Saturday, March 9, 2019

Retrospective #21: The Dangers of Polyunsaturated Fats

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) was founded in 1999.  It is named after a dentist who in the 1920s and 30s did pioneering research and in 1939 published “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration,” an epic study demonstrating the importance of whole food nutrition. WAPF Founder and President Sally Fallon and Board Member Emeritus Mary Enig, PhD, (deceased since this column first appeared in 2011), collaborated in 2000 to produce a paper “The Skinny on Fats.” Please Google “The Skinny on Fats, WAPF” and read the full article. Here, I will just reproduce an excerpt on “The Dangers of Polyunsaturates,” from their book, “Nourishing Traditions.” The footnote citations are in the full article.
“The public has been fed a great deal of misinformation about the relative virtues of saturated fats versus polyun-saturated oils. Politically correct dietary gurus tell us that the polyunsaturated oils are good for us and that the saturated fats cause cancer and heart disease. The result is that fundamental changes have occurred in the Western diet.
At the turn of the century, most of the fatty acids in the diet were either saturated or monounsaturated, primarily from butter, lard, tallows, coconut oil and small amounts of olive oil. Today most of the fats in the diet are polyunsaturated from vegetable oils derived mostly from soy, as well as from corn, safflower and canola.
Modern diets can contain as much as 30% of calories as polyunsaturated oils, but scientific research indicates that this amount is far too high. The best evidence indicates that our intake of polyunsaturates should not be much greater than 4% of the caloric total, in approximate proportions of 2 % omega-3 linolenic acid and 2 % omega-6 linoleic acid. 30
EFA [essential fatty acid, i.e. omega 3 and omega 6] consumption in this range is found in native populations in temperate and tropical regions whose intake of polyunsaturated oils comes from the small amounts found in legumes, grains, nuts, green vegetables, fish, olive oil and animal fats but not from commercial vegetable oils.
Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs; digestive disorders; depressed learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain. 31
One reason the polyunsaturates cause so many health problems is that they tend to become oxidized or rancid when subjected to heat, oxygen and moisture as in cooking and processing. Rancid oils are characterized by free radicals-- that is, single atoms or clusters with an unpaired electron. These compounds are extremely reactive chemically.They have been characterized as "marauders" in the body for they attack cell membranes and red blood cells and cause damage in DNA/RNA strands, thus triggering mutations in tissue, blood vessels and skin. Free radical damage to the skin causes wrinkles and premature aging; free radical damage to the tissues and organs sets the stage for tumors; free radical damage in the blood vessels initiates the buildup of plaque.
Is it any wonder that tests and studies have repeatedly shown a high correlation between cancer and heart disease with the consumption of polyunsaturates? 32 New evidence links exposure to free radicals with premature aging, with auto-immune diseases such as arthritis and with Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, Alzheimer's and cataracts.” 33
When I first read this article, I went into our kitchen cabinets and, with my wife’s permission, threw out all the polyunsaturated vegetable oils. I then went to The Weston A. Price Foundation website, became a member, bought the “Nourishing Traditions” cookbook, and, thereafter, cooked only with saturated and monounsaturated fats. Are you prepared to do the same? If you’re not there yet, Google “The Skinny of Fats” and read it. That might do the trick.
Postlude: Since 1953 we as a population have been told to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol and to exercise more, and we have complied; yet, we as a population have been getting fatter and sicker. I began The Nutrition Debate as a forum to discuss how this came to be. If you’ve been following this blog, and the daily Retrospective series I began 3 weeks ago, you already know that I believe we have been led“down “the garden path” by bad advice. If you haven’t read them, you can just scroll down (on blogger or twitter) or, on Face Book, click on my name and search for the Retrospective series. You’re also invited to come back, as there will be 480 more daily posts in the Retrospective Series.

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