Tag: saturatedfat

Unsaturated Fat is Good, Saturated Fat is Bad?

In high school, we were taught saturated fat is bad, mono-unsaturated fat is better, and polyunsaturated fat is the best for the heart.  Based on my experience when teaching high school biology under the Cambridge curriculum last year, this was still the case.  All the food shown on the featured image is considered unhealthy mainly because of their high saturated fat content.  How true is this?  After all, we were once taught that margarine is healthier than butter, fructose is healthier than sugar, non-dairy creamer is better than milk, and artificial sweeteners are good for you.  All of this was later proven to be false.

Every 100 gr of soybean oil contains 16 gr of saturated fat, 23 gr of mono-unsaturated fat, and 58 gr of polyunsaturated fat. Every 100 gr of coconut oil on the other hand contains a whooping 87 gr of saturated fat, 6 gr of mono-unsaturated fat, and a miniscule 1.8 gr of polyunsaturated fat. Hence if your high school biology text book is correct, then soybean oil is health food and coconut oil is junk food, right?

The Research

Researchers from University of California, Riverside recently conducted an experiment that split mice into four different groups. The first group was fed with only coconut oil (CO), the second group was fed a mix of coconut oil and soybean oil (CO-SO), the third group was fed with fructose and coconut oil (F-CO) and the last group was fed with a mix of fructose, coconut oil and soybean oil (F-CO-SO).  The total diet percentage of soybean oil and fructose was made to mimic the modern American diet.  The purpose of this mix is to investigate the effect of saturated vs unsaturated along with fructose on health.  The total fat consumption is 40% which is is quite large but not unnatural unlike what some researchers in Australia did by forcing rats to consume 80% fat.

The rats are monitored for significant increases in weight gain, adiposity, diabetes, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance among other things to see the effects of different diet mix on health.

The Result

The second group of mice (CO-SO) experienced weight gain, increased fat tissue, diabetes, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance compared to the first group of mice (CO). They also experienced fatty livers with hepatocyte ballooning and very large lipid droplets as well as shorter colonic crypt length.  The third group of mice (F-CO) did not experience as much obesity or diabetes as the second group, but experienced rectal prolapse and very fatty livers. Genetic markers for diabetes, obesity, inflammation and cancer all increased activity on the second group (SO-CO).  The healthiest group is the first (CO) while the worst off is the last group (F-SO-CO).

Conclusion

1. The Cake is a Lie

Basically all those theories taught at school was based on cherry picking data done to support certain industry agenda.  If the data doesn’t suit them, they would simply throw away the “bad” data.  In the past, reproducibility of a published research was simply not important, allowing these bad researchers to thrive.  There’s also the case like the Harvard researchers that was bribed by the sugar industry to promote more carbohydrate consumption.  Just because something is high in saturated fats, it doesn’t mean that it’s not healthy.  I’m talking about traditional foods such as eggs and cheese that has been misaligned for decades over their saturated fat content.  Of course I personally think cakes are still junk food due to their high content of highly refined carbohydrate.

2. This Is Strictly for Soybean and Coconut Oil

The scope of this research compares soybean oil and coconut oil (regular type, not extra organic virgin harvested from the mouth of an active volcano). It does not encourage you to consume 40% of your diet from oil as there is no study comparison on humans (not rats) with differing level of oil consumptions. It also does not say that saturated fat is better than unsaturated fat. 100 gr of olive oil contains 14 gr of saturated fat, 73 gr of monounsaturated fat 11 gr of polyunsaturated fat, and is still considered as health food despite its high smoke point (unsuitable for frying).  Simply said, food cannot be classified as healthy or not due only to their saturated fat content.

3. Natural Foods Are Better

The problem with highly refined foods is that it separates ingredients that are naturally meant to be consumed together. Just like how fruits are healthy but fruit juice are not.  Soybean oil can only be extracted from an industrial chemical process while coconut oil has been traditionally used societies across South and Southeast Asia for generations.  This is why the main ingredients of Magnus Breakfast Mix are whey protein that is a natural by-product of cheese processing and whole grain rolled oats.

Is Plant Protein Better than Animal Protein?

Many people avoid animal products for a variety of reasons including religion, empathy towards animals, or desire to be more environmental friendly. And it is perfectly acceptable for everyone to exercise their own personal conviction in this issue. What is unacceptable using false pretenses and fake science to push a certain agenda.

As an avid reader of Popular Science, I was quite intrigued when they recently publish an article stating that plant protein is healthier than animal protein. After all, any highschool biology student should know that there are 9 essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce. Amino Acids is the building blocks of protein used to build our muscles, joints and internal organ repair. All animal sourced protein contains all 9 essential amino acids while excluding soy, all plant derived protein do not have all 9 essential amino acids. Latest research indicated that children on a soy protein diet will develop abnormal secondary sexual organs. Another fact is that in comparative study between casein, soy and whey protein, soy simply came dead last in terms of efficiency in building muscle and strength. So what is the argument that plant protein is better than animal protein? Let us dwell deeper:

1. Plant Protein Has More Nutrients and Fiber

This is the first argument put forth by Popular Science. Interesting as the article writer agreed that plant based protein sources lacks Vitamin B complex, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Thiamine, and Niacin. Last time I checked, these are all considered nutrients. And if you order a grass fed rib eye meal set, it usually comes with a salad bowl appetizer and some more veggies on the side of the steak. Hence I consider this point to be invalid.

2. People Who Eat Plant Protein in Part Have Healthier Habits

No actual study was cited for this. It is simply a meta-study that does not factor in geography, demography or even smoking habits, all which are significant contributing factor. Let me explain why. In West Java, Indonesia, majority of the locals are vegans. Compared to Okinawa, Japan, majority of the locals consume seafood regularly. If we simply compare these two the meat eater will simply comes ahead. We can also compare the Dalit population in new Delhi, India, poorest of the poor, living in one of the most polluted city in the world and majority vegan with the Amish in Pennsylvania, USA, majority omnivore. Both population have no access to modern medicine. And the Amish population are far healthier. This is why controlling factors are very important. There was even a study that correlates being vegetarian with increased risk of getting colon cancer.

3. Meat Has More Saturated Fats

What kind of meat? What kind of saturated fats? And why is it necessarily bad? After all, many people believed that extra virgin coconut oil is healthy regardless the fact that its mostly made of saturated fat. I recently had a meal with a vegetarian friend that insisted we ate in a vegetarian restaurant. Most of the food were rich in refined carbohydrate or deep fried. Unlike saturated fats in which there is still ongoing debate how some of the naturally sourced saturated fat are healthy, all dietitians now agreed that refined carbohydrate and deep fried food are bad for you. What is statistically proven in USA is that animal fat consumption is not correlated with heart attack.

4. Processed Red Meat is Carcinogenic

So what about non-processed red meat, i.e. medium rare, grass fed rib eye steak? The WHO classified processed meat as being carcinogenic due to increased risk of getting cancer in their study. What is most often not mentioned is the actual percentage of risk increase of eating processed red meat and what it all meant. And the answer is 0.0072% if you belong to the high risk population bracket. The risk of getting hit by a lightning is 0.0083%, which means you have higher chance of getting hit by a lightning.

Conclusion

When it comes to the diet and nutrition world, always maintain a healthy skepticism. When it said “research shows”, always try to find the source research, how it was done, who done it, and how it was funded. Fact is, nutrition industry is just like the cosmetic industry, mostly using “in house research” that was never proven objectively. And if you are a meat eater, just have a balanced diet to stay healthy!

The Cholesterol Myth and The Great Global Diet Fraud (3 out of 10)

Congratulations dear reader for persevering  to the third installment of the series. At this point you might be asking if all that I am writing here is true, then how come most DOCTORS don’t even know about it? Well, the problem is that we are dealing with a very strong and entrenched interest coalition of pharmaceutical and consumer goods companies no different than eight decades ago where smoking was considered “healthy” and it took several decade  worth of long and hard fight by dedicated individuals before we arrived at the present enlightenment stage on smoking.

smoking_01

Doctors aren’t always the best source of medical knowledge

Second point is that most doctors are busy too, such that they would most of the time even rely on pharmaceutical sales people to teach them about the newest medicine. And lets get it straight, reading the raw data of any medical research and applying your own analysis is a lot of work compared to say… just reading the conclusion, which might differ depending on who is making the conclusion.

Last but not least. We are now already at the end of an era where the “Diet Heart” interest group is slowly starting to die. More and more people, even some of the major actors in the healthcare business like LG are starting to move towards the truth that saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease. Even the US dietary guideline is finally starting the acknowledge the importance of saturated fat in our diet. You can read about it via the Harvard publication on latest dietary guideline and CNN version of dietary guideline.

I try my best to present you with links that will give you the original data of the studies mentioned in Dr. Uffe Ravnskov‘s book. This will give you the opportunity to make your own analysis based on data provided by reliable third party such as US National Institute of Health and leading universities. However, as not all these data are available on public domain, hence some would come from reputable sources that does not include the raw data itself.

So, without further ado, we will now move on to the next myth

“Myth 3: High Fat Foods Raise Blood Cholesterol”

Now before we move on, allow me to introduce you to a chart that relates this myth with the previous two myths:

chart1

As I have shown in the first article, there is simply no relation between US animal fat consumption level with deaths from heart disease over the past century. Myth 2 has also been busted on the second article and now we are on to myth 3.

The “Diet Heart” myth is basically joined at the hip with Dr. Ancel Keys credibility. He is the proponent of the seven country study published in 1958 regarding the fat percentage of local diet in various countries vs. the mean serum cholesterol level. The data points fell on a straight line, showing very positive correlation. However, in Dr. Ravsnov’s book, he pointed to other countries Dr. Keys also collected data from but deliberately omitted from the study in which had in included them, would fall very far away from the correlation line. Furthermore, CHD death rates among subjects in Finland, Greece and Yugoslavia with similar serum cholesterol levels varied five fold depending on which area of the country they lived in. I.e. although the people in Finland on average eat the same diet, different areas within Finland would have different average Cholesterol level as if the food doesn’t really matter.

Four studies in the US, one in the UK, one in Israel and one in Finland failed to show any correlation between diet and serum cholesterol levels.

 A different study mentioned in US NIH even showed that if you completely take out the saturated fat from the diet and replace it with carbohydrate, the cholesterol level remained the same. The study was done at Maastricht University in Netherlands, published in 2003 focusing on effects of dietary fat and carb consumption on your blood HDL, cholesterol and serum lipids. While yet another study showing no correlation between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease. This study was done at Oakland Research Institute in California regarding the association of saturated fat with heart disease, published in 2010. In the book, Dr. Ravsnov tried to eat various number of eggs per day (from 0 to 8) and found no direct correlation with his cholesterol level and one study even had an 88 year old patient eating 25 eggs a day with no effect on his cholesterol level. This study was done by Dr. Fred Kern from University of Colorado School of Medicine published by New England Journal of Medicine in 1991. Need more research to convince you? I suggest you read this blog from Stephan Guyenet, an obesity researcher and neurobilologist, PhD from University of Washington. Which brings the question, if cholesterol level is so important, can you really change it by changing your diet?