that saturated fats are not linked to CHD.

Yesterday, the meta-analysis report “Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk” was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Meta-analysis is a statistical method of combining results from different studies. The basic conclusion of this study from the University of Cambridge is that “current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.”

A senior author of the study, Dr. Emanuele Di Angelantonio, states that there’s no strong evidence to justify current cardiovascular guidelines concerning saturated fats, and there’s a need for further studies to explore this issue, according to Medscape.

There are a few criticisms of this new study. Dr. Eric B. Rimm of Harvard stated in the Medscape article, “CV Risk and Saturated Fats: The Debate Roils On,” that there’s a serious mistake in the study’s review of polyunsaturated fatty acids that will change the results of the study substantially. He also stated that the study’s conclusion about saturated fat has no context, because it compared heart disease risk of eating saturated fats with eating white bread – in other words, saturated fat consumption is no better or worse than eating white bread. Low-fiber carbs like white bread are now known to spike blood sugar and increase risks of CVD.

And Medscape states another criticism by Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein of Tufts University – “The majority of the evidence suggests that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces heart disease risk, whereas replacing saturated fat with carbohydrate does not. This new study only assessed one factor, an indicator of dietary fat, and not the whole picture, making the conclusions questionable.”

Dr. Di Angelantonio, however, believes these errors are minor, and doesn’t change the basic conclusion of the study.

In the WebMD article, “Fats and heart disease: Guidelines questioned,” the medical director of the British Heart Foundation, Professor Jeremy Pearson, states “This analysis of existing data suggests there isn’t enough evidence to say that a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats but low in saturated fats reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. But large scale clinical studies are needed, as these researchers recommend, before making a conclusive judgement. Alongside taking any necessary medication, the best way to stay heart healthy is to stop smoking, stay active, and ensure our whole diet is healthy – and this means considering not only the fats in our diet but also our intake of salt, sugar and fruit and vegetables.”

This isn’t the first meta-analysis to make this conclusion about saturated fats. In a March 2010 report, the conclusion stated that there is no significant evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

In addition to the “Seven Countries Study,” however, the “Nurses’ Health Study” and the “Health Professionals Follow-up Study” show women who eat more unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats have fewer heart problems.

Based on my own experience and research, this is what I believe to be heart healthy. Cultures that experience long and healthy lives have these things in common:

  • They eat a lot of high-fiber fruits and vegetables
  • They eat meat rarely. It’s reported that the people of the Greek island Ikaria eat only four servings of meat a month. Many Americans eat that much in a day.
  • When they do eat meat or dairy, it’s from animals who freely graze on wild grasses
  • Water is the primary fluid they drink with a modest amount of red wine
  • They eat a lot of nuts and seeds
  • They eat a lot of legumes
  • They use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • They use raw, wild honey as an occasional sweetener
  • They stay physically active
  • And they’re not overweight

Let the scientist argue. If you follow the example of people who live healthy and long like the people of Ikaria, you too can increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.

Improve Your Brain Function with a Reduction in Belly Fat

 Alzheimer's, Brain Health, Fat  Comments Off on Improve Your Brain Function with a Reduction in Belly Fat
Mar 052014

You can improve your brain function with a reduction of belly fat, and you can reduce your belly fat by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, according to two new studies.

Belly, visceral, fat is associated with increased risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Now researchers at the Georgia Regents University say that visceral fat also leads to destruction of the communication links between brain cells. And your brain function capability decreases as the connections or synapses between your brain cells decrease.

Apparently, your immune system considers belly fat a chronic invader that must be attacked. A large amount of belly fat keeps inflammation high, and allows the proteins that regulate inflammation to enter your brain. Once in your brain, these immune response protein regulators allow disease destroying cells, microglia, to start destroying the synapses between your brain cells. With less synapses comes less brain function capabilities.

This is why a large amount of belly fat triples your risks of “mild cognitive impairment as well as Alzheimer’s.”

The researchers stress that a reduction in belly fat responds well to aerobic exercise. And exercise is the best strategy for reducing your visceral or abdominal fat.

A second research report states that the type of fat you eat influences that amount of belly fat you develop.

Saturated fat leads to less muscle mass and more belly fat, compared to consumption of unsaturated fats, say researchers at Sweden’s Uppsala University.

The researchers used palm oil as the saturated fat, and sunflower oil as the polyunsaturated fat in their study of 39 men and women. The group of participants eating the saturated fat experienced a substantial increase in liver and abdominal fat, and a reduction in muscle mass. This is in comparison to the group who ate the unsaturated fat.

It appears that saturated fats “turn on” our genes that increase development of visceral or belly fat. And unsaturated fats “turn on” our genes that reduce storage of belly fat and increase sugar metabolism.

New research indicates belly fat decreases our brain function by the destruction of synapses between our brain cells. We can improve our cognitive abilities by reducing the amount of belly fat. This is a result of the reduction in body wide inflammation caused by the visceral fat. And we can reduce our belly fat with aerobic exercise and diet. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in our diet reduces the amount of belly fat, and increases our metabolism of blood sugar.

Get rid of your belly fat, and increase your brain’s capabilities. And you can get rid of that belly fat with aerobic exercise and unsaturated fats in your diet. So, stop eating all that red meat, butter and palm oil, and start eating more unsaturated plant oils and cold water fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, Herring and tuna.

Food Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

 Alzheimer's, Diet, Fat  Comments Off on Food Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Dec 302013

A research report titled “The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids” highlights the benefits of increasing our Omega-3 fatty acid consumption. It states a 4 to 1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality risks. It further states a 2.5 to 1 ratio reduced colorectal cancer cell proliferation. Unfortunately, the western diet’s ratio is closer to 15 to 1, which means we need more Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet.

What are some of the food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids?

I listed below some of the common foods that have an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 4 or less, which indicates that they have a healthy amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. They are:

All the foods listed above are part of a Mediterranean type of diet, which research has shown to substantially decrease the risks of heart disease, cancers and dementia.

The western lifestyle is riddled with increased risks of heart disease, cancers and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. One of the reasons may be our low consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. We can improve our overall health by consuming more foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids. These include scallops, tuna, crab, shrimp, oyster, herring, spinach, cauliflower, salmon, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, Romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, kidney beans, broccoli, collard greens, kale, black bean, canola oil, sardines, onion, lentils and walnuts.

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New Study Suggests Full-Fat Organic Dairy May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

 Diet, Fat, Heart Health  Comments Off on New Study Suggests Full-Fat Organic Dairy May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Dec 122013

A new study published in PLOS One, Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition, reports organic milk has a substantial and healthier omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio than regular milk. The reason is that organically raised cows eat more omega-3 rich grasses than conventional cows that are fed mostly corn based feeds.

Recent indications are that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable sources like corn and safflower have a “higher risk of death from all causes, as well as from cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease,” compared to an average diet, according to a BMJ article, Study Raises Questions About Dietary Fats and Heart Disease Guidance. Time magazine also reported a similar finding in their article, Omega-6 Fats Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Disease.

That’s why researchers are trying to find foods that have a higher omega-3 fat content. Whole milk has been identified as a food that increases the risk of heart disease due to its high saturated fat content. This new study, however, is suggesting that organic whole milk may be heart healthy. It suggests that the higher omega-3 content of organic whole milk offsets the bad effects of the saturated fats.

The Los Angeles Times has quoted the lead author of the new study, Charles Benbrook, in their report, Organic Whole Milk Provides Best Heart-Health Benefits, as stating that “Consumers are going to get the full measure of this benefit in organic milk if they buy whole milk.” He suggests that organic whole milk can help reduce the risk of heart disease with a more healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

The problem with reduced fat or fat free organic milk is that some of the healthy omega-3 fats are also removed along with the saturated fats. To get the full benefit of the increased levels of omega-3 fats in organic milk, you have to drink the full fat version.

The study looked at organic milk from the Organic Valley brand. Milk was selected from 14 commercial milk processors from 7 U.S. regions – Northwest region, California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast regions. They analyzed samples from each processor once a month for 18 months.

If you still prefer vegetable sources of omega-3 fats, your best choices are ground flax seed and chia seeds. Walnuts, soy foods, pumpkin seeds and canola also are good sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Cleveland Clinic, Plant Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Good animal sources include the cold water ocean fish like sardines, salmon, herring and tuna. If you’re a milk lover, you should now consider drinking organic whole milk to get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

If you drink milk, this new study suggests you consider switching to organic full fat milk to receive heart health benefits of an increased level of omega-3 fatty acids. Other animal sources of omega-3 fats are cold water ocean fish. You can also get large amounts of these healthy fats from vegetable sources like ground flax seeds and chia seeds along with walnuts, soy foods, pumpkin seeds and canola. Whatever source you choose, it’s best to increase your omega-3 intake to offset the negative health effects of omega-6 fatty acids.

A hidden conclusion of this study is that you may not be eating a heart healthy diet by unselectively choosing vegetable source fats. If the fats that you’re consuming have an unhealthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, you may be risking an increased risk of heart disease. To offset the negative health effects of omega-6 fats, you need to include good sources of omega-3 fats. If you’re drinking milk, organic whole milk may be better for you than regular low fat milk.

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How To Lose Belly Fat With Simple Dietary Changes

 Diet, Fat  Comments Off on How To Lose Belly Fat With Simple Dietary Changes
Jun 042013

Research shows that you can reduce belly fat with soluble fiber and canola oil.

A study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten each day can reduce belly fat by 3.7% over a 5 year period. Another study reported by the American Heart Association shows that canola oil reduced belly fat by 1.6% in just 4 weeks.

Belly fat is also known as visceral fat. Visceral fat is associated with a high risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver, gallbladder problems, high blood pressure and some cancers. It is the fat located deep in your abdominal cavity and surrounds vital organs. People with large amounts of visceral fat have a pear shape or beer belly physique, which is associated with serious health problems.

If you have an above normal amount of belly fat, you should change your lifestyle to increase your chances of having a long and healthy life.

What is Soluble Fiber?

Soluble fiber is a healthy dietary fiber which dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. This gelatinous fiber prevents cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream and removes it in your solid waste. Scientists are not sure how it prevents visceral fat formation or how it reduces belly fat. But the evidence is clear that a diet high in soluble fiber does reduce belly fat.

Some good food sources of soluble fiber include oats, peas, dried beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots and psyllium.

What is Canola Oil?

The Mayo Clinic states that canola oil is a vegetable based oil from the canola plant. The canola plant was developed through crossbreeding with the rapeseed plant. The reason for the crossbreeding is to reduce the amount of erucic acid in the oil to very low levels. Erucic acid in large amounts is toxic to humans. Canola oil is safe for human consumption. And with this new research results, it is a good choice for losing belly fat.

Abnormal amounts of belly or visceral fat can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver, high blood pressure and some cancers. New research shows that we can reduce our risk of these diseases with simple dietary changes. By increasing our consumption of soluble fiber and the use of canola oil, we can easily reduce our belly fat and improve our overall health.

How Do You Know Your Extra Virgin Olive Oil Is Really Extra Virgin?

 Fat, Uncategorized  Comments Off on How Do You Know Your Extra Virgin Olive Oil Is Really Extra Virgin?
Mar 282013

Extra virgin olive oil typically sells at premium prices. With humans being human, it’s natural that some will sell lower grade olive oil at those premium prices to make as much profit as possible. All they have to do is call their lower grade oils extra virgin, and then charge those higher prices. Who’s going to know?

Well, at least 70% of extra virgin olive oil samples sold in California grocery stores don’t meet the international standards for extra virgin, according to a report by the Davis Campus of the University of California (UC Davis). This is their conclusion after analyzing 52 samples of 15 brands of extra virgin olive oil in 2011.

If you buy extra virgin olive oil based on price, like many of us do, you’re probably not getting the health benefits of extra virgin oil. You’re actually paying a high price for an inferior and perhaps an unhealthy oil.

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Extra virgin olive oil is the first, cold press of the olives. It’s mechanically extracted without the use of chemical solvents. Extra virgin also meets the highest standards of chemical quality. Cold press means that the oil has not been exposed to high temperatures.

If the first press oils don’t meet certain quality standards, it is then called virgin oil.

Additional presses of the olives yield additional lower quality oil. The last remaining oil extracted by heat and chemical solvents is a very low grade of oil called pomace oil.

Fraud occurs when sellers sell the virgin or pomace oils as extra virgin.

Why is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Healthier?

Extra virgin olive oil contains the highest quantity of a class of healthy antioxidants called polyphenols. The other grades of oil contain substantially lower amounts of these antioxidants.

How Do You Know That You’re Actually Getting Extra Virgin?

Your best bet is to look for either the COOC (California Olive Oil Council) or IOC (International Olive Council) marks on the label. The COOC gives their mark to high quality extra virgin olive oils from California, and the IOC from the European Union countries. Without these marks, it’s likely that you’re buying lower quality oils.

You should also consider buying oils in dark colored glass bottles, since light quickly degrades these oils.


It’s likely that over 70% of extra virgin olive oils sold in the United States don’t meet international standards for extra virgin. Large profits of selling lower grade oils at premium prices is just too tempting, especially when there are no government agencies checking olive oil quality.

The best way to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality extra virgin olive oil is to look for either the COOC or IOC mark on the label. You should also buy olive oil in dark colored bottles to insure the least amount of light degradation.

Other Sources:

WebMD: Olive Oil Buyer’s Guide
Apollo Olive Oil: Frequently Asked Questions
Recipe Labs: What’s the difference between extra-virgin and virgin olive oil?