vegetable oilTag Archives

What are the healthy fats, really?

According to Catherine Shanahan MD in Deep Nutrition, eating damaged fats such as trans-fats and mega-trans-fats from damaged polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) encourages the storing of fat in the abdomen (omental fat) and under the chin. So if you’ve got fat there, it’s a sign that you need to change the type of fat you’re eating.

Avoid: hydrogenated fats (Crisco and margarine), vegetable oils, commercial salad dressings and mayonnaise, and anything fried in a restaurant since they likely use the wrong type of fat. NEVER cook with vegetable oil. This damages the PUFA in the oil, which in turn encourages oxidative damage of the cells.

Consume: olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and other animal fats. These fats contain mostly monounsaturated and saturated fats that are safe to cook with and protect cells against oxidative damage.

Healthy dietary fat is not something to be afraid of. Fat is a major component of the membrane of every cell of your body. Fat is needed for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins. Fat is needed for bone formation. Low-fat diets are associated with osteoporosis. Fat is also needed for healthy nerve function.

I can vouch for this last one since low-fat diets including NutriSystem followed as directed have led to depressive episodes that required medical intervention. These coincided with dangerously low cholesterol levels. Once I figured out that connection with the help of my psychiatrist, I understood that my weight-loss efforts could not be based on low-fat diets. That is why my modified NutriSystem plan is not low-fat.

How atherosclerosis develops

I continue to read Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan MD. According to Dr. Shanahan, the most dangerous foods are vegetable oils, sugars, and foods that convert to sugar during digestion. She gave an interesting description of how the two combine to create coronary artery disease. I’ve never seen it laid out quite the same before. It’s a very compelling description of the process if it’s true. It actually explains how the epithelial lining of the arteries becomes injured in the first place, which is something other explanations fail to do.

To sum it up, sugar in the bloodstream damages lipoproteins (HDL, LDL, VLDL). The lipoproteins, in turn, spill their loads into the bloodstream where it should not be. If that load contains mega-trans-fats from damaged vegetable oils (which happens when heat is applied, either during production or cooking), those fats cause oxidative damage to the fats in the membranes of the cells of the epithelial lining of the arteries, resulting in a literal burning of the cells. Gruesome! The body then attempts to repair that damage by sending cholesterol and white blood cells to the injured site. These repairs become the arterial plaques of atherosclerosis.

Looking at the USDA Dietary Guidelines

Today’s reading included a blog post by Denise Minger looking at USDA recommendations. The USDA recommends reducing saturated fat in the diet as well as reducing overall fat content. In their library of supporting documents, only one of the 12 studies cited actually supports these recommendations. The one study that does, a meta-analysis of studies, is later contradicted by a larger meta-analysis that shows no improvements. The first study is apparently confounded by publication bias. To further confound such studies, the USDA presented a pie chart showing where saturated fat in the American diet comes from. Grain-based desserts and pizza provide the largest portions of saturated fat in the American diet. But I just learned from the “Forks over Knives” post that China Study II positively correlates wheat with heart disease death and deaths from all medical causes. In fact, wheat correlates with heart disease better than any other food. Those grain-based desserts and pizza that we’re getting our saturated fat from have a lot of wheat in them. Meanwhile, animal protein and animal fat were negatively correlated in that study, meaning that death rates were lower. That’s an interesting finding from a scientist who promotes a vegan diet. So anything showing that saturated fat is harmful is likely confounded by the junkie carbohydrate and wheat intake that often accompanies the saturated fat. Furthermore, studies supporting increased intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils are confounded by the overall healthier habits of those consuming those oils. When the data are corrected for these healthy habits, the benefit of the vegetable oils disappears.

By the way, the cited USDA studies and also Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s results cited in “Forks over Knives” blog post would support my modifications to the NutriSystem diet for attempting to keep my cholesterol levels healthy. This further increases my optimism that I have made the right modifications. We’ll see when I get the results back from this coming Thursday’s blood draw.

As an interesting aside, the USDA was unable to be conclusive as to whether fruits and vegetables are actually good for you. They say further study is needed. Very interesting indeed! Results from China Study II would support the inclusion of green vegetables, at least, since they are negatively correlated to deaths from all medical causes. Fruit is positively correlated with deaths from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in that same study, though. Have I not said before that fruit poses problems due to the sugar content? That’s why I decided to eliminate fruit from my modified diet. There are better sources for the micronutrients fruits provide among the vegetables, and I do make sure to include those.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
Denise Minger. The New USDA Dietary Guidelines: Total Hogwash, and Here’s Why, Raw Food SOS.
Denise Minger. “Forks Over Knives”: Is the Science Legit? (A Review and Critique), Raw Food SOS.

Correcting fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease has been on the increase since the government advised a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet. It’s even being found in kids now.

Fructose consumption can be a factor in the development of fatty liver disease. Did you know that fructose is metabolized in the liver the same way as alcohol? I would be wary of fruit and anything made with added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

Have you heard of foie gras, the goose liver paté? It literally means “fat liver.” It is liver from a goose induced with fatty liver disease by force-feeding it grains, usually corn. So I would be wary of grains, too, if you want to reverse fatty liver disease.

I looked around online for information about fatty liver reversal. I found this blog entry by someone who reversed his fatty liver by eating a low-carb diet. And there’s this blog by someone else who also reversed his fatty liver with a low-carb diet (scroll down to the bottom of the post for the specifics of what was done). And this link quotes studies, including one showing that a low-carb diet is best for getting rid of liver fat. One commenter on the page cited vegetable oil as a potential contributor to fatty liver disease as well.

I’m sure there are more references out there.

Choosing dietary fats

Dietary fats are not all the same.  Some can be harmful while others are quite healthy. Some contribute to inflammation, some ease it.  Omega-3 in particular is noted for its anti-inflammatory properties.  I definitely would NOT recommend vegetable oil such as from soy or corn.  It contains too much omega-6 fat, which causes inflammation.  That type of fat will also suppress your immune system and contribute to cancer.  I don’t tend to eat much of those at all, unless I’m eating in a restaurant that prepares the food with vegetable oils.  I don’t use them at home.  Animal fat from pasture-raised meat and dairy, olive oil, and coconut oil don’t contain much omega-6, so they should all be fine.  In fact, these kinds of oils can help the immune system and protect against cancer.  The type of fats you choose will make a difference in weight as well.  Pig farmers tried using coconut oil to fatten their pigs.  It didn’t work.  The pigs stayed lean.  Then they switched to vegetable oil, and the pigs got fat.