Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Nutrition Debate #42: “Unsafe Fats” – probably not what you think.

While reading on the net today, an ad for “Beyond Diet” broke the text with a banner that read, “5 Foods to NEVER Eat.” It worked. I clicked to see if they were “dead wrong.” They were not. To my surprise, they had it “right;” that is, they were espousing the same message that I advocate here and at danbrown-thenutritiondebate: Avoid sugar and most non whole-food starches, specifically processed and refined “foods” that are sold in boxes and bags; and avoid gluten grains and vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fats), especially the grain and seed oils that are hydrogenated, oxidized, overheated or used over and over in cooking.

Instead, eat “real food,” whole foods, including animal products (meats and eggs that contain saturated fat), and eat monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado. “Beyond Diet” did have the “right” message. That was refreshing and gave me encouragement. The “unsafe” fats are the polyunsaturated fats – the vegetable and seed oils: corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, Canola oil, and others. The “safe” fats are the monounsaturated and saturated fats.

The most common monounsaturated fat is olive oil. Avocado, which I occasionally have for lunch (for a change from my daily can of sardines in olive oil), is high in monounsaturated fats. I eat it with my homemade vinaigrette dressing in the pit cavity and real crumbled and peppered bacon pieces (Hormel) added on top for protein. And no dirty dishes!

Most animal products are combinations of protein and fat with some surprisingly high in monounsaturated fats (e.g. pork at 44%). The saturated fat gives it the flavor we like. I eat full fat meats, poultry and fish. I prefer the fatty cuts: bone-in cuts, mutton and lamb chops, and baby-back ribs rubbed and roasted. I also eat salmon and tuna and dark meat chicken - skin on. Chicken skin is mostly unsaturated fat, by the way, according to the doyenne of lipid biochemistry (dietary fats) Mary Enig, Ph.D. She fought to have trans fats acknowledged as unhealthy beginning in 1978 shortly after reading the 1977 McGovern Commission report. I credit her with the victory in the FDA’s 2003 edict requiring trans fats to be listed separately on the Nutrition Facts Panel on processed foods. It’s working. Blood levels of trans fats declined 58% between 2000 and 2009, according to a CDC research letter published in JAMA and reported in the February 8th New York Times.

You can read Dr. Enig’s story in The Oiling of America. Other articles with co-author Sally Fallon, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, “The Skinny on Fats” and “The Truth About Saturated Fats,” are also both great reads. In addition, they wrote, “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.” These resources explain why polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils) are unsafe. You should read at least one.

The Weston A. Price Foundation website itself is a major resource declaiming “industrial foods” and advocating for nutrient dense whole foods. In a video Sally Fallon points out that these foods contain the critical fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2 which are found exclusively in seafood, organ meats and animal fats of grass fed animals. Foods such as butter, egg yolks, whole raw milk, full fat cheese and liver are the basis of good health, she says. WAPF membership, which includes a quarterly newsletter and an annual buyer’s guide, is only $40 ($25 for seniors). I highly recommend it.

The diet-heart or lipid hypothesis is lamentable, indeed a tragedy of world-wide proportions. Beginning in the 1960s, Ancel Keys and the American Heart Association, and later the Government’s public health establishment itself, beginning with the 1977 McGovern Commission and then the 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, have been swept up in this horribly flawed movement. The Standard American Diet (ironically the SAD) is becoming (has become) the Western Diet, with the result that as populations world-wide adopt it, they are falling prey to all the modern Diseases of Civilization.

This movement has been aided and abetted by modern agribusiness and the industrial food manufacturing sector. Look around you. The only field crops are corn and increasingly soybeans, and corn oil and soybean oil are the leading “unsafe fats.” The best oil is an imported foreign oil (olive oil, or were you thinking Saudi crude?). Whatever happened to beef tallow or lard? Butter is one of the very best foods, yet we forsook it for trans-fat laden margarine. Whole eggs are a nearly perfect food, yet, when we have eggs, we use Egg Beaters or All Whites. Why are we doing this to ourselves?

The Beyond Diet program (where we began this column) is selling a product, of course, but they have the right message. I hope they succeed, and I hope you continue reading this column. Next week: “Paula Deen, Lessons Learned.”

© Dan Brown 2/26/12

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