What the Hell Should We Eat? Natural Fats Should Be Fine!

I recently found myself reading the article “If the Low-Fat Diet Is a Lie, What the Hell Should We Eat?” located on Elle’s website. I thought the author Jane Black did a terrific job illustrating the frustration the average consumer has on this conflicting information. I enjoyed the background information on where we were and where we are today. It was a very informational and well balanced article. 

I placed a comment on Elle’s site to share my thoughts regarding fat and the part of the article about how we knew “low-fat” meant more vegetables and not snack-wells. My comment is at the bottom of this post.

Firstly, the USDA has dropped Total Fat (TF) recommendations in the general verbiage (That lame chart in Appendix E-37 Table 4 leaves much more to be desired though) of the latest Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee (DGAC) report located here. I welcome this because it was ridiculous to limit fat in the first place as fat was not the problem as some have been arguing this for decades. Dr. Katz recommends we focus on “themes of healthy eating: diets that center on minimally processed foods and lots of fruit and vegetables. ‘We need to focus on foods and forget about the nutrients,'”.

I completely agree with him on this. I will take that one step further and say that Natural Fats (NFs), which include Saturated Fatty Acids (SFAs) that are also minimally processed, belong in this healthy eating theme. Let all minimally processed foods be fair game and the let the individual’s situation dictate what they need to do. I’m not the “no-carbs” guy, the “all-carbs”, “no-meat” or “all-meat” guy. We all have different dietary requirements and it is wise to not try and replace one dogma with another. The universal theme across all popular heritage, traditional and modern diets that revolve around real food: more real food (to include minimally processed food) and less (to no) processed refined garbage with added sugars, oils, fats, chemicals, etc. The individual variance in the diet is related to heritage, genes and personal preference; nearly all limit what you’d find beyond the perimeter of the grocery store.

Let the macronutrient ratio of the diet become unimportant so long as it provides the necessary nutriment to the person ingesting the diet. The American Nutritional Forefather W.O. Atwater (Also worked at the USDA) stated “the most healthful food is that which is best fitted to the needs of the user”. Let those who wish to restrict fat, meat, carbs, dairy, wheat, etc. do so as long as they acquire the nutriment they need.

Here is the comment I posted on the Elle website:

A lot of the promotion of foods containing saturated fat is completely aligned with what Katz stated. We are promoting real food. Natural saturated fats (Note that there are many types of Saturated Fat) are real food and fit into a healthy dietary pattern. We are being told, “No, you can’t say that SFA is OK. You need to focus on foods and forget about the nutrients. No, not that real food, that has Saturated Fat, are you insane!”. WTF??? According to the USDA’s Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee (DGAC) report “In the United States, the top sources of foods contributing to saturated fat intake are mixed dishes, particularly burgers and sandwiches, and snacks and sweets”. You can’t blame the impact of the highly refined mixed food on ones health on the Saturated Fat that was present in the product. To me, that is not different than saying vegetables are unhealthy because they are in supreme pizza.

I disagree very strongly that everyone knew that “low-fat” meant less fat and more vegetables. That is BS in my opinion. Look at the bottom of the food pyramid and tell me they (The government) really meant more vegetables. Detach your profession from this and imagine you are the consumer. Luise Light’s recommendations to the USDA meant more vegetables (5-9srv) and less grain (2-3srv), her bosses decided that more grains were needed for all instead (6-11srv). Tell me where the healthy vegetables are in the 6-11 servings of grains we were told to eat per day. Be mindful that we were not told to eat whole grain, we were told to eat grain. Even in the earlier guidelines it was clear that grain should be consumed. The grain recommended was not whole grain. Sure, the professionals that do this for a living might have knew whole grain and more vegetables, but the whole system did a shitty job of communicating that to the consumer. Then again, Cocoa Puffs had the heart check logo and I can’t find that shit on a bag of carrots. The AHA must want us to eat more vegetables too.

Look at this post which outlines the various dietary guideline releases: http://www.dietarydogma.com/historical-view-obesity-dietary-guidelines/

Thanks for your time and have a nice day.

So, what are your thoughts?

AHA and USDA Websites Have A Few Fatty Surprises

The past few nights I’ve been conducting targeted search queries on Google aimed against specific websites looking for topics of interest related to the Great Fat Debate.

One of the things I stumbled on was a presentation titled an “Overview of the food science behind fatty acid technology” which is found on heart.org at the following location.

I found the brief extremely informative, yet disturbing. The brief is attached at the bottom of this if you would like to take a gander.

From the functions of Palmitic Acid (palm oil, tallow, butter, cheese, milk) slide, it is labeled as a saturated fat which is very stable in storage and frying. It lists the functions which it provides to foods and then states “BUT, ↑ LDL-cholesterol, ↑ heart disease”. It decides to make no mention of the fact that this fatty acid also raises HDL cholesterol. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, saturated fatty acids (SFAs) raise both, HDL and LDL. Of particular importance is the fact that the SFA results in an increased LDL particle size. Research has shown that the small dense LDL particles are the ones which are atherogenic and contribute most to atherosclerosis.

The next slide discusses the saturated fat Stearic Acid (tallow, cocoa butter, animal fats, etc. ). The functions include very stable storage and frying, cooking uses (form margarines and shortenings, spreads, creaming for baked products) and then lists “Neutral health benefits”. That is right, no increase in heart disease, merely “Neutral health benefits”. It is worth mentioning again that this slide-deck is present on the American Heart Association’s website. I observed the same thing for Stearic Acid on the USDA’s site last night. During a review of the 2013 Annual Report for Research Project “MACRO- AND MICRONUTRIENT MODULATION OF BIOMARKERS OF CHRONIC DISEASE AND INDICATORS OF NUTRITIONAL ADEQUACY”, it stated the following:

Evidence suggests that stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid, effects LDL cholesterol differently than other saturated fatty acids – consumption of stearic acid does not increase LDL cholesterol whereas consumption of other saturated fatty acids typically raises LDL cholesterol. Since stearic acid does not raise LDL cholesterol, its use as an alternative for trans fatty acids in foods is possible since stearic acid can provide some of the same functional properties as trans fatty acids without the negative effect on LDL cholesterol.

Of course they are off-base a tad by not addressing LDL particles and putting so much into the impact on LDL being so important. On the other hand, the food-makers need to find a way to show that this is “healthy” so they can use it in food production. Without a solid fat, a lot of the products today would be a mess or an even worse freak of nature.

Getting back to the subject at hand though, the next slide goes into the awesomeness that is monounsaturated fats (oleic acid). It is stable (not very stable like saturated fats) has very limited function in foods as it is liquid at room temperature and says it has neutral to positive effect on health “↑ HDL cholesterol (good), ↓ LDL-cholesterol”. Notice in this case how monounsaturated is specifically mentioned as raising “good” HDL though several SFAs raise HDL cholesterol even more.

The last slide I will cover more in depth is the Polyunsaturated Fat slide. Here is the fat they tout as the one that will save us all, yet its functions in food are minimal (liquid at room temperature) and they admit it is “unstable in storage and frying”. Linoleic is listed as a small amount being OK for flavor and Linolenic being the main source for off-flavors and rancidity. Yum, it sounds like we should be eating more of that. It also states that it lowers, total and LDL cholesterol while raising HDL which jives with current dietary guidance.

The brief is very interesting and goes into Trans Fats, Interesterification (The chemical version is scary shit) and the targets for different food products (salad, cooking oil, frying, margarines and shortening).

Bottom line, we produce too much oil not to use it. That is the reason that adulteration of lard starting occurring back in the late 1800’s. It lowered the price of lard and gave us something to do with the cottonseed oil we were producing. Another slide-show on the American Heart Association website titled “Processing and Stable Oils” from 2006, shows the following chart:

U.S. Usage of Edible Vegetable Oils 2004-2005

U.S. Usage of Edible Vegetable Oils 2004-2005

As long as we continue to produce this much vegetable oil, we will always be told that polyunsaturated fat is “healthy” for us because it not being good for us equates to an “unhealthy” economy.

Overview of the food science behind fatty acid technology
Processing and Stable Oils – 2006
Interesterification – Scary Shit Slide from Processing and Stable Oils brief

Your Assignment!

Our current Dietary Guidelines need to be completely overhauled. Due to the influence of big business, our guidelines have become vague and ambiguous instead of providing the straight answers we need in order to make informed dietary decisions.

The USDA subsidizes and promotes our agricultural products and should not also be responsible for providing our dietary recommendations. They also should not host the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) used to provide the research to the panel that provides the USDA/HHS dietary guideline recommendations.

Our recommendations should come from an agency (or a non-governmental panel of scientific experts) rooted in the scientific community, human biochemistry, clinical research and evidence. Our recommendations should not come from deep-rooted industry ties and campaign contributions.

Your ASSIGNMENT is to Share this, Tweet this, Digg, this Pin this, Plus this or whatever other “this” there is to do socially!

Most importantly, please take 2 minutes to register on the White House website and sign both of the petitions below! We really need everyone’s help in order to reach 100K signatures on these petitions by next month (03-11-2014 and 03-20-2014).

You can, and will, help us make a difference! Thank you.



More Info:

Historical View of Obesity and Dietary Guidelines

I put this handy graphic together to show the increased recommendation of grain and decreased recommendation of fat vs. the overall increase of obesity in this country. The guideline graphics are from the USDA site and the graph is from the CDC website.

To sign the #USDAPetition you can go here: http://wh.gov/lnK4u

Obesity and Dietary Guidelines

Historical view of rise in obesity and changes to USDA dietary guidelines

Meet Luise Light

It should be noted that I first learned of Luise Light while reading “Death by Food Pyramid” by Denise Minger. Luise Light was the USDA Director of Dietary Guidance and Nutrition Education Research in the 1980’s and was responsible for the team that provided the recommendations in the first food pyramid. Here is a story of the USDA’s conflict of providing guidelines, promoting agricultural products and the success of the food industry getting itself into our homes.
“Where we, the USDA nutritionists, called for a base of 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, it was replaced with a paltry 2-3 servings (changed to 5-7 servings a couple of years later because an anti-cancer campaign by another government agency, the National Cancer Institute, forced the USDA to adopt the higher standard).
Our recommendation of 3-4 daily servings of whole-grain breads and cereals was changed to a whopping 6-11 servings forming the base of the Food Pyramid as a concession to the processed wheat and corn industries. Moreover, my nutritionist group had placed baked goods made with white flour — including crackers, sweets and other low-nutrient foods laden with sugars and fats — at the peak of the pyramid, recommending that they be eaten sparingly.
To our alarm, in the “revised” Food Guide, they were now made part of the Pyramid’s base. And, in yet one more assault on dietary logic, changes were made to the wording of the dietary guidelines from “eat less” to “avoid too much,” giving a nod to the processed-food industry interests by not limiting highly profitable “fun foods” (junk foods by any other name) that might affect the bottom line of food companies.”

Secret Crop Subsidies, More Secrecy and Conflict of Interest

Just read this article and it doesn’t sound like a good deal for us American Tax Payers.
This sounds like a win for the USDA, the food industry and those growing the crops (likely to be primarily for Corn, Wheat, Soy, Cotton and Rice) and receiving …the subsidies. The USDA should not be promoting and subsidizing crops on one hand, and on the other, telling us what to eat in order to be “healthy”.
In 1980, the USDA Dietary Guidelines of Americans (DGA) stated “Eat Foods with adequate starch and fiber” When speaking about Dietary Fat it said “Avoid Too much fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol”. The same message was echoed in the 1985 DGA.
In 1990, things changed a bit and the recommendation for veggies turned into “Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grain products”. It appears that grain was now important to our diet. It also stated to “choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol” which is a reason for the low-fat craze that continues even today.
In 1995 the veggies statement changed yet again to include “choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits.” Grains now took a front-row to vegetables and fruit; this should be rather evident by looking around the grocery store. As for fat, it states “choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol”.
In 2000, they took it to a new level by declaring “choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains”. For fat intake they cautiously said “choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat”. The moderation in total fat mentioned of course being those “heart-healthy” vegetable oils we now use everywhere and overload our Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) ratio becoming pro-inflammatory.
The overall message: Whole grains this, whole grains that, low fat this, no cholesterol that. This trend of placing an emphasis on promoting agricultural products in the diet while placing the blame on dietary fats, or the people (lazy, eat too much, stupid) continues even today. The new USDA Dietary guidelines are supposed to be released in 2015, but only if we, the American people, let them.