Low-fat diets can do a great disservice, since good fats are essential to life
Complex Issues Of Good-and-Bad Cholesterol, Saturated Fats, Unsaturated Fats, Essential Fatty Acids and Deadly Trans Fatty Acids
High-Level Summary: Certain types of “good” fats are absolutely essential – we cannot exist without eating and producing them, but other “bad” fats can cause many types of disease, leading to great suffering, economic burden, and unnecessary early death. Many people need to eliminate “trans fats” (found in many processed foods) and increase their intake of “omega-3 fats” (found in unsalted raw walnuts, canola oil (rapeseed), smaller cold-water fish, flaxseed, lecithin (soy, eggs, meats and to a lesser degree in some fruits and vegetables), etc.), (explained in detail in later sections).
Insufficient intake of good fats can result in a variety of diseases that have complex cause-and-effect relationships, such as internal organ damage, central nervous system damage, mental imbalance including depression and dementia, symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Externally, long-term insufficient good fat intake can cause accelerated skin aging, disease-causing inflammation, susceptibility to infection and hair loss.
Examples of new counterintuitive scientific discoveries that very few medical professionals understand: Many people should INCREASE their intake of certain saturated fats to lower their bad cholesterol level and reduce the risk of deadly heart disease (explained below by a renowned endocrinologist M.D.). Millions of people are causing significant damage to their liver by eating UNsaturated fat (scientifically explained below).
EVERYONE SHOULD LEARN HOW TO AVOID COMMONLY-USED TRANS FATTY ACIDS. For years, doctors, government agencies and professional dietitians incorrectly told us that eating fat was bad and that margarine was better for us than butter, but in recent years, research scientists have clearly explained precisely why consuming “trans fatty acids” in margarine and most baked goods like bread, cookies, noodles, etc. is three times worse than eating pure butter or lard. This information is highly controversial, since it contradicts what biased organizations like the National Association of Margarine Manufactures and the (documented corrupt, untrustworthy) U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been incorrectly promoting for decades.
Trans fatty acids greatly increase the risk of America’s number one killer: heart disease. Trans fats lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Half of Americans will die of cardiovascular disease.
Trans fats are currently THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM WITH THE BAD AMERICAN DIET TODAY. The FDA was finally forced to recognize this, and is now requiring all foods to add trans fat content to their labels by 2006. Many foods with zero trans fats have already added this to their labels in 2004. High trans fat foods are being reformulated. American dietary changes are slow and difficult to bring about – there is enormous resistance to change. Ignorance, apathy and deceptive misinformation abound, but the trans fat issue is so serious that at least the labels are changing quickly. Soon, the food industry will begin to eliminate most deadly trans fats from the marketplace of better-informed consumers.
Until then, intelligent readers can be assured in 2005 that a product that does NOT list its trans fat content, and that has “partially hydrogenated” in its Ingredients, has a lot of deadly trans fat in it, and should be TOTALLY AVOIDED. Clue: If you add the amounts of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat on the food label, and the total does not equal "Total Fat" , the discrepancy may represent the amount of deadly trans fat (rounded to the closest gram per item). If you do nothing else to improve your diet, PLEASE pay attention to this very important issue and ELIMINATE ALL TRANS FAT FROM YOUR DIET.
The doctors, dietitians and government agencies that recommended the use of foods containing trans fatty acids unknowingly (or with obviously-biased profit motives) do a great disservice to us all, which has probably resulted in the unnecessary suffering and untimely death of millions of Americans with heart disease in the last half century.
Several recent studies have addressed the subject of heart disease risks in childhood and documented that heart-healthy eating habits are important for adults AND young children. One new millennium study (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) confirmed that simple dietary substitutions make a significant difference in lowering bad cholesterol levels, not only in adults but also in children. This research revealed that the entire family can benefit from a heart-healthy diet that substitutes good fats for bad fats (discussed in great detail below).
Another study found that adolescents (ages 13 to 18) with high cholesterol intake were more likely to show early signs of cumulative artherosclerosis (heart disease). In addition, a major 20-year heart study revealed that children aged 5 to 17 who were overweight were 2.4 times more likely to have elevated bad cholesterol levels, which are clearly linked to heart disease. Roughly one fourth to one third of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are at least “overweight”, which places an alarming number of young people at a significantly increased risk for devastating heart disease, diabetes, etc.
The National Cholesterol Education Program issued updated guidelines for the detection, evaluation and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults, which included this recommendation: "Everyone older than age 2 should care about cholesterol to reduce the risk of developing heart disease as an adult. Children as well as adults can improve the health of their hearts by following a low-saturated-fat and low-cholesterol diet, avoiding obesity, and being physically active." While this statement is basically correct, we will explain in this in-depth material why the NCEP recommendation is over simplified and still needs further refinement in light of the last few years of research about dietary good and bad fats.
We now know that heart disease starts in childhood and it is America’s number one killer of both men and women. In order to help reverse this trend, the entire family should develop improved nutrition habits. Simple dietary changes are the first steps toward a longer, healthier, happier lifestyle.
According to opinion surveys, parents already think that they know what they should be doing to improve their children’s eating habits, but they don’t. In fact, this material will point that not only are the vast majority not doing what they think is good for their children, but they are being mislead by government agencies, board-certified medical professionals and misinformed professional dietitians. In our fast-paced, fast food, overstressed, everyone-is-too-busy world, adult and child nutrition suffers badly, and our public health is declining sadly.
Changing the long-term bad nutrition habits of Americans is not going to be easy. Many will continue to suffer debilitating disease and die unnecessary deaths rather than change. They will endure significant unnecessary long term pain, place a huge burden on unsound baby boomer medical subsidies, and on their caregivers and loved ones – ALL OF WHICH IS LARGELY AVOIDABLE.
It will take significant education and personal discipline to retrain American taste buds, marketing practices, and food shopping skills to know the difference between good and bad nutrition habits. Government agencies have spent many years trying to indiscriminately get the general public to eat less fat, but the majority of Americans are eating even more. Profit-motivated convenience food company marketing campaigns, (with throw-away-toys next to the french fries), are obviously much more effective at molding the decision-making process of adults and children than FDA recommendations, (which we will see are themselves are highly flawed).
We now know that the government’s nutrition guidelines need significant revision. Even if what we are talking about was not controversial, it would take more than a decade to get people to change eating habits learned from grandma or from commercial television ads. The fact that most medical professionals, dietitians and government officials are NOT keeping up with modern nutrition research only slows the process of massive international behavior modification.
To realize how rampant the lifestyle misinformation problem is today, consider the millions of Americans (including some of our Presidents) who risk permanent physical and mental health damage by ignoring scientific findings and taking (and selling) illegal “recreational” drugs. Since the damage from improper lifestyle choices can take many years to accumulate, most people think “If it doesn’t kill me today, it must be OK.”
Joyful Aging can only hope that YOU will take the time to read this lengthy material and other valuable sources of nutrition information. We hope we can help motivate you to pursue lifelong learning about important issues that can dramatically impact your own health and happiness.
The following material provides overwhelming scientific clinical-and-laboratory findings to provoke our thoughtful readers (with effective critical thinking skills) to study and understand what needs to change and why. Please take the time to read and absorb it all, but, if you gain nothing else from the following material, the VERY MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE is to STOP CONSUMING TRANS FATTY ACIDS. Check the ingredients when you go shopping. If the ingredients include “partially hydrogenated” oils, or “shortening,” do NOT buy or consume them. A small amount of trans fat probably won’t kill you quickly, however, long-term consumption of trans fats will have a cumulative negative impact that can begin as early as age 2. For your own sake, and the long-term health of your offspring, please invest the time to learn, and be prepared to make simple changes to the combination of foods that you eat.
Our intent is to inform and educate our intelligent readers about solid scientific knowledge and statistical risk factors, not to diagnose particular diseases or to treat unique individuals. Let’s begin with the basics:
The underlying metabolic biochemistry processes of “lipids” (different forms of fat) are poorly understood by the general public AND by many board-certified physicians, professional dietitians and government agencies (including the U.S. FDA). Understanding lipid metabolism requires a mind that is open to science, more than the traditions that grandma taught your mother, or unhealthy foods that are promoted by profit motivated television commercials.
The interesting thing is that the basics of essential fatty acid (EFA) metabolism are covered in a one credit hour sophomore undergraduate Biochemistry class. From my experience, most medical doctors and certified nutritionists/dietitians do NOT understand the practical applications of this second year one-hour college course or related recently published research papers.
If you want to see how sad the lack or fat metabolism knowledge really is, take a look at the Biochemistry class webpage on fat metabolism. Pick out a few of the interesting terms and ask your medical doctor or a hospital dietitian / meal planner why their food recommendations ignore basic Biochemistry concepts. It is very easy to learn more about fat metabolism than most doctors and dietitians combined understand - Just read this Joyful Aging material, browse a few Internet web pages, and you will quickly see what I mean.
The U.S. FDA has for many years demonstrated their ongoing ignorance of basic Biochemistry and published the major source of the modern American morbid obesity epidemic with their relentless promotion of their “deadly” low-fat, high-carbohydrate Food Pyramid. The Healthy Lifestyles Act, submitted to the Senate in May 2004, mandates major revision of the highly flawed FDA Food Pyramid based on abundant information gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (www.CDC.gov) that document the link between the terrible FDA Food Pyramid errors and galloping morbid obesity in America.
Humans are as unique as our fingerprints: Fat metabolism requirements and diseases linked to insufficient good fats vary significantly from one individual to another, based on:
(3) Environment (pollutants, toxins, free radicals, etc.)
(4) Activity (exercise)
(5) Age (Rate of Aging)
(6) Other non-fat nutritional intake (particularly high glycemic index carbohydrates).
Over the years, medical doctors, certified nutritionists, and government agencies, have made many incorrect, overly-simplistic recommendations about fat consumption that we now know are the WRONG thing for most individuals to do.
The following material provides a basic understanding of frequently misunderstood dietary fat issues. We will overview recent important scientific and public health discoveries, and illuminate the reasons for improved dietary fat recommendations (like increase omega-3 intake and some type of body-building saturated fat, and eliminate pervasive, unnatural, deadly trans fats).
EVERY HUMAN IS “FAT.” Every cell of our body is lined with a critical membrane made of fat. The (axon / dendrite) fibers that interconnect our nerves have a fatty myelin sheath that acts like electrical insulation. Many essential vitamins that we cannot survive without (A, D, E, F & K) are fat based. Without essential fats in our diet, we will surely die. A “no fat” diet will kill anyone. Our body MUST have lecithin, or similar lipids so the liver can manufacture lecithin.
Lecithin is a “phospholipid” – one of five different types of fat discussed in more detail below. Lecithin is needed by every cell in the body, and is a key building block of cell membranes. Without lecithin our cell membrane would harden and we would age rapidly. Lecithin protects cells from oxidation and is a major component of the protective sheaths surrounding the brain. Lecithin is composed mostly of B vitamins, phosphoric acid, choline (phosphatidylcholine), linoleic acid and inositol.
Although lecithin is basically a fatty substance, it is also a valuable fat emulsifier that helps fat mix with water. This characteristic helps purge bad LDL cholesterol from our bodies. Nature exploits the lecithin emulsifier effect and includes lecithin in many plants and animal tissues. Lecithin provides essential support for the entire the circulatory system. Of all the muscles in our body, our heart (which is the most difficult muscle to fatigue) has the highest lecithin content.
The brain uses lecithin’s valuable choline to make acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter that is necessary for memory, sensory input, and muscular control. WE ARE ALL “FAT HEADS” (smile). Sixty percent of a normal healthy brain is made up of structural fat.
WE ARE WHAT WE EAT. Our food MUST provide the essential building blocks and fuels for life. Approximately 30% of our brain is composed of lecithin. Of the insulating and protective sheaths that surround our brain, spine, and thousands of miles of nerves, lecithin accounts for two- thirds of their composition.
When hospitalized patients must be fed intravenously (with “TPN”), lecithin is an essential phospholipid (form of fat) that we cannot live without.
An interesting thing is that liquid lecithin food supplement capsules can be about one half saturated fat. Board-certified nutrition “experts” who foolishly suggest that we should avoid consuming all saturated fats do not have a clue about essential human nutrition and lipid metabolism.
Most lecithin food supplements are made from soybeans, which also contains many other valuable phytonutrients. Soybeans can be refined and most of the oil can be removed, along with the protein-building amino acids, but WHY BOTHER? Whole soybean products are a beneficial food source, which includes absolutely essential lecithin and other essential biochemicals. Lecithin research studies about lowering cholesterol levels have been done using 3-5 rounded tablespoons of oil-removed lecithin granules daily. After a period of three to four months, significant reduction in serum cholesterol is usually observed (due in large part to the emulsifier effect of lecithin).
Plants and animals cannot exist without many different types of fats that we either (1) eat or (2) generate internally from other dietary nutrient sources. A “vitamin” is an organic (carbon-containing) compound that is necessary for the normal physiological and metabolic function of the body. Although some vitamins (like B12) can be generated in small amounts by bacterial in a “healthy” gut (that has not been exposed to antibiotics that kill both bad and good micro organisms) most vitamins cannot be produced by the body in adequate amounts and must therefore be obtained in our diet.
Some vitamins (A, D, E, F & K) are fat soluble. Anyone who recommends a “zero fat” diet simply does NOT understand the critical nature of vitamins. Mother’s milk is the best food for an infant. It is loaded with fat-based and water-based vitamins, along with many beneficial things (hormones, immune system antibodies, etc.) that are not found in any commercial baby formula. One half of human milk is good essential fat. We simply can NOT live long healthy lives without continuing to consume essential good fats.
Humans cannot generate certain “essential fatty acids” (recently named “vitamin F”). These “EFA’s” MUST be included in our diet for us to survive. Some naturally healthy foods (like walnuts, soy / tofu, flaxseed, canola, and some types of cold water, fatty, wild fish) contain absolutely essential dietary fatty acids, but the vast majority of Americans do NOT consume adequate EFA’s in their normal diet. Frequently, the imbalance of good-versus-bad fats in their diet is quite harmful to their health. Insufficient fat-based vitamins and structural fats (like lecithin) in the diet results in many serious, avoidable, health problems (discussed in much more scientific detail below).
Eating fat does not necessarily make you fat. Educing intake of some types of good fat may NOT help you lose weight. In fact, eating some types of fats will actually help you LOSE excess body fat.
One extremely important clinical study (that many people have not heard about) found that dieters on a calorie-controlled, “moderate-fat” (35 percent of calories) nutrition plan that included nuts and other good fats lost as much or more weight than dieters on a 20-percent-fat calorie-controlled plan. One of several reasons is that low fat diets are higher in carbohydrates, which convert quickly into body fat.
The 35% moderate-fat diet group maintained their weight loss longer and better than did the 20% low-fat group over the 18-month test period and beyond. This is because the “moderate-fat, nuts-allowed” group reported fewer hunger and energy problems than did the low-fat diet group. Low-fat, high carbohydrate diets create a “sugar spike” after eating, followed by sugar depression a few hours later. Carbohydrates do not “stick to your ribs” like a moderate good fat diet does. One critical key to good health and weight control is to know the difference between good and bad fats – consume the good ones in moderate amounts (35% of caloric intake), and avoid the bad ones, ESPECIALLY DEADLY TRANS FATS (explained below).
Fresh, unsalted nuts (especially walnuts discussed in detail below) provide valuable protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, and important antiaging phytonutrients. In moderation (one handful every day), walnuts provide a healthy and slimming alternative to the empty calories of age-accelerating, disease-causing, high-glycemic-index refined carbohydrates, sugars, flour, potatoes, corn, starches, chips, breads, crackers and desserts (all of which should be avoided by most adults and overweight children).
Fats are an excellent form of high-density energy storage that is generated and stored by plants and animals during times of abundance. Powerful petroleum that powers our airplanes, trains and cars is generated when tiny fatty sea creatures die and settle to the bottom of the sea floor. These efficient, energy-storing animal fats are compressed by heavy geologic pressure from sediments that build up over many thousands or millions of years.
A gallon of petroleum or vegetable oil contains a significant amount of easy-to-use energy that can drive an automobile, heavy truck or train many miles, or lift a huge airplane off of the ground. Carbohydrates (sugar, grass, wood, etc.) cannot possibly provide the high-density energy storage that petroleum (animal fat) does. For over a century, petroleum has been one of the densest forms of readily-available, easily-controlled energy storage. (Nuclear energy is denser, but too complex for biological systems to control.)
In 1895, Rudolf Diesel invented his internal combustion engine – designed to run on peanut oil. Today, modern diesel and jet engines can run efficiently on clean, renewable “biodiesel” products like peanut oil, soybean oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, etc. In 1912, Rudolf Diesel wrote: "The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in the course of time as important as the petroleum and coal tar products of the present time." As the world slowly runs out of non-renewable petroleum, clean-burning biodiesel fuels may extend the lifetime of the internal combustion engine, oil-burning heating systems, etc. (National Biodiesel Board) It would be better if we could have zero-pollution, renewable-energy electric vehicles, but no one has been able to design a battery that can store energy as efficiently as animal fats do.
In warm-blooded hibernating animals (like many bears), body fat storage supplies enough energy to keep pregnant females nourished, warm and healthy for many months of bad weather. A large belly full of grass or berries could not possibly do this.
The energy in fat is stored and released slowly, unlike fast-burn carbohydrates. Consider the difference between a long-burning animal fat candle, a kerosene lamp or a diesel truck, and a pile of fast-burning grass, or the burst of energy you would need to outrun an angry bear for a short distance. Sugar is fast burn, volatile, limited energy storage. Fat is slow burn, stable, large-capacity energy storage. Humans need both in the proper balance.
In addition to efficiently storing large amounts of energy, animal-fat-based petrochemicals are also used to make strong and lightweight jet fighter aircraft wings, automobile parts, extremely-thin airtight food wrap, thread, cloth, asphalt highways, etc.
The state-of-the-art body of the new 250-passenger “Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner” is made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (from the stored body fats of ancient animals that eventually became petroleum). The structural-fat-based 7E7 plastic body is stronger and 20% lighter than metal body aircraft. It has only been very recently that aeronautical engineers have begun to learn what animal biology demonstrated billions of years ago about the high value of structural fats, and using fat as an excellent energy storage media for when food is scarce.
The diversity of uses for fat-based petrochemical plastics is the same concept that different types of fat use in many essential roles in our human body structure of cells, tissues and organs. Our brain would collapse of its own weight without the structural fats that hold the gray matter together, electrically insulate nerve impulses, and protect our precious brain from concussions, free radical oxidation, etc.
Every one of the many trillions of cells in our entire body depends on a flexible fat-based cell membrane, which is more important to human existence than the petroleum-fat-based plastic wings on a supersonic military jet fighter. Just like modern electrical wires are encased in flexible plastic insulation, every central nervous system neuron MUST have a fat-based insulating “myelin sheath” to keep thousands of tightly-bundled adjacent nerves from “shorting out” electrically.
Multiple sclerosis (loss of multiple sensory and control nerve functions) involves extensive degradation of improperly nourished myelin sheaths in nerves throughout the body. Essential fatty acids and the fat-based antioxidants (like vitamin A, D, E, K & F) that protect structural fats, cell walls and myelin sheaths are absolutely necessary for good health and longevity.
Most Americans develop diverse health problems because they do not consume enough of the right kind of essential fatty acids. If we do not consume sufficient fat-based vitamins and essential fatty acids (like omega-3 and DHA discussed in detail below), then our cell membranes and myelin sheaths will NOT be pliable, strong, resilient or resistant to disease processes, and every body tissue and organ will age much faster than it should.
The impact of insufficient vitamin F essential fatty acids is so dramatic that you can see it in the lack of resilience and premature aging of the skin, especially the face. We learn to recognize a person’s age by wrinkles in their skin. BUT, some people appear to age much more rapidly than others. Part of the reason for premature accelerated aging is insufficient intake of “good fats” and insufficient protective antioxidant vitamins. Although you can see this problem externally on the skin, the same is also true about every internal organ in the body. Wrinkled faces imply advanced internal organ aging. People who starve themselves on low-fat diets, or who drink alcohol or smoke regularly, often have premature external skin wrinkles, in addition to internal heart disease, cancers and other deadly age-related ailments. Our lifestyle choices dramatically impact our rate of aging.
Good fats and antioxidants are essential to good health. Misinformed “experts” who indiscriminately recommended reduction of dietary fat intake below 35% damaged the health of millions of Americans. The 1992 U.S. FDA Food Pyramid recommendation to reduce all fat intake and replace it with bread, pasta, potatoes, sugars, etc. is directly responsible for the untimely death of millions of Americans that were clearly caused by excessive intake of bad carbohydrates instead of good fats and antioxidants. The deadly cause-and-effect of the terrible 1992 FDA Food Pyramid is overwhelmingly documented in studies published on the Internet by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC), and by merely looking at the vast majority of obese Americans, and the new millennium epidemic of morbid obesity.
Unlike fats, many of the plant-based carbohydrates that we consume are rapidly digested and stored (short term) as immediately usable energy (glycogen - a sugar water complex) in our muscles and liver. “Carbohydrate loading” is essential for running a marathon. But, human glycogen storage capacity is very limited – It fills up quickly after a high carbohydrate meal, and is depleted rapidly during heavy exercise. If you consume bread and pasta (as was catastrophically recommended by the inept, misinformed FDA Food Pyramid), you will soon be hungry again. Your personality, emotions and depression will be subject to significant instability, since they are based in large part on blood sugar highs and lows. In stark contrast, major medical research institutes have now shown that omega-3 essential fatty acids stabilize mood and emotions, and are much safer and effective than some dangerous antidepressant medications.
In the presence of excess blood sugar (as easily measured by a serum glucose level “glucometer”), a healthy pancreas releases insulin, which improves the effectiveness of certain mitochondria (chemical factories within our cells) and stimulates enzymes (determined by our DNA, and located primarily in our liver) to rapidly convert the excess sugar into fat-based long-term energy storage (body fat).
Humans have specialized “fat cells” that hold this dense form of energy storage as body fat, for use later when food is scarce. In contrast to short-term, small-capacity, storage of glycogen energy in our muscles, body fat cells are long-term, large-capacity energy storage mechanisms (like the fuel tanks on a transcontinental jet airplane). When humans eat more carbohydrates than they burn in a day, they naturally store body fat during periods of inactivity – sleeping, sitting, watching TV, playing video games, working in front of a computer, surfing the Internet, etc.
American children are trained in school classrooms to sit still for many years, and lead mostly sedentary lives, whereas our ancestors’ bodies evolved to be constantly moving around while they were awake. Mental activity is linked to physical activity. Lazy minds are often found in lazy bodies. Look at the high-energy and imagination of preschool children, and then go visit them in a sadly boring American classroom a few years later.
In an era when the extremely simplistic book “Fun With Dick and Jane” ruled America's mindless mediocre schoolrooms, Albert Cullum allowed Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Shaw to reign in his fifth grade public school classroom. Through the use of poetry, drama and imaginative (out of your seat) play acting, Cullum championed an unorthodox educational philosophy of entertaining fun and critical thinking that spoke directly to his students' innermost being.
Most of Cullum’s students developed superior minds and healthy bodies. They had extensive vocabularies and problem solving abilities. Decades later, our modern schools are producing inferior, non-competitive, lazy, obese graduates who can barely read, write, communicate, or do basic arithmetic. Poor nutrition, exercise and mental aerobic training are largely to blame.
Humans are born energetic geniuses – Busy working parents lazily allow others to train their offspring to be satisfied with sedentary compliance to unhealthy normalcy - imposed by underpaid schoolteachers with mediocre minds and low community expectations. Middle-of-the-road classroom conformance is rewarded. Dissatisfaction and creative problem solving skills are punished.
Dilbert cartoons point out that everyone is aware that we are surrounded by galloping stupidity, yet we will wake up tomorrow and follow the same uncritical bad habits of mediocrity that created yesterday’s unfulfilling life. “The thinking that created today’s problems is insufficient to solve them.” – Albert Einstein
High carbohydrates plus deadly habitual, traditional, inactivity have produced the catastrophic American morbid obesity epidemic with terrible cascading consequences in the last decade alone. Serious American lifestyle changes are now absolutely necessary. Joyful Aging focuses on proper nutrition, exercise and mental aerobics that influence the decisions we make that control our good-or-bad lifestyle decisions.
Some body fat cells (like those near the heart and liver) are specialized to release energy much more rapidly than others (like those near our apple-shaped stomach, or pear-shaped rear end). The loss of fast-burn fat around the heart is dangerous – we cannot respond to high-stress and the heart can fail catastrophically. Low-calorie, low-fat “starvation diets” introduce serious health risks, including loss of critical heart/liver fat and the body digesting its own lean muscle mass, which reduces our ability to burn up stored body fat. Essentially, low fat, low calorie starvation makes you fatter.
The loss of fat around the stomach and hips is difficult for most people to achieve without significant long-term changes in nutrition and exercise (discussed extensively on this web site). It requires the wisdom to make lifelong modifications to healthy nutrition consumption, NOT quick-fix on-again, off-again crash diets, which cause the body to go into “energy conservation” mode and store as much fat as quickly as possible when you become ravenous and begin eating again.
The number of fat storage cells in our body (and where they are located) is for the most part determined very early in life. The eating habits of our mother and the food we are fed before we learn how to talk will influence our capacity to store body fat for the rest of our lives.
Decades ago, mothers used to incorrectly think that a fat baby was a healthy baby. Medications were stupidly prescribed to baby boomers (by the inept Geritol generation) to encourage children to eat more and become fat. We now know that this concept was for the most part very bad. Children and adults with more fat-storing cells must be even more careful about consuming too much carbohydrate, which can quickly turn into unhealthy levels of disease-causing stored body fat.
Obesity often runs in families. This does NOT mean that the tendency to become fat was inherited from your parents’ DNA. The people who plan menus for the family (or often purchase bad fast food) transfer their stupid nutrition habits to those around them and everyone young and old gets fat and has weight-related diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, cancers, etc.
If obesity was determined exclusively by genetics, then why has there been such an upsurge in morbid obesity since the U.S. FDA published their deadly Food Pyramid high-carbohydrate recommendations? Our DNA did NOT suddenly change since 1992, but most American sedentary lifestyles and bad nutrition habits certainly have gotten much worse.
Depending on our hour-by-hour food intake versus our physical activity, our body may be able to gradually convert stored fat back into usable “glucose” or “ketones” (needed by muscles and our brain / central nervous system), or we may accumulate increasing levels of body fat over time (leading to the current American “morbid obesity epidemic”).
Some naive / obsolete people say that weight loss is a simple matter of taking in fewer “calories” (a measure of energy in our food) than we burn. Clearly, if you consume zero calories, you WILL lose weight. But, the ratio of calories consumed versus calories burned is an obsolete (50+ year old), misleading oversimplification that is only partially true. Sometimes, we eat certain foods, the body takes only what it needs, and the rest goes down the toilet. Some foods are high in indigestible dietary five, which is high in calories, but does not increase blood sugar or body fat. High calorie dietary fiber has many health benefits and can contribute to loss of excess body fat. There are many other reasons why the pseudo-scientific overly-simplistic thermodynamic physics of “calories-in versus calories-out” does NOT describe the way human metabolism really works.
Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., is an often quoted nutrition specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Consider his following incorrect misleading oversimplified false statement, which is based on partial truth, combined with his obsolete training about calories-in versus calories:
“…carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels, which then kicks in insulin. Insulin drives blood sugar into the cells and prevents fat breakdown in the body, which means you won't burn excess fat and lose weight. Proponents of low-carbohydrate diets take this one step further. They say that if carbohydrates raise blood sugar and insulin levels and cause weight gain, a decrease in carbs will result in lower blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to weight loss. And because you're not eating the carbs, your body breaks down fat to provide needed energy. Some people do lose weight on low-carb diets, but the weight loss probably isn't related to blood sugar and insulin levels. The weight loss is more likely the result of eating fewer total calories, whether they're from carbohydrate, fat or protein.”
Doctors who continue to make such false statements in light of modern scientific information do a great disservice to the gullible mediocre masses.
We will explain in several sections of the following material how the very different metabolism of fats and sugars means that you can consume more “good” fat calories than “bad” carbohydrate calories and lose more weight by eating MORE calories.
This directly contradicts Dr. Hensrud of the prestigious Mayo Clinic, and all of those who ineptly preach that calories are the only thing that matters in weight loss.
Are you interested? Modern studies make it very clear that different types of fats and carbohydrates are digested and metabolized, used or stored much differently.
How your unique body metabolism works is more important than the number of calories you consume (although portion control does play an important role in good nutrition, as do the differences between good-and-bad fats-and-carbs).
You can have a dramatic impact on the rate of your metabolism by a variety of voluntary lifestyle decisions that you make every day. Without a doubt, exercise increases your metabolic rate. The more exercise, the more energy you burn (from ingested or stored sugars, fats, etc.). The proper balance between nutrition and exercise is essential to good health. Too much or too little of either will unnecessarily accelerate your rate of aging.
The biochemistry term “carbohydrate” means “carbon joined with water.” Through “photosynthesis”, plants store energy from the sun by efficiently converting carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates. Animals digest and metabolize the stored solar energy by “burning” carbohydrates in the presence of oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide and water, in a never-ending plant / animal energy-storage-and-use cycle.
The simplest forms of common carbohydrate (stored solar energy) are sugars and starches. The most common simple sugar is glucose, (which has six carbon atoms and forms an easily-burned biochemical ring structure). Sugar in the blood (serum glucose) releases its energy very quickly through the chemical factories (mitochondria) inside every living cell in our bodies. For this to work properly, the fat-based cell membranes mush work correctly. We previously explained that insufficient dietary intake of lecithin and fatty vitamins (A, D, E, K and F) produce unhealthy cell membranes, which corrupt proper metabolism. This is a negative downhill metabolic snowball, leading ultimately to untimely death.
The simpler a carbohydrate that we eat is (sweet liquids, table sugar, flour, corn, starchy roots like potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.), the faster it is digested and turns into blood sugar (serum glucose), which is easily converted to stored body fat (in the presence of insulin), if it is not burned very quickly with heavy exercise.
It is surprising to note that eating a plain baked potato is worse than eating an equal amount of table sugar, in that the potato releases glucose into the blood stream faster than does table sugar, causing a rapid sugar spike followed by hunger and depression. Potatoes and corn are good foods, ONLY if your other alternative is starvation!
With the exception of a few foods, (like pure glucose), almost everything we eat must be digested and broken down into familiar forms of energy (fuel), and body building blocks, before our food can be used. At least a small part of ALL digestible foods are eventually converted into serum glucose (even part of the energy stored in the leanest meats and protein sources). Indigestible dietary fiber merely passes through the system without contributing much glucose.
Beneficial “complex carbohydrates” (some vegetables like broccoli, kale, et.al.) and proteins (meat and some vegetables like beans and walnuts) take more time to digest and release glucose into our blood. The rate that different foods are digested and release their glucose (and store it as body fat if not used in a matter of hours) is called the “glycemic index.”
Glucose is very soluble in water and in our blood. Babies have immature digestive systems and need high glycemic index foods and frequent feeding. Liquefied carbohydrates (sugar water, fruit juice and milk lactose) pass very quickly through the stomach lining into our blood stream. This is great for infants, but bad for older children and adults.
The immature digestive system of infants must have high-glycemic-index food (like mother’s milk and low-fiber sweet fruit juice). In contrast, most adults should avoid high glycemic index foods, except when they exercise heavily, or they are diseased and significantly underweight.
Overweight children, adults, and those with problems controlling high blood sugar (diabetics) should generally avoid high glycemic foods, (which rapidly turn into body fat), unless they are running a marathon. Later, we will explain how low-blood sugar is necessary to encourage the beneficial process called “ketosis” which converts stored fats into a usable form of energy called “ketones” (this process is essential to weight loss).
Glucose is a universal fuel for almost all cells, tissues, organs and organisms. Glucose is the energy source for muscles, most brain functions, etc. Glucose provides about 4 calories of energy per gram. Alcohol is about 7 calories per gram, whereas high-density fat is about 9 calories per gram. Calorie counts indicated how much heat (energy) is released when a substance is burned (oxidized) in the presence of oxygen.
Our enzymes can rapidly convert excess serum glucose (a simple molecule) into fat (a more complex, high-density energy storage molecule) that is then accumulated in our body fat storage cells. Have you ever noticed how some fats (fried foods, etc.) taste “sweet”? Fat is just a higher-density form of energy storage than sugar, with a more complex molecular structure. Our sugar-sensitive taste buds recognize (“like”) sweet fats. Carnivorous animals (including humans) like eating high-density fats, since it provides long-lasting energy, when food is generally scarce and only occasionally abundant (when an animal food source is killed).
Sugars are “carbohydrates.” Animal fats and petroleum fuels are called “hydrocarbons.” Both are forms of water plus carbon (hydrogen, oxygen and carbon in various different “burnable” energy-storage structures).
COMMON MISUNDERSTANDING: EATING FAT MAKES US FAT. This incorrect concept from more than ten years ago (e.g., the deadly 1993 FDA Food Pyramid bad high-carbohydrate dietary recommendations) was based on the oversimplified belief that fat has more than twice the calories of table sugar. This is misleading, since it is only a small part of the equation. It ignores human metabolic processes. It is an invalid conclusion, based on the naïve belief that our body works entirely on “calories-in versus calories-out.” . (In this respect, Dr. Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic and many other overly-simplistic professional intuitionalists are flatly wrong, despite their prestigious titles and job assignments.) Our bodies do NOT behave the way calories do did a high-school biology class. What our biology teacher said decades ago is now know to have been less than the complete truth.
Different types of food are metabolized in different ways. For example, grass (and dietary fiber cellulose) are very high in carbohydrate calories. Cellulose burns rapidly and gives off a lot of heat quickly in a high school chemistry class calorie test.
Cattle eat grass, but they have the multiple stomachs that are required to “ruminate” and slowly break down cellulose into usable blood sugar. If humans eat only high-calorie grass, we will starve to death, since we cannot METABOLIZE grass the way cattle do.
Dietary fiber is essential in a healthy diet. Water-insoluble fiber helps clean out our intestines (like tiny brooms). Soluble gum and pectin helps is like sticky sponges that help purge cholesterol and buffer the rapid release of high glycemic index carbohydrates by coating the stomach lining. Dietary fiber is often high in calories (in laboratory tests), but much of it is not digested as it passes through our body. Dietary fiber can actually help reduce excess body fat, despite the fact that it is high in calories. Calories-in versus calories-out is absolutely an obsolete, inaccurate misconception, that is widely held by most medical doctors, professional nutritionists and dieticians. Overcoming their false “religion” is extremely difficult to do.
It is very clear to open-minded modern scientists that weight gain-or-loss is NOT based exclusively on calories-in versus calories-burned (as so many misinformed professionals have falsely proclaimed for over half a century). Weight gain or loss is actually based on “how” we digest and absorb the different types of food that we eat. Counting calories is grossly oversimplified, and it just does NOT work for many people who have tried and failed to lose weight by counting calories alone. A very small percentage of people can stay on a low-calorie diet for very long.
Portion control (especially of high glycemic foods) is important, but portion control of foods like dietary fiber and lean meats is far less important, despite the fact that they may very well be quite high in calories.
If we only consider caloric intake, we might falsely conclude that the way for an obese person to lose weight is to eat no fat or dietary fiber at all. However, we now know that people who eat moderate quantities of the right kinds of essential fats, fiber AND small amounts of high-glycemic-index carbohydrates usually LOSE excess body fat rapidly, while many Americans on low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets have become diseased and morbidly obese while eating a lot of bread, potatoes, pasta, cereals, rice, sweet liquids and other high-glycemic-index carbohydrates. The CDC morbid obesity statistics since 1992 prove that the FDA Food Pyramid, professional nutritionists, and the low-fat food providers who naively listened to them were extremely wrong!!!
Recent studies have shown that people on strictly controlled diets can consume MORE calories and lose MORE weight by eating low-carbohydrate meals, in contrast to low-fat meals (with fewer calories). To most board-certified medical doctors (who do not understand carbohydrate versus fat metabolism), this seems to contradict the laws of (calories in versus calories out) thermodynamics, but medical scientists and some “endocrinologists” who have carefully studied human metabolic processes now understand the fundamental differences between eating fat versus carbohydrates.
The calories in simple carbohydrates are easily turned into stored body fats, whereas it is much more difficult to convert dietary fats into stored body fats. When we eat fat, our bodies must first digest (break down) complex long-chain hydrocarbon fat molecules and slowly convert them into serum glucose (or ketones), before they can then be converted and stored as body fat.
When we restrict our intake of carbohydrates, our body goes into a beneficial fat-burning metabolic mode called “ketosis” where our body attempts to convert stored body fat into usable energy “ketones.” Misinformed medical critics of low-carbohydrate, high-protein dietary ketosis incorrectly claim that ketosis is an unnatural process, linked to diabetes. They may be board-certified medical professionals, (like the badly misinformed Ornish, Brown, Scherwitz, Billings, Armstrong and Ports, with a strong profit motive to sell their own biased low-fat diet plan books and close-minded research programs), but they are very wrong and confusing essential and beneficial “ketosis” with unhealthy diabetic “ketoacidosis” (which should indeed be avoided).
In fact, most Type II diabetics who change to a low-carbohydrate diet (instead of the highly-flawed FDA Food Pyramid) quickly eliminate ketoacidosis (as measured by excess ketones in the urine) and they greatly improve their control of serum glucose. In many cases, Type II diabetics can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for medications (insulin, etc.) by reducing carbohydrate intake (especially high-glycemic index foods) and increasing the level of regular (almost daily) exercise.
It is interesting to note that being overweight greatly accelerates the onset of age-related deadly diabetes. When blood sugar is out of control, medical doctors prescribe insulin injections. Non-compliant diabetics who continue to overeat, require high levels of insulin. High insulin levels greatly accelerate fat storage, and make insulin-dependent diabetics gain weight even faster than they were before. Insulin injections by non-compliant diabetics can be a destructive downhill snowball where the prescribed symptomatic treatment makes the root cause much worse. IT IS FAR BETTER TO GREATLY REDUCE CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE, AND INCREASE EXERCISE LEVEL, RATHER THAN TO BECOME DEPENDANT ON INSULIN INJECTIONS ! ! ! High blood sugar levels greatly accelerate aging, but then so do high insulin levels!
Despite what biased, misinformed, professional critics say, ketosis is a natural process that we all experience almost every day. Ketosis (low blood sugar that triggers the fat burning process) happens whenever we go for hours without eating and our blood sugar levels drop, such as while we are sleeping. Without ketosis, we would have to eat much more often. Ketosis decreases when our serum glucose increases, like shortly after we eat carbohydrates (especially those with a high glycemic index value). High blood sugar is bad. Ketosis is good for overweight people with excess body fat that needs to be burned off.
Both the heart and the brain operate 25% more efficiently on ketones than on glucose. Benefits that many people experience while in a state of low-carbohydrate-induced ketosis can include: reduction of excess body fat, decreased hunger, mental clarity, improved mood / attitude / motivation, increased energy, and (as long as protein intake is adequate) protection of lean muscle mass. Cutting calorie intake alone (with low protein intake) can cause the body to digest muscle tissue. Digesting the body’s own muscle tissue is a desperate mechanism that attempts to preserve the heart and brain during periods of starvation. This desperate condition of semi-starvation is known as “marasmus,” if you wish to study it further. It occurs frequently in extremely poor countries.
On a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, the body’s lean muscle mass is not digested – the dietary protein is metabolized, rather than the body’s own muscle tissue. This concept is not understood by those who incorrectly recommend a low calorie diet to lose weight (which often lacks sufficient protein and “essential fatty acids” – both of which are high in “good” calories).
Men tend to consume at least sufficient levels of protein, whereas many women prefer high carbohydrates (incorrectly recommended by the FDA) like pasta, baked goods, potatoes and salads, which lack sufficient protein and essential fatty acids. The difference between the average diet of men and women clearly shows up in middle age – on average, most women have age-acceleration wrinkles in their skin at an earlier age than most men (even though they often spend less time outdoors in the sun than most men do). Excess sugar accelerates aging. Insufficient protein in the diet cause the body to digest itself to avoid starvation. The fashionable idea that a middle-aged woman is only attractive if she is as skinny as a pubescent teenager is making women appear to grow old much sooner than men of the same chronological age. Everyone needs sufficient protein, antioxidants and essential fatty acids in their diet. Caloric intake is not the primary issue. Well-balanced nutrition is. The FDA Food Pyramid is down right wrong, misleading, and causing people to be overweight and age far too rapidly. The thinking that created these problems is insufficient to solve them.
Complete protein, vitamins and good fats are essential to good health and Joyful Aging. Our skin is an external organ that displays what is also happening to our internal organs. Women wear makeup to hide the truth, but some need to wash their face, look into the mirror, and realize what decades of poor nutrition has done. Low protein, insufficient good fats and too few antioxidants, combined with high blood sugar and insufficient water intake (even slight dehydration) causes age-accelerating inflammation. Sugar attaches to collagen, which results in stiff, inflexible, sagging skin that makes us look and feel older than we should/could be.
The good news is that skin begins to look better after less than a week on a low-carbohydrate anti-inflammatory balanced nutrition and exercise plan with sufficient protein, essential fatty acid (omega-3), antioxidants and water intake. We cannot completely eliminate the impact of decades or poor nutrition in only one week, but we can greatly reduce the rate of future aging by making easy-to-understand, intelligent lifestyle changes.
Due to the complexity of human metabolic processes, the type of calories we eat is much more important than the number of calories we ingest. It is therefore slowly becoming obvious to an increasing number of nutrition research scientists that the relationship between eating fat and storing fat is much more complex than professional hospital dietitians and government agencies understood only one decade ago, when the extremely-bad recommendations of the 1992 Food Pyramid were first published, to the long-term detriment of a significant portion of obese, unhealthy Americans who listened to the FDA.
The U.S. FDA Food Pyramid failed to different between good carbohydrates like beans, certain green leafy veggies and high antioxidant fruits, versus fattening high-glycemic foods like liquid carbohydrates, juices, refined sugar, flour, bread, pasta, beets, potatoes, corn, carrots, etc.
An all-meat diet may be effective for lions and tigers. Grass may be good for cattle, bamboo for gorillas and pandas, and eucalyptus leaves for koalas, but as humans we need the proper natural balance of animal protein, certain complex carbohydrates, vitamins and fiber (discussed in detail in multiple Joyful Aging nutrition materials).
In this paper about fats, we have attempted to make it clear that eating fat does not necessarily make you fat (unless the fat is consumed along with high carbohydrates). We will now dig a bit deeper into the modern biochemical metabolic mysteries of “good” versus “bad” fats. Some fats are absolutely essential to life. We will die without them. Other fats (like trans fats) accelerate aging, cause many diseases, and early death. Only a small percent of board-certified medical professionals and dietitians understand even part of the important nutrition details found on the Joyful Aging web site. Most did not receive this information in their formal nutrition training, and they are far to lazy to practice LIFELONG LEARNING in a world of ever-expanding new information about their profession.
The following may sound like excessively technical biochemistry, but the conclusions drawn from it are essential to good health. The more you know about these good-fat/bad-fat topics, the better lifestyle decisions you will be able to make for yourself and for those whose lives around you that you care about and influence.
Lipids (Various Forms Of Good and Bad Fat)
There are five main groups of compounds called “lipids”: fats, oils, phospholipids, waxes, and steroids. All but one contain either hydrocarbon chains or “fatty acids” in combination with other groups of molecules.
A fatty acid is chemically a long hydrocarbon chain capped by a carboxyl group (COOH). There are many common fatty acids, such as palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic acids.
Glycerol is a small, three-carbon molecule that can link fatty acids together. Fats and oils are basically very similar types of long chain molecules consisting of one, two or three fatty acid molecules linked to a single molecule of glycerol. A single fatty acid joined to a single glycerol molecule is termed a monoglyceride; two and three fatty acids joined to the same glycerol molecule are diglycerides and triglycerides. Many animal fats are triglycerides.
The combination of the particular fatty acids in a triglyceride determines many different things about the lipid, including how it looks and feels, whether it is a solid fat or a liquid oil at room temperature, and how healthy it is for our body (good or bad thing to eat or generate internally).
The disease of high serum triglycerides (“hypertriglyceridemia”) is a significant risk factor for deadly heart disease and stroke. Many Americans suffer from this deadly disease, which is largely caused by poor nutrition and is easily reduce by making simple dietary changes. Hypertriglyceridemia often runs in families. A small part of this is caused by inherited genetics, but most of it is caused by poor eating habits passed on from mothers, dietitians and caregivers to children, and by commercial advertising that promotes bad foods. In any case, hypertriglyceridemia can be reduced by improving nutrition, based on the following information.
Fats are generally composed of “saturated” fatty acids (explained below) and are solid at room temperature.
In contrast, oils are generally composed of “unsaturated” fatty acids and are often liquids at room temperature.
Waxes are usually simpler, consisting of two hydrocarbon chains held together by a single atom of oxygen.
Phospholipids are diglycerides with a phosphate group attached to the third carbon atom of the glycerol molecule.
Steroids (such as cortisone – an inflammation-controlling adrenal steroid hormone) are complex molecules made up of four closely connected rings of carbon atoms with other groups attached. Steroids and other lipids have dramatic influences on body structure and function.
In general, the five lipids play a variety of important roles in living cells, tissues, organs and organisms. Some lipids serve as long-term energy storage molecules, waterproof coverings and highly flexible barriers or boundaries between cells are their surroundings. Fats and oils are the main energy storage molecules for animals, and for some plants. In contrast to low-energy-storage sugars, one gram of high-density fat stores 9 calories of energy. If you are going to carry around a pound of energy, fats (like those in nuts and dried meats) are more than twice as efficient as carbohydrates.
In humans, lipids are stored in our organs and in specially adapted fat cells (adipose cells) just below the skin, or around critical organs like the heart and liver.
Waxes form part of waterproof coverings in a variety of organisms.
Phospholipids (like fatty acids) have the dual characteristics of being part hydrophobic and part hydrophilic (they can selectively mix or not mix with water – “semi-permeable” - conceptually similar to computer semi-conductors that conditionally allow-or-block the flow of electrons). Phospholipids are emulsifiers that allow oil and water to mix with each other. (See the previous discussion of essential Lecithin above.)
Phospholipids are an essential component in all cell membranes, where they form flexible, self-healing, double-layered boundaries between the cell and its surrounding environment. Improper lipid nutrition produces cells with critical membrane flaws that impair the functions of many human tissues and organs.
Steroids are regulatory molecules that pass into and out of cells easily, where they alter the metabolism or regulatory pathways within the cell, or change the flexibility of the cell membrane. Almost all steroid hormones are derived from beneficial forms of cholesterol. They influence dramatic male / female sexual characteristic differences. Professional athletes and Olympic competitors are barred from taking dangerous performance enhancing steroids (although many have been found to have done so). Steroids bind with DNA genetic “nucleotides” and influence cellular reproduction transcription rates. The adrenal steroid hormone “cortisone” controls painful and damaging inflammation. It is often administered by myopic medical doctors to reduce symptomatic inflammation, but an excess of cortisone causes the body to stop producing it, and the patient will soon have serious inflammatory pain all over their body when the treatment ends. Attempts to externally regulate steroids are extremely dangerous. It is far better to maintain a healthy body with proper lipid nutrition.
In summary, the five types of lipids (fats) are essential to life itself. Lipid metabolism problems are the source of a wide variety of difficult-to-understand disease, reproduction, growth, development, healing, maturation and aging processes. The lipids in our body are directly influenced by the foods we eat, and a variety of other complex interacting factors. Lipid ingestion and metabolism dramatically influences health, development and longevity, perhaps even more than minor genetic variations in most individuals.
Using the above basic sugar and fat concepts, we will now discuss the “good” and “bad” aspects of: Cholesterol, Saturated Fats, Unsaturated Fats, Essential Fatty Acids (vitamin F) and Deadly Trans Fatty Acids. We will see how dietary fat decisions that you make can have a significant impact on your development, longevity, health, happiness, pain, suffering and national medical care economics. Too many public policy makers are clueless about much of the detail contained in this material. Our goal is to inform, so superior policy decisions and lifestyles will result in the near future. Please tell your friends what you have thoughtfully discovered.
Dietary cholesterol and “saturated fats” (discussed in more detail below) tend to increase blood cholesterol, but there are many other factors that can increase fat in the blood stream, such as inherited genetic tendencies and excessive blood sugar from eating and drinking sugars, bread products and starches like potatoes, etc. (since the liver can rapidly turn excess serum glucose into to fat).
A high level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood is one serious risk factor for coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, which eventually leads to heart failure or brain stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the United States. For many years, doctors have monitored blood (serum) cholesterol levels and advised patients to avoid high cholesterol levels. However, several studies in the 1990’s showed that as many as eighty percent of people having heart attacks have normal or low cholesterol levels, so cholesterol level is obviously not the only issue with respect to heart disease.
High total cholesterol is one risk factor for heart disease, but total serum cholesterol is clearly NOT the most important indicator to monitor. We now know that low total cholesterol (and therefore low “good” cholesterol) can be much more deadly than high total cholesterol with a good ratio of good versus bad cholesterol (explained in detail below)..We will first introduce cholesterol basics, and then discuss the lesser-known subtle cholesterol issues that are very important to your health.
Blood cholesterol can be measured by your physician, or at home with a kit available from your drug store, (for a few dollars per test). The American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Cholesterol Education Program developed the Step I and Step II diets to treat high blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia). Their main goal is to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad form discussed below) to significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, which cause heart attack. They state that: “a person with a total cholesterol of 300 mg/dL has a greater risk than someone with a total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL, even though everyone with a total cholesterol greater than 240 is considered high-risk.” The AHA continues to have a long-standing recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg daily, or if that does not sufficiently lower your serum cholesterol then limit dietary cholesterol to less than 200 mg daily. This makes sense, but it is over simplified.
It is estimated that for every 1% reduction in cholesterol, heart disease risk is lowered by 2% (but we will explain why other complex issues are also involved). You should always read the cholesterol level on the label of the processed foods that you buy, and become familiar with the cholesterol levels in unlabeled butchered meats.
The following is a brief summary of the approximate milligrams of cholesterol in a serving of common foods (arranged in worst-to-best descending sequence): Use this to plan you menus:
Liver – 400, Beef Steak or Roast – 320, Bacon – 306, One Egg Yolk – 274, Lamb Chop – 270, Boneless Ham – 259, Veal Cutlet – 254, Lean Canadian (Back) Bacon – 228, Chicken Dark – 130, Turkey White – 117, Turkey Dark – 109, Tuna Packed In Water – 104, Small Hamburger – 96, Skinless Chicken Dark – 87, Ground Chuck – 85, Lobster – 81, Pork Chop – 81, Chicken Breast (with skin, compare skinless below) – 78, Sardines – 55, Trout – 49, Salmon – 47, Perch – 36, Crab – 35, Pike – 33, Whole Milk – 33, Buttermilk – 31, Chocolate Milk – 30, 2% Reduced Fat Milk – 18, Buttermilk – 9, Skim Milk – 4, Skinless Chicken Breast – 1, Egg White – 0, Fruits – 0.
Likewise, sufficient protein is essential to life, but too much protein may compromise kidney function in older people, and in patients with kidney disease. High protein intake may adversely affect calcium balance and contribute to mineral loss from bones. Since high meat protein is often linked to high saturated fat intake, it may be linked in some individuals to excess bad “LDL” cholesterol levels:
Since as many as 80% of people who have heart attacks have normal or low total cholesterol, there MUST be other factors that are involved. One of them is extremely important is the different types of cholesterol:
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) - The “bad” kind of cholesterol - Increases the risk of death by heart disease and stroke. Your blood test LDL should be well below 100. Higher levels can be deadly (over time). Dietary choices and exercise can significantly lower your LDL.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) - The “good” kind of cholesterol - Decreases the risk of death by heart disease and stroke. Higher levels of protective HDL are better. Dietary choices and exercise can significantly raise your HDL.
HDL circulates in the bloodstream, extracting bad cholesterol from body tissues and transporting it to the liver for excretion or recycling. Increased levels of HDL are correlated with a decreased risk of artherosclerosis - a primary cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
When we ingest certain types of low-density fats (which are essentially an indigestible waxy substance), the enzymes in a healthy liver attempt to convert LDL into beneficial HDL (by wrapping them with longer-chain, high-density fat molecules). If we overload our liver (with excess fat, sugar, etc.) or damage it with alcohol, drugs (legal or illegal), excess iron, etc. our liver can NOT convert enough LDL into HDL, and our net LDL / HDL ratio (cholesterol profile) becomes “bad” (deadly over time). High TOTAL cholesterol is NOT the most serious heart disease problem, as long as our LDL / HDL ratio is “good.”
Cholesterol repairs blood vessel cracks and leaks that would otherwise cause devastating hemorrhages, strokes (macro and micro “mini” strokes), loss of blood supply to muscles and nerves, heart attacks, disruption of central nervous system connections (memories, skills, senses and motor control), dizziness, neuropathy (pain and tingling in the extremities and eventually loss of sensor and motor control similar to multiple sclerosis), permanent irreversible dementia, blindness, and ultimately (slow or rapid) death by heart failure, errors in judgment, fatal accidents, etc.
High cholesterol is NOT the source of all vascular disease problems. Helpful Analogy: Think of cholesterol as firemen trying to put out a fire (small-and-large cracks and leaks in the vascular system). If you see many firemen, it does NOT mean that they are starting all of the fires – It merely means that there are other disease processes going on and they are merely trying to help reduce the devastating impact of vascular leakage. Of course, if the street is crowded with cholesterol firemen, the important and essential fire trucks and water cannot get through, and much more serious problems will soon occur (high blood pressure, strokes, heart attack and unnecessary early death).
We need the correct balance of firemen, fire trucks, water, etc. Too much or too little of any one thing, and we will have out-of-control fires, strokes, ischemic neuropathies, and organ failures throughout the body. Turning off the natural gas or electricity that is fueling the ongoing fires would also be a good thing to do. This requires us to stop looking at the firemen, and explore the underlying cause and effect (which seems to be very rare in these days of massive oversimplification of the complex problems we face, where we prescribe neurotoxic pain killers, without first investigating and removing the thorn in our foot.). Dangerous cholesterol-lowering drugs have killed millions of Americans. They disable important liver functions, and when combined with certain common foods like grapefruit can quickly become life threatening.
We need to fix the problems causing the underlying vascular damage, rather than focus on merely getting blood test results to look better, while killing the patient (which is so much of the “bad” medicine being practiced today).
The following describes vascular damage and cholesterol plaques caused by high levels of the amino acid “homocysteine.”
We now know the precise science of scientific nutrition. One of the essential nutritional categories that we must have is Amino Acids (arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine). We need ALL of these basic protein building blocks in the proper amounts and ratios. The liver uses enzymes (based on our precise DNA) plus vitamins (that are in the food we eat) to spin amino acids into very-strong long chain protein molecule threads. These protein threads are then woven together to create the fabric of all our tissues and organs.
We are made of protein. Our long hair and muscle fibers are mostly protein with flexible high-strength characteristics. Our bones are mostly calcium held together in part by protein. Protein metabolism (mostly liver function) is extremely critical to life.
You can tell by the placement of our forward-facing 3D-perceptive eyes that human ancestors were predatory carnivore meat eaters. (Vegetarian herbivores that are3 the prey of carnivores have defensive eye placement on the sides of their heads.) Carnivores get their amino acids from eating meat. Lions, tigers, etc. live well on nothing but meat. Herbivores must get their amino acid mix from vegetables – none of which have all necessary amino acids in the correct proportions.
Modern humans who eat meat and fish generally consume complete amino acids in the proper ratio, but most humans who choose to not eat meat have a significant deficiency of one or more amino acids, which often results in weak protein chains. Vegetarians and especially vegans must be diligent to consume the proper balance of all amino acids, which very few of them are capable of doing, due to dietary misinformation and improper nutrition choices. Human meat eaters also often make bad nutrition choices, consuming far too little of the recommended daily intake of seven to nine servings of the right kinds of fruits and vegetables.
Homocysteine is an essential amino acid (a building block of protein) that is produced in the human body. Clinical studies for the last 30 years consistently link elevated homocysteine with an increased risk for developing heart deadly disease. Excess levels of homocysteine can irritate blood vessels and invite cholesterol (fireman) build up, leading to detrimental blockages in the arteries (called atherosclerosis).
In addition to cardiovascular disease, recent studies suggest that elevated levels of homocysteine play a role in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy-induced hypertension, miscarriages, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
High homocysteine levels in the blood can also cause cholesterol to change into “oxidized low-density lipoprotein” (very bad cholesterol), which is even more damaging to the arteries. Antioxidants can help reduce the rate of LDL oxidation.
High homocysteine levels can make blood clot more easily than it should, increasing the risk of blood vessel blockage. Artery blockage can cause you to have a sudden problem with blood flow, a devastating brain stroke, or sudden catastrophic heart failure. Many people with life-threatening heart disease have high homocysteine levels.
Homocysteine is formed in humans from the metabolism of the essential amino acid, “methionin” found in meats and dairy products. High dietary consumption of methionine can result in the overproduction of homocysteine (depending on genetic characteristics). Soon after homocysteine is produced, it is metabolized in the body through one of two possible pathways “remethylation” or “transsulfuration.”
Remethylation is a process that uses folate, vitamin B12 or “betaine” (trimethylglycine) to convert homocysteine back to methionine. Alternately, transsulfuration uses vitamin B6, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, to catabolize excess homocysteine into a number of metabolites for eventual excretion from the body. Plasma homocysteine concentrations may differ, depending on which metabolic homocysteine pathway is less effective in particular individuals. Even a mildly impaired remethylation pathway will significantly increase plasma fasting homocysteine concentrations. This impairment may be caused by reduced levels of folate, vitamin B12 or genetic defects. In contrast, a mild impairment in the transsulfuration pathway can lead to a very slight increase in fasting plasma homocysteine levels. A transsulfuration impairment may be due to genetic defects or inadequate levels of vitamin B6. It is usually characterized by elevated plasma homocysteine following a methionine loading test, where scientists administer high doses of methionine to subjects and observe homocysteine levels.
Although the above involves complex biochemistry, the bottom line is that incomplete nutrition causes heart disease. In healthy individuals, homocysteine is normally used by the body to build essential protein. If your homocysteine level is too high, you may not have enough B vitamins to help this process, or you may not have enough of the enzymes that are necessary to metabolize homocysteine correctly.
Most people with a high homocysteine level do NOT get enough folate (also called folic acid), vitamin B-6 or vitamin B-12 in their diet. Correcting these dietary deficiencies with proper nutrition or food supplements helps return the homocysteine level to normal and greatly reduce the risk of several deadly diseases. Other possible causes of a high homocysteine level include low levels of thyroid hormone, kidney disease (often caused by poor lifestyle choices), psoriasis, or rare inherited genetic deficiencies in the enzymes used to process homocysteine in the body. Medications such as Azaribine (a vitamin B6 antagonist); phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol) (anticonvulsants that interfere with folate metabolism); and the administration of nitrous oxide in anesthesia during operations (and drug abuse) elevates homocysteine level.
Many scientific studies have shown the powerful effects B vitamins have on homocysteine. In one study of 750 subjects and 800 controls, plasma homocysteine concentration dropped as blood levels of folate, “cobalamin” and “pyridoxine” rose. Users of vitamin preparations containing these nutrients appeared to experience substantial protection from vascular disease compared to nonusers. In most cases, including genetic, vitamin supplementation results in a near normalization of plasma homocysteine.
The normalization evident with folate supplementation may be dose dependent. In one study of 491 adults with hypertension, dyslipidemia or type II diabetes, serum total homocysteine concentrations were elevated in participants consuming less than 400 mcg folate/day, but fell as folate intakes exceeded 400 mcg/day.
The effect of B vitamins depends on the reason for elevated homocysteine. A placebo-controlled study of healthy kidney transplant recipients showed that whereas fasting homocysteine can be lowered by a combination of folate and vitamin B12, post-methionine load homocysteine can only be lowered by B6 supplementation.
Another important homocysteine-regulating nutrient is “betaine,” which is essential in recycling homocysteine back to methionine. Betaine has been shown to lower homocysteine levels in the majority of patients unresponsive to vitamin B6 therapy. In one study, daily doses of 250 mg of vitamin B6, 5 mg of folic acid, and 6 gm of betaine by themselves or in combination normalized the majority of high homocysteine levels in patients administered high doses of methionine.
Recent research suggests that cardiovascular disease is only one aspect of the protective effect of B vitamins. The implications have become substantially more far-reaching as scientists have begun unearthing links between homocysteine and numerous other diseases. Due to the low cost of vitamins, no one has an economic incentive to inform Americans of the life-saving benefits of simple nutrition secrets.
There are accurate (but expensive) blood tests for homocysteine level that are especially valuable for “at risk” individuals. People who consume more vitamin B-6 (about 4.6 mg a day), folate (at least 400 mcg a day), or vitamin E (at least 100 IU, but not more than 400 IU, a day) have a lower risk of heart attacks.
Vitamin B-6, B-12 and folate protect the heart by lowering blood levels of homocysteine. Some scientific studies suggest that if we add these essential vitamins to food supplies, we would save 50,000 Americans from heart attacks every year.
Much vascular damage is done every single minute of our life by free radicals (age accelerating oxidizers) found in pollution (smoke, car exhaust, industrial processes / materials / gases, food and water additives, plastic solvents, carcinogenic household cleaners, etc). Unavoidable free radicals are also continually produced internally by incomplete human metabolic processes.
Although our stomach contains strong acids that are necessary to digest the food we eat, our blood stream must be alkaline (not acidic) in order for our red blood cells to carry oxygen to our tissues. Free radicals and a lack of essential minerals like calcium can change the acid / alkaline balance and damage our arteries, which activates the cholesterol firemen to patch up the cracks, lest we leak blood and die. Adequate dietary intake of essential vitamins and minerals can reduce “hardening of the arteries” by reducing the damage to the underlying vascular wall “connective tissue.”
A calcium deficiency also plays a role in the build up of excess body fat and damgerous cholesterol plaques. According to Dr. Michael Zemel (Director of the Univ. of Tennessee Nutrition Institute): "When your body is deprived of calcium, it begins conserving calcium. That mechanism prompts your body to produce higher levels of a hormone called calcitriol, and that triggers an increased production of fat cells." A rise in calcitriol increases the number and size of fat cells. Extra calcium suppresses calcitriol. The body breaks down more fat, and fat cells become leaner. Zemel states that a high-calcium diet can boost weight loss by about 70%. Complex natural dietary sources of calcium are superior to simple calcium mineral supplements.
Dietary antioxidants and proper mineral balance can greatly reduce the damage being done by free radicals. Some natural antioxidants (in fruits with high levels of dark pigments like blueberries, dark grapes, and many other sources) naturally adhere to connective tissue (which is what our blood vessels are made of). Proper antioxidant nutrition neutralizes and eliminates many vascular damage fire starters. The net result: We have fewer fires, and therefore we need fewer cholesterol firemen blocking the street (for the free flow of absolutely essential blood, oxygen, antibodies and nutrients to our hungry cells, tissues and organs).
The extremely serious problem that society faces today is that bright flames and lots of firemen draw a lot of media attention (and funding). Everyone quickly knows when there is a big fire. In contrast, a healthy, happy building does not draw fire alarms or media attention, and few people notice what a great job we are doing at preventing fires in the first place. (Sigh – How sadly misguided our oversimplified instant gratification world has become.)
Drugs (like statins) that prevent the liver from producing cholesterol (firemen) are among the dumbest, unscrupulous things that profit-motivated pharmaceutical companies continue to do. They spend millions of dollars trying to get lazy medical doctors (who fail to keep up with modern research or “integrated medicine”) to prescribe unnatural patented drugs that lower good cholesterol at the same time as lowering total cholesterol.
Egg substitutes and soy cheese are excellent replacements for high-cholesterol whole eggs and high-fat cheese, since both help lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol. The lecithin in eggs and soy products can help slow the aging process and reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and vascular failures like strokes.
For commercially processed foods, read the FDA-mandated label carefully for total cholesterol level and other good and bad fats, but the information on the label is NOT sufficient to make wise decisions. You must also know the good / bad aspects of the foods and how they match your individual nutrition needs. Because, what is good for one may cause disease in another, depending on many genetic, medical and lifestyle factors.
If the LDL in your blood test is not well below 100, or if your LDL / HDL Cholesterol Profile (described above) is not good, then there are basic lifestyle changes that you can make that should greatly reduce your risk of coronary heart disease (the number one killer of Americans through heart attack and stroke).
First of all, strive to eliminate the intake of “trans fatty acids” (described in great detail below). Trans fats are the number one cause of heart disease, EVERYONE should avoid unnatural trans fats.
Second, add beneficial foods to your everyday diet. Each of following foods can help lower your bad cholesterol and improve your LDL / HDL profile by roughly 4% to 7%. By adding all of these foods to your regular diet, clinical tests have shown bad cholesterol reduction of 29% or more. (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/290/4/502 July 23, 2003) A one percent reduction in bad cholesterol can reduce the risk of deadly heart disease by about 2%,
1. Soy protein (45g per day) lowers LDL cholesterol levels. The FDA states that soy protein contributes to heart health. Soy is found in tofu, tasty soy cheese substitutes, soymilk and increasingly popular soy nuts (avoid soy prepared in trans fats or with MSG).
2. Fiber-rich foods are heart healthy. Some types of fiber (viscous or soluble fiber - 20g of soluable fiber per day) have superior properties. They are in fruits like apples, berries (high-pigment berries are also high in antioxidants), vegetables like okra and eggplant, oat bran and barley. Soluble fibers help lower LDL by reducing cholesterol absorption in the body.
3. Plant sterols are found in varying amounts in many vegetable oils (see detailed discussion of omerga-3 versus omega-6 oils below), leafy green vegetables (especially purslane), avocados, and walnuts. Plant sterols help lower bad LDL cholesterol levels without adversely affecting good HDL cholesterol levels. The body assimilates plant sterols the same way it metabolizes dietary sources of animal-based cholesterol, which results in less bad cholesterol to be absorbed.
4. Nuts (like walnuts) provide healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats; these fats may help to lower cholesterol, especially when they are substituted for less healthy saturated fats and deadly trans fats. Nuts also contain beneficial plant sterols (above). Monounsaturated fats decrease LDL without lowering HDL and they help to lower unhealthy triglycerides.
5. Fatty cold water fish like salmon (discussed in detail below) contain very healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease LDL and triglycerides. Omega-3s (also in walnuts) reduce age-accelerating inflammation in blood vessels. Inflammation reduction further decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association currently recommends consuming omega-3 rich fish at least twice per week. Similar benefits can be obtained by taking a salmon oil food supplement or eating a few walnuts when you do not eat fresh salmon.
In addition to eliminating trans fats and adding foods that improve your LDL / HDL cholesterol profile every day, regular aerobic exercise increases good HDL cholesterol and further reduces your risk of suffering the anguish of debilitating heart disease (unnecessary pain and a huge burden on you AND your loved ones).
Four large clinical trials now show that there is a much better measure of heart-disease risk than cholesterol levels or LDL / HDL ratio. The new test is called “apolipoprotein” (Apo).
More scientists have won Nobel Prizes by studying cholesterol than any other molecule. But science has marched on. At one time, scientists thought that the “atom” was the smallest element. Then we learned about electrons, protons and neutrons, and now science understands even smaller particles. The same is true about cholesterol. It was broken down into LDL and HDL, and now Apo has been studied extensively, but many medical doctors and clinical labs have yet to take advantage of the latest scientific evidence.
Apolipoproteins are tiny fat particles in the blood. High apolipoprotein B (ApoB) indicates a high risk of clogged arteries and heart attack. According to Allan Sniderman, MD, and colleagues, high ApoB predicts heart disease even better than a high level of "bad" LDL cholesterol. This international group of experts also argues that the ratio of ApoB to ApoA-I tells doctors more than the ratio of LDL / HDL cholesterol.
"The measurement of apolipoproteins should now be introduced broadly into clinical practice," Sniderman and colleagues write in the March 1 issue of The Lancet.
The new test should be particularly helpful for patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Many studies have shown that total cholesterol and even LDL cholesterol levels do not do a good job of predicting heart disease risk in these patients. For these individuals, measuring ApoB and the ApoB / ApoA1 ratio may be superior.
Good tests for Apo already exist. They are simpler than cholesterol tests, since the patient does not need to fast before giving a blood sample. So why aren't most medical doctors already using the Apo tests?
"The importance of cholesterol is densely entrenched within the medical profession and lay public," Sniderman and colleagues note. "The pace of change will be determined, in part at least, by how resistant conventional belief is to emerging clinical evidence."
ApoB is a cholesterol particle that is believed to promote heart disease by affecting how cholesterol is transported in arteries and other tissues. This “atherogenic” (artery-clogging) particle is found not only in LDL, but also in very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDL), which are potentially "bad" cholesterols that can increase the risk for deadly heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
On the other hand, apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I) is a protective, anti-atherogenic particle found in the beneficial, heart-healthy HDL. One of the largest studies of its kind, the AMORIS (Apoliprotein-related MOrtality RISk) study measured levels of cholesterol particles ApoA-I, ApoB, and other lipid risk factors, in more than 175,000 men and women. Based on an average follow-up of about five and a half years, researchers calculated the relationship between these markers and the chances of suffering a fatal heart attack.
Their final results show that persons with the greatest risk of dying from a heart attack tend to have the highest ratios of apoB to apoA-I, which is a more accurate predictive marker for a future fatal heart attack than LDL / HDL ratio or triglycerides.
Men with the highest apoB / apoA-I ratios had nearly quadruple the risk of suffering a fatal heart attack as those with the lowest ratios. In women the increased risk was three-fold.
The AMORIS study found that increased risk associated with imbalances of these lipid particles held true not only for people under 70, but for those over 70 as well - a group in which total cholesterol levels are not considered to be accurate risk indicators for heart attack. The cholesterol test you and your doctor are probably familiar with is known as a Lipid Panel showing HDL, LDL, VLDL and triglycerides. It turns out that this common set of blood test is far less effective at diagnosing and treating many potential heart disease problems than the newest Apo tests. Even among patients that were already identified as having heart disease, the Lipid Panel only indicated that 20% of them had abnormal levels of cholesterol.
Importantly, ApoB appears to be a much better predictor of fatal heart attack risk in those people who have normal-to-low LDL cholesterol levels. This represents approximately one half the total population, the researchers estimated. ApoB may also better identify high-risk individuals with diabetes and insulin resistance, who tend to have heart disease characterized by VLDL or IDL particles, as well as LDL.
"This finding is of great clinical significance…" the researchers noted. Based on their "comprehensive" and "truly representative" results, they urged that apoB and apoA-I "be regarded as valuable risk markers in updates of guidelines…for diagnosis and treatment of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk related to abnormal lipid metabolism."
A related commentary by Dr. Gerald Berenson and Dr. Sithanur Srinivasan of Tulane Center for Cardiovascular Health and Department of Epidemiology underscores the potential importance of the Apo markers in assessing coronary risk. Apolipoproteins can improve clinical insight of better detecting patients with an "atherogenic phenotype," whose LDL, though at normal levels, could be comprised by smaller, denser - and ultimately more dangerous Apo lipid particles.
Physician Test: The next time a physician orders a Lipid Panel for you, ask if they are familiar with apolipoprotein (Apo) ratios. If not, consider finding a better-informed physician, who takes the time to read modern medical literature and integrate it into their clinical practice.
Cardiovascular disease is a result of a complex interaction of inherited susceptibility, environmental and lifestyle choice issues like nutrition, exercise and stress management. Each one of us is as unique as our fingerprints. What works well for one may not be effective for others. The vast majority of individuals who die from coronary artery disease do NOT have high cholesterol levels.
There are multiple cardiovascular conditions with a hereditary genetic component that can increase the risk of heart disease and early death. It is extremely important to gather a complete and accurate family history of heart disease in blood relatives. Inherited improper lipid metabolism (resulting in bad Apo ratios, etc.) can be diagnosed using the best-available modern laboratory tests (which many cardiologists still do not understand). Many of the newest tests are proprietary, NOT industry standards. Knowing which tests to use for different individuals a set of advanced skills that are rare in the medical profession, even among cardiology specialists.
This topic is a very significant issue. It has been estimated by some researchers that perhaps as many as one in four individuals have a genetic tendency to poor lipid metabolism. Family history is one of several factors that signal the need to do more aggressive testing. Once a genetic metabolic defect has been detected, it becomes even more important to aggressively improve lifestyle choices and advanced risk factor blood monitoring.
Even if you have not inherited a tendency toward improper lipid metabolism, it is still very important to understand the good-versus-bad fat issues and risk factors introduced in this Joyful Aging material, especially avoiding all hydrogenated trans fatty acids.
For example, familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCHL) is one of the most common hereditary lipid metabolic disorders associated with premature heart disease. People with this genetic characteristic typically have high ApoB. Purnell, et.al. analyzed the relationship between insulin resistance and increased ApoB levels. Fat around the midsection and under the skin was measured, as were insulin sensitivity and fasting lipoprotein levels. Body mass index and midsection fat were higher and insulin sensitivity lower in those with FCHL. Midsection fat was found to be significantly related to insulin sensitivity. For any level of insulin sensitivity, ApoB levels remained higher in the subjects that had inherited FCHL. The authors concluded that obesity around the organs, called “visceral obesity”, is an important determinant of insulin. (Relationship of Insulin Sensitivity and ApoB Levels to Intra-Abdominal Fat in Subjects With FCHL, published by Purnell, J.Q., Kahn, S.E., Schwartz, R.S., et al., in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 21(4))
The Purnell, et.al. findings underscore the importance of controlling body fat, specifically the type of body fat stored around the waist, which appears to increase insulin resistance (as in overweight type II diabetics). It is well known that obesity is a risk factor for insulin resistant age-onset diabetes, and diabetes is a risk factor for fatal heart disease. If a lipid metabolism genetic defect (as in one fourth of the population) is combined with these risk factors, we have a very serious health issue to deal with.
A low-carbohydrate diet has been shown to help reduce visceral obesity and insulin resistance, and thus decrease the risk of morbidity associated with high ApoB. Controlled carbohydrate nutrition also normally lowers triglycerides and cholesterol, and improves lipid metabolism and LDL / HDL cholesterol profile (discussed above), which further reduces the risk of age-onset diabetes and deadly coronary heart disease. Lifestyle improvements (nutrition, exercise, mental attitude and risk avoidance) appear to be beneficial for most individuals with-and-without lipid metabolism genetic defects. Some lifestyle changes may me more effective than others, depending on genetics and cumulative risk factors. When specific tests (laboratory blood tests, weight, blood pressure, energy level, neurological disorders, etc.) indicate elevated risk, try multiple proven lifestyle improvements and monitor your risk factors closely
Palmitic acid and stearic acid have carbon chains that are completely and evenly filled with hydrogen atoms. In other words, the chains are “saturated” with hydrogen. Fats (triglycerides) that contain palmitic acid and stearic acid are therefore known as “saturated fats.” Most fats made up of saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature, (except for unhealthy tropical oils like coconut and palm oil, which are undesirable liquid saturated fats used as an inexpensive movie-theater butter substitute, baked goods, etc.).
For many years, medical professionals incorrectly believed that foods high in saturated fats tend to raise blood cholesterol. These foods include high-fat dairy products (like cheese, cream, ice cream, butter, and whole milk), fatty / marbled flesh (especially processed meats), the skin and fat of poultry and lard. A quarter pound stick of butter has almost as much fat and cholesterol and double the amount of saturated fat as three popular quarter-pound burgers with cheese. This is something to keep in mind if grandma’s wonderful recipe calls for a whole stick of butter. A single slice of pizza is similar to the fats and flour found a quarter pound cheeseburger. Few people would consider eating three or four large cheeseburgers, but how many uninformed people have you seen eat three or four slices of cheesy pizza? Can you imagine anyone ever going to a pizza buffet?
In addition to the cardiovascular issues, saturated fats can also increase the risk of colon and prostate cancer. For many years, we have been told that we should minimize intake of foods that are high in saturated fats, but here again, there are old, “overly simplistic”, traditional, misinformed points of view, which are in direct conflict with modern scientific research results and epidemiological public health studies.
It is not understood or agreed by many medical professionals, but some authorities suggest that diets with significant cholesterol and saturated fats are less detrimental IF you also have a diet rich in antioxidants and you minimize intake of high glycemic index (rapid blood sugar release) carbohydrates, which overloads the liver as it tries to convert blood sugar into energy storage fats.
Recent research has shown that one third of the fat in a beef steak or pure lard will raise your bad LDL cholesterol, which can clog arteries. BUT beef can also raise your good HDL, which helps purge vascular plaques, heart disease and stroke. The remaining two thirds of the fats in beef steak will IMPROVE your HDL / LDL cholesterol profile (good news along with the bad).
It is highly controversial, and NOT understood by the uninformed majority of medical professionals, dietitians and government agency officials, but the latest research now suggests that the net effect of eating pure lard may REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE, STROKE and DIABETES. At first, this appears to go against everything we have been (incorrectly) told for many years about not eating fat, UNTIL you fully understand the clinically proven scientific truth:
In the highly respected Mayo Clinic Proceedings, November 2003; vol 78, Dr. James Hays (a distinguished Endocrinologist, who specializes in diabetes research) published his study that details the effects of a no-starch, high-fat diet on patients at risk for diabetes. All were overweight, taking cholesterol-lowering prescription statin drugs, and had been diagnosed with heart disease. Under Hays' plan, half of the daily 1,800 calories are intentionally designed to come from saturated fats - mostly red meats and cheese. "We're not talking about protein, egg whites, and turkey and white-meat chicken," he says. "We're talking about fat."
According to Hayes: "Cholesterol leaves our body through bile, and high-fat foods cause bile secretion" which purges cholesterol, rather than increasing it. "Although I would caution that this is genetically determined, I think that most people are able to excrete huge amounts of cholesterol they're consuming with this bile secretion."
"We also saw a significant drop in glucose and insulin levels," Higher blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels indicate the early signs of diabetes. Low-carbohydrate, high-saturated-fat diets can reduce the signs of diabetes,
(1) reduce or eliminate the need for diabetic medications,
(2) reduce the risk of heart disease (heart attack and stroke) and
(3) in general reduce the rate of aging in most individuals (depending on unique genetic characteristics, enzyme, bile and insulin production / resistance, etc.”
One of the multiple factors that influence the effectiveness of a high-fat diet is age. This includes actual age, and the individual’s rate of aging (as determined by a combination of inherited genetics and many lifestyle choices). As we age (chronologically or biologically), we may produce less of a variety of essential bodily fluids, like hormones, neurotransmitters, digestive juices, insulin, bile, etc. A person who is aging rapidly, due to many bad lifestyle choices, like poor nutrition, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking, exposure to avoidable pollutants and toxins is likely to produce less insulin and vital bile acids. For such an uninformed person with many bad lifestyle habits, a high-fat diet may indeed be detrimental, since the normal response of increased bile production may not occur in sufficient amount to lower total harmful cholesterol. It is important to note that many people over 70 years of age with excellent lifestyle habits are biologically much younger than people who are 25 years younger.
It is VERY important to note that a high fat diet is NOT good for everyone. Some people do not produce sufficient bile to break up saturated fats (as in the Hayes study above). Some have other types of metabolic defects or surgeries that impact digestion and assimilation of some types of fat. This is not new news. The 1999 edition of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution book pointed out that most (but not all) low carbohydrate dieters had a reduction in bad cholesterol levels. However, the book clearly acknowledged that cholesterol increases for about one in three dieters. The Atkins book says that people who experience an increase in cholesterol should: "eat only the lean proteins - turkey roll, skinless chicken breast, fish, farmer cheese, lean cuts of meat and so on - but do not increase your carbohydrate intake more than 5 grams.” It is important to monitor cholesterol and other blood chemistry when making significant changes in diet (exercise, stress level, etc.), since different individuals react in different ways at different stages in life. THERE IS NO SINGLE SOLUTION FOR EVERYONE.
Changing ones lifestyle by improving nutrition (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, protein), reduction of: high-glycemic index foods, pollutants, toxins, carcinogens, etc., and improving healthy exercise, may increase the production of essential bodily fluids, including vital bile acids, etc. Indiscriminate lifestyle changes and self medication without proper monitoring may work for some people, but be very bad for other individuals. For example, increasing iron intake help many younger people, but can be deadly for some older individuals.
Since the value of a high-fat diet is unique to specific individuals, absolute recommendations cannot be made for everyone, but they appear to apply to the majority, with some (but not all) of the known exceptions noted above.
Due to different types of individual variations, Dr. Hayes advises that people on a high-fat diet should closely monitor their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. We strongly agree with this professional medical suggestion from a distinguished endocrinology research scientist. Biological (clinical test) feedback is absolutely essential, so you can know if the lifestyle changes you make are good or bad for your unique physical characteristics. Measuring the success of a diet with a bathroom scale is shortsighted and overly simplistic.
In summary, the previous paragraphs are NOT meant to encourage everyone to eat a high-cholesterol, high-saturated-fat diet.
It must be pointed out that large quantities of bile acids can be chemically altered by bacteria into substances that may promote colon cancer. Taking an enzyme supplement that contains bovine bile may in some cases do more harm than good.
A diet that contains certain kinds of vegetable fiber can bind with bile acids and help purge them more rapidly from the intestines (Kritchevsky D. Diet, nutrition, and cancer: the role of fiber). Bacteria in the colon ferment the fiber creating a more acidic environment, which may make bile acids less toxic. Simply eating large quantities of saturated fat may be effective in lowering cholesterol in some individuals, but most of us also need more low-glycemic-index, complex vegetable fiber to keep our digestive system in a non-toxic healthy balance. Products like flour deprive us of the natural fiber and can increase the risk of several types of cancer.
The lifelong learning goal of this section is merely to point out that “all things considered,” eating reasonable levels of meats (as did our ancient carnivorous ancestors) may not be as unhealthy as some doctors, dietitians, vegans and government agencies have been incorrectly saying for the last fifteen years (they often only see the final symptom of cholesterol, without perceiving the long-term cause-and-effect relationship of discriminate eating of “good” fats).
Intake of dietary cholesterol and saturated fats may need to be limited for some individuals, as described above, but there does NOT seem to be any solid scientific clinical evidence that most people should avoid meat altogether (other than for personal religious convictions). If you strongly believe that you should avoid animal products, you MUST be extremely careful to eat a diet rich in foundational amino acid building blocks, without consuming too much carbohydrate (which can quickly turn into disease-causing body fats). Again, regular blood testing can help determine your individual nutritional requirements.
The indiscriminate detrimental overstatement that “everyone should avoid meat and saturated fats” is arguably incorrect, overly simplistic and even deadly for some. Let’s consider another example where many people should increase dietary intake of saturated fat. The following is based on: http://web.aces.uiuc.edu/faq/faq.pdl?project_id=5&faq_id=566
Lecithin (one of the byproducts produced when soy beans are processed) is used in some foods as an emulsifying agent (emulsifiers help keep the fat from separating). Soy lecithin food supplements are widely consumed for a variety of health reasons, since lecithin has been clinically shown to lower bad cholesterol and improve memory and liver functions.
The average American eats about 3 grams of lecithin per day. The richest natural sources of lecithin are from foods that are also high in fat and cholesterol, such as eggs and beef liver, but other foods such as beans, some nuts, beefsteak and some fruits and vegetables are lesser sources.
Eggs contain a significant amount of lecithin. Egg yolks are high in cholesterol. If you eat a whole egg, the lecithin helps reduce the negative impact of the egg yolk. If you eat only the egg white, the lecithin may help REMOVE heart-disease-causing LDL cholesterol from your tissues and also help boost your desirable HDL. Soy lecithin functions similar to egg lecithin to help reduce the risk of deadly heart disease, the number one killer of Americans.
Lecithin also contains choline, which was recently determined to be an essential nutrient for humans, and for which recommended intakes were issued by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. The tolerable upper intake level of choline was set at 3.5g/day for adults (Food and Nutrition Board, 1998).
Lecithin has been examined for its ability to lower bad cholesterol and improve the healthy LDL / HDL cholesterol profile in humans. One clinical trial involved 32 patients who were given approximately 3.5 grams (1 teaspoon) of soy lecithin 3 times per day before meals for 30 days. Their average total cholesterol decreased by 33%, LDL was decreased 38% and HDL was increased 46%. In addition, unhealthy triglyceride saturated fats were reduced by 33%. Another study suggests lecithin may reduce heart disease risk by inhibiting intestinal absorption of ingested animal source cholesterol (thus increasing its excretion) and also have a positive influence on lipoprotein profiles.
Lecithin is being studied with regard to its effect on memory function. Other potential benefits of lecithin may include a role in liver and reproductive health, and improved physical performance in certain activities. In one study, healthy adults fed a diet without choline for a few weeks showed early signs of liver dysfunction. Other studies have shown that supplementation with choline improved the times of long-distance runners, and that lecithin may restore normal movement and structure to sperm cells in vitro.
Soy Lecithin is "Generally Recognized As Safe" (GRAS) by the FDA for supplements up to 13.5 grams per day (2 tablespoons). Because many individuals have decreased their intake of some of foods that are rich in lecithin (like red meat and eggs), their intake of healthy lecithin has also decreased.
Here is the counterintuitive kicker: Liquid Soy Lecithin is 50% SATURATED FAT! (Just like the effective diet developed by Dr. James Hayes, above.) In some cases described above, MANY PEOPLE (but not all) SHOULD EAT MORE SATURATED FAT TO MAKE THEM MORE HEALTHY.
Soy lecithin and egg lecithin may be better for most people than eating beef lard or liver lecithin, BUT, eating a low carbohydrate, low glycemic index diet that includes some good saturated fats may improve your LDL / HDL ratio, and thus some saturated fats may REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART ATTACK AND STROKE (in many individuals, depending on a variety of unique genetic and metabolic factors).
There seems to be nothing wrong with most people eating meat in the quantities that our earliest carnivorous ancestors did (although genetic variations make this statement less than universal), as long as the meat is part of a balanced diet with dietary fiber, antioxidants, fruits, vegetables, etc. It is certainly much easier to get the balanced set of all essential amino acids than an all-vegetarian diet (which normally lacks sufficient “lysine,” “methionine,” and “tryptophan” that are rare in most plant proteins).
Confusing, ain’t it! - Controversial, TO BE SURE! The naive, misinformed majority disagrees about (or doesn’t comprehend) the HEALTH BENEFITS of eating saturated fats that we just discussed. BUT, our Joyful Aging material is based on excellent recent scientific medical research results, which are NOT understood by the majority of medical professionals, dietitians and government bureaucrats who are incorrectly telling Americans what to eat, or prescribing UNNATURAL, patented, expensive, dangerous, profit-making prescription drugs. (How very sad for the general public health.) If you are overweight (as most Americans are), if you have signs of diabetes or heart disease, begin to monitor your body signs very closely and give consideration to the many benefits of consumption of “good” fats, versus “bad” fats (like pervasive unhealthy trans fatty acids, discussed in detail below).
Oleic acid (introduced above) is not “saturated with hydrogen.” Two of the carbon atoms are connected by a double bond, and two of the hydrogen atoms are missing (as compared to saturated fats). Thus, oleic acid is said to be “unsaturated.” Fats that have a lot of oleic acid in them are liquid at room temperature, and are therefore are known as “oils.”
Unsaturated fats do NOT raise blood cholesterol. Unsaturated fats occur in vegetable oils, most nuts, olives, avocados, and cold-water fatty fish like sardines, salmon, mackerel, etc.
Unsaturated oils include both “monounsaturated fats” and “polyunsaturated fats.” Oleic acid, because it contains only one double bond, is referred to as monounsaturated. Fatty acids that have multiple double bonds, like linoleic acid are polyunsaturated, which are also liquid oils at room temperature.
Polyunsaturated fats can be transformed by food processing, storage, exposure to alcohol, and by endogenous compounds and metabolic processes within the body, into unhealthy “lipid peroxides” (harmful oxidizers found in rancid fats and improperly stored prepared foods). The combination of ethanol (drinking alcohol) plus (otherwise healthy) polyunsaturated fats (like corn oil) produces liver damage (steatosis), and an elevated risk of cancerous DNA damage. If the level of alcohol consume is constant, the risk of liver damage increases with the amount of unsaturated fat consumed. In this case, UNSATURATED FATS (which most professional dietitians consider “healthy) are actually EXTREMELY UNHEALTHY.
Thus, unsaturated fats are unhealthy for the large number of people who unwisely consume alcohol. It is interesting to note that ethanol plus saturated fat produces less liver damage than does ethanol plus unsaturated fats. For multiple reasons, the consumption of significant amounts of alcohol measurably increases the rate of aging and the risk of a variety of devastating diseases, tissue-and-organ damage, vascular damage, and nerve death (neuropathy, dementia, etc. Eating saturated fat and no alcohol may be healthier for many individuals than drinking alcohol and eating unsaturated fats (depending on individual genetic metabolic and other lifestyle variations).
Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats can be transformed into deadly “trans fats” (discussed below) during food processing. Lipid peroxides and unnatural trans fats can slowly and cumulatively damage human health through many different mechanisms.
Olive, canola (rape seed), soybean, sunflower, and peanut oils are high in monounsaturated fats. Vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed oils and many kinds of nuts contain polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated oils are significantly better for your health than deadly trans fatty acids (found in shortening, margarine, fried and baked goods, etc.). BUT, the benefits of unsaturated oils are replaced by serious risk factors IF you consume alcohol, store them improperly, or use them to cook at high temperatures.
The most common natural fatty acids are found in animal fats including: palmitic, stearic and oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acid). Your body transforms food into these fats as a form of high-density energy storage, whenever it has an abundance of blood sugar (serum glucose level). (See Sugar) That is why low carbohydrate intake reduces stored body fat.
Eating sugar and flour makes you fatter. Eating fat doesn’t make you as fat as fast as carbohydrates do. The issue that is misunderstood by the misinformed majority is NOT calorie intake as much as it is individual biochemical metabolism. It is NOT what you eat, but rather what you ultimately absorb and retain that is really important to Joyful Aging.
Many people incorrectly think that body fats increase with the consumption of all fats (since fats have more than twice the calories per gram than carbohydrates do). But actually, it is sugar that converts into stored body fats much faster than ingested fats. The sugar-to-fat metabolic process is easier and faster than digesting and metabolizing dietary fats into sugars, and then converting the resulting sugars into stored body fats.
If blood sugar (serum glucose) levels drop (due to reduced carbohydrate intake or heavy exercise) the body goes into a slow metabolic mode (called ketosis), where stored body fat is slowly converted back into a usable form of energy (ketones). Ketosis is absolutely necessary for anyone who needs to lose unhealthy body fat (especially visceral obesity discussed above). When we consume excess carbohydrates (especially those with a high glycemic index), the carbohydrates turn into excess blood sugar, which will increase our insulin production and our body fat storage.
Six percent of Americans carry a genetic blueprint that greatly increases their risk of heart disease. Eating good fats, and avoiding bad ones, can eliminate much of the risk.
The heart-disease gene types (variant forms of a normal gene) are more common among blacks, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and other racial or ethnic groups than among Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. But some people of all races seem to carry the gene variants.
These heart disease genes cause thickening of arteries. A diet high in meat fats can increase the bad effects of the inherited gene forms. But, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, mackerel, lake trout, walnuts, canola oil (rapeseed), flaxseed, soybeans, tofu) reduces the negative heart disease risk factors.
Raffaele De Caterina, MD, PhD, and Antonella Zampolli, PhD, of Italy's National Research Council write "These findings suggest that the (heart-protective) effects of (oils) derived from fish might be more prominent in (or perhaps limited to) persons with (the gene variants)," January 1, 2004, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
The Origins of Heart Disease
The findings come from a groundbreaking study that pulls back the covers shrouding the mysterious origins of heart disease. James H. Dwyer, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Southern California and UCLA knew that mice lacking the 5-lipoxygenase gene were nearly immune to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
To find out whether this gene was important in human disease, they analyzed a racially diverse group of 470 healthy, middle-aged men and women. They found that 6% of these people had a variant form of the gene. Apparently, these gene variants increased a person's 5-lipoxygenase activity. Theoretically, increased 5-lipoxygenase activity would cause cells of the immune system to accumulate inside artery walls. As they accumulate, they cause inflammation and promote the accumulation of cholesterol molecules in the artery wall. Over time, the buildup of artery-clogging plaque leads to heart disease.
People with the gene variants have much thicker artery walls than those with normal forms of the 5-lipoxygenase gene. Artery wall thickness is a measure of cardiovascular disease.
Nutrition and Genetics Are Linked Together
5-lipoxygenase is an enzyme that breaks down fats (particularly arachidonic acid, which comes mainly from fatty red meat) into substances that cause inflammation, cholesterol build up and artery wall thickening. They reasoned that the more arachidonic acid a person with the gene variant ate, the more signs of heart disease they'd find. In the study, they found that people with the gene variant were particularly sensitive to the heart-clogging effects of a diet high in arachidonic acid.
The study offers good news. People with the gene variant were also particularly sensitive to the healthy effects of diets high in fish oils. Those who ate the most of these oils were able to blunt the effects of their genetic tendency toward heart disease. They suggest: "These findings could lead to new dietary and targeted molecular approaches to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease according to genotype, particularly in populations of non-European descent."
Knowing that you have a heart disease gene variant should give you strong motivation to improve your nutrition, but even without DNA testing, eating good fats should be a good thing for intelligent, informed people to do. Essential Fatty Acids are important for everyone.
In addition to common palmitic, stearic and oleic acid, there is an important class of long chain fatty acids called “essential fatty acids” (EFA’s are sometimes referred to as “vitamin F”). The word “essential” means “indispensable,” “of the utmost importance,” we cannot live without EFA’s.
A deficiency of EFA’s is linked to a variety of diseases and mental imbalance, including depression. In a study involving people with recurrent depression, researchers investigated the effects of a specific omega-3 fatty acid, known as E-EPA. Patients randomly received either the fish oil capsule or a placebo.
After four weeks, sixty percent of patients receiving E-EPA had significantly reduced symptoms of depression. According to Dr. Boris Nemets, MD in the American Journal of Psychiatry: "The effect of E-EPA was significant from week two of treatment." Depressed mood, guilt feelings, worthlessness, and insomnia were all improved.
The patients in this study were depressed despite the antidepressant medication they were taking. They were having what psychiatrists call "breakthrough depression" - they were not improving during their current episode of depression, despite an increase in their anti-depression medication, better compliance with taking the medication, and more frequent visits for supportive psychotherapy.
For a variety of important physical and mental reasons, humans MUST have EFA’s, but our bodies cannot make their own EFA’s, so EFA’s must be in the foods we eat. A “no fat diet” will kill a human (and most other animals)!
The healthy diet requirement for essential fatty acids is 10 to 20 percent of our total calorie intake. (Some qualified endocrinologists recommend even more.) Misinformed health professionals, dietitians and government agencies that recommend that everyone’s total fat intake should be less than 20% of daily caloric intake, simply do NOT understand fat metabolism and the critical importance of essential fatty acids, as well as other sources of beneficial fats.
The natural form of “vitamin F” is found in many vegetables and vegetable oils (excluding unhealthy saturated tropical oils like coconut and palm oil). Essential fatty acids have many desirable effects that can measurably reduce a variety of potential health problems. EFA’s lower unhealthy cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, which significantly reduces the risk of deadly heart attack, devastating brain stroke and deep depression.
EFA’s aid in the prevention of arthritis. EFA’s reduce the growth rate of breast cancer and help eczema, psoriasis, and arteriosclerosis. EFA’s reduce the rate of aging of many types body tissues and organs, (most visibly the skin). EFA’s are needed in high concentrations in the brain, where they reduce the rate of neuron aging, aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, and are critical to normal brain function (including mood and attitude). EFA’s are needed to treat candidiasis (gastrointestinal yeast infection), coronary heart disease (especially for people with heart disease gene variants discussed above), and to reduce the risk of deadly blood clot formation, particularly after an injury. Insufficient EFA’s, or an improper balance of different types of EFA’s can complicate the above diseases. REJECT THE GROSSLY MISINFORMED INPUT OF ANYONE WHO RECCOMMENDS A “NO-FAT” OR VERY “LOW-FAT” DIET. Humans MUST consume “good” fats, while avoiding deadly “bad” fats – LEARN THE CRITICAL DIFFERENCE!
In the pursuit of lifelong learning, intelligent people need to understand the critical basics about Essential Fatty Acids. EFA’s fall into two groups - Omega-3 and Omega-6. EFA’s:
Linoleic acid (LA)
Arachidonic acid (ARA)
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
Dihomogamma linolenic acid (DGLA)
Alpha linolenic acid (LNA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
The “3” and the “6” are chemical notations that refer to the first carbon double bond position on the fatty acid chain. All Essential Fatty Acids are polyunsaturated (liquid oils), so the 3 and the 6 mean that the first double bond is either 3 or 6 carbons in from the end.
As discussed above, ethanol (drinking alcohol) converts good unsaturated fats and EFA’s into bad compounds that damage tissues and organs. Alcohol changes EFA’s into unhealthy aging accelerators. The processes of hydrogenating good oils and high-temperature cooking (frying, baking, etc.) turn beneficial EFA’s into killer “trans fats” (discussed in detail below). Consuming large quantities of alcohol, hydrogenated oils (which are in MOST modern processed foods) or the common practice of high-temperature cooking accelerate aging – just like committing incremental suicide on the installment plan.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are more vulnerable to free radical oxidation than any other macromolecules in the body. That is why a combination of antioxidants PLUS EFA’s are much healthier than consumption of either one alone. For example, studies have monitored the health benefits of salmon oil food supplements and natural vitamin E (d alpha tocopherol). When either one was consumed alone, there were benefits as compared to the control group that received neither. But when both omega-3 fatty acids plus natural vitamin E were consumed together, the health benefit statistics nearly doubled. This is due (in part) to the fact that the oil-soluble vitamin E helps reduce the oxidation of the beneficial omega-3 EFA.
It is important to note that polyunsaturated fatty acids (EFA’s, and other fats) are degraded by exposure to: heat, oxygen and ultraviolet radiation (sunlight). Oil soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), food supplements and food oils should be stored in airtight, dark containers below room temperature (i.e., refrigerated). Note that many food oils are poorly packaged in containers that allow ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) to damage the product, and most people incorrectly store them at room temperature, or above a cook stove. Unhealthy hydrogenated food oils have already been turned into dangerous trans fats. They have already “gone bad” (intentionally) by the way they are produced. Since (preserved) trans fat oils are relatively stable, they were often packed in clear containers. The public got used to seeing oils in clear containers. When healthier (but less stable) non-hydrogenated food oils (like canola oil) were brought to the market, vendors incorrectly used the same type of clear containers as were used for hydrogenated trans fats. To help correct this common product-packaging mistake, store all of your EFA’s in the refrigerator, away from cook-stove-and-dishwasher heat, and sunlight. Make sure that the airtight lids is on tight after use. When using the product, open the lid briefly and replace it immediately (and return the product to the refrigerator) to minimize oxidation and moisture condensation inside the cool container. These habits will improve the shelf life of the product.
Beneficial EFA food oils should be used for UNHEATED dressings and sauces, instead of cooking, frying, baking, etc. The higher the temperature, and the longer they are heated, the more molecules are converted into saturated trans fats. For example: consuming cold-processed canola oil (from rapeseed) as a salad dressing is beneficial in many ways. Frying in any kind of oil (even canola) is unhealthy. As a less-than-perfect compromise, quick-flash stir-frying BELOW 250 degrees Fahrenheit (120 Celsius – slightly above the boiling point of water) for a few seconds is better than higher temperature deep fat frying for longer periods. Do not preheat the oil above 250 degrees.
The following educational information explains why the difference between omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids is so very important. This relatively new scientific knowledge is significant to your health and to your Joyful Aging nutrition choices. It is critical information that grandma could not teach your mother, since it was not available years ago.
Omega-6 essential fatty acids (LA, ARA, GLA, DGLA) are commonly found in: olive oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil (peanut butter), pumpkin seed oil, sesame oil, borage oil, cotton seed oil, etc. Because they are all polyunsaturated liquid oils with no cholesterol in them, it was once believed (and taught by naive dietitians) that these omega-6 sources SHOULD be used as a primary source of dietary fat intake.
Pervasive food providers (like McDonald’s ®) were encouraged to stop frying in beef lard (a high-cholesterol, saturated fat, “free” byproduct of the hamburger business) and begin using more-expensive vegetable oils like all of the above. This naive dietitian campaign was effective over time, but NOW WE HAVE GONE WAY TOO FAR, AND AMERICANS ARE CONSUMING WAY TOO MUCH OMEGA-6 FATTY ACID, which causes many other health problems.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids (LNA, EPA, DHA) are much less common than omega-6 vegetable oil EFA’s, especially in the extremely unhealthy average American diet.
According to studies conducted by the World Health Organization, the United States of American is ranked a dismal 24th in LFE EXPECTANCY. On average, Americans spend more time disabled and die earlier than citizens of most other advanced nations (who spend far less on healthcare than we do). Other nations focus on disease prevention, whereas American healthcare focuses on maximizing income for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, instead of having healthier citizens.
Japan is ranked number one as the healthiest nation, with the longest average life expectancy. Americans should pay more attention to what has been clearly proven to be much more effective than the average American lifestyle, and our expensive/ineffective healthcare system.
Despite the fact that Japanese people smoke much more and have higher blood pressure than average Americans, Japanese people still live much longer, healthier lives than do Americans. The traditional Japanese diet, which is rich in multiple marine products (fish, sea weed, algae, etc.), results in Japanese people consuming TEN TIMES MORE OMEGA-3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS than almost all Americans. There is a very strong statistical correlation between blood level of omega-3, and health, well-being, mood, and especially longevity.
This is an extremely important lifestyle choice, that very few Americans understand. For example, naive American women spend huge sums of money on cosmetics trying to cover up their wrinkled aging skin. The wrinkles are caused (in large part) by insufficient omega-3 in their blood stream. The wrinkles can be seen externally, but the same thing is also happening to every organ inside the body. American woman should spend far less than they do on cosmetics (which merely cover up accelerated aging caused by a low omega-3 diet) They need to pay more attention to consuming the proper amount of omeg-3 EFA so their skin would have fewer wrinkles and live happier, healthier, longer lives than average Americans.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids have a powerful protective effect on the brain and entire body. Americans consume far too much bad fat and not nearly enough (unpolluted) good omega-3 EFA’s, which the brain and body must have to remain healthy.
Harvard psychiatry professor Andrew L. Stoll, MD, (author of The Omega-3 Connection), recommends that American adults take omega-3 foods and food supplements, and reduce consumption of foods containing omega-6 fats, such as foods fried in corn, peanut, and soybean oils. (See above omega-discussion).
Cold-water fatty fish like salmon, white albacore tuna, mackerel, lake trout, anchovies, herring and sardines have high omega-3 EFA levels (EPA and DHA), but our increasingly polluted international waters also introduce deadly toxins like mercury, PCBs, dioxins, Dieldrin, and Toxaphene to many sources of otherwise healthy fish.
In a later section of this material, we will discuss recent findings about cancer-causing toxins that are commonly found in most fish. ESPECIALLY farm raised fish (like salmon), which are fed ground fish greatly concentrate their recycled industrial toxins. Farm raised fish also typically have much lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids than those that roam freely in the cold deep oceans. Most of today’s grocery store and fish market products are much less desirable than the wild fish available 100 years ago. Many should be completely avoided, especially by pregnant and nursing mothers.
So, if our fish are dangerously toxic, what can we do to get the EFA’s that we so desperately need? One option to obtain valuable DHA and EPA is to use high-quality, unpolluted salmon (and other fish) oil supplements. The problem is that the U.S. government has no agency to test over-the-counter products to verify that what is in them matches their label. There is no requirement to label the source of the product (farm raised, open ocean, etc.). There is no requirement to test and publish the content of toxins, which vary widely from vendor to vendor, and batch to batch within a single vendor. It is very sad, but over time, many food supplements have been found to be quite harmful. Only a small percentage of the bad ones have been recalled after damaging and even killing many people. Intelligent consumers should lobby for superior consumer protection, but until it improves, we can only carefully read the labels and “hope” that we are getting what they say. In general, products that come from polluted water and farm-raised fish are at best hit or miss, primarily due to the unknown toxins they contain. Luckily, we have vegetable-based alternatives to fish-based DHA and EPA EFA’s:
Significant amounts of omega-3 (in the form of LNA) are found in: walnuts, canola oil (rapeseed), flaxseed, and soybeans (tofu), pecans (1/10 as much as walnuts) and pumpkin seeds. Other nuts and seeds contain minimal (or no) omega-3 EFA’s, but walnuts are by far the richest of the nut sources. A handful of walnuts a day supplies all of the omega-3 EFA’s that our body needs.
Some dark green leafy vegetables (especially purslane) and sea vegetables (like kelp) are good sources of omega-3 EFA’s. Algae and seaweed are the primary source of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish Healthy Japanese people consume large amounts of these marine products.
The three most nutritionally important omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (LNA). Highly-beneficial EPA and DHA omega-3 EFA’s are derived directly from certain foods, most notably cold-water fish including salmon, tuna, halibut, and herring. Certain types of algae and seaweed contain DHA. Fish eat the algae and seaweed, which is their source of EFA’s, which they collect in their healthy flesh and oils.
The scientific news about our need for omega-3 fats in our diet is very new with new studies being published regularly. Since the badly-flawed FDA (low fat) Food Pyramid was published in 1992, omega-3 has been very controversial, with a lot of resistance to change by professional nutritionists who had been giving individuals, food vendors, and government agencies incorrect information throughout their entire career.
A Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for omega-3 of 1.1 grams/day for women and 1.6 for men was not established until September 2002. Prior to that time, it was incorrectly believed to be ZERO. Scientists are still learning how critical omega-3 EFA’s are to our overall wellbeing, body and mental health. Many leading-edge researchers now feel that the 2002 omega-3 DRI is much too low, especially in light of the extreme imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 in the American diet, and the great value of high-omega-3 in the successful Japanese diet. (with the longest life expectancy in the world).
In 2002, it was believed that the DRI of omega-6 should be 17 grams for men and 12 grams for women. Since that time, it has been found that societies with a ratio between 1-to-1 and 2-to-1 of omega-6 to omega-3 are much healthier. It is likely that the DRI for omega-3 will soon be increased and the DRI for omega-6 will be significantly lowered. Until that happens, a target of at least 4 or more grams per day of omega-3 is probably safe and desirable.
DHA as Brain Food: Essential structural fats make up sixty percent of the brain and the nerves that sense and control every system in the body. Therefore, it should be easy to understand why the better the fat in our diet, the better our brain will be. So, with all the fat eaten by the average American, why don't we have more geniuses in this country (instead of a nation of children with attention deficit disorder, etc.? The average American brain is getting enough fat, but for most Americans it is very much the wrong type of fat, which damages the brain, rather than nourishes it.
Think of your brain as a mystical spirit that sends chemical messages throughout your body, telling every organ what to do, how to grow, and how to work. An important group of these chemical messages are the “prostaglandins,” which activate the body's self-repair mechanisms. Our bodies MUST have balanced EFA’s to manufacture and send healthy prostaglandins (and other critical central nervous system messages).
A 1-to-1 balance between linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha linolenic (omega-3) in the diet is critical to a healthy, maximum-performance human brain. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are the primary structural components of brain cell membranes. They are also an important part of the enzymes within cell membranes that allow the membranes to selectively filter and transport other valuable nutrients in and out of all cells in every tissue and organ of the body.
When human cells - and especially brain cells - are deprived of the proper balance of essential fatty acids, the body builds unhealthy “replacement fatty acids” that are similar to healthy fats, but may actually be very harmful. Higher blood levels of replacement fatty acids are associated with diets that are high in (deadly) hydrogenated trans fats and diets that contain unhealthy excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (LA, ARA, GLA, DGLA - commonly used vegetable oils like olive oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cotton seed oil, borage oil, pumpkin seed oil and sesame oil). Although omega-6 oils are polyunsaturated essential fatty acids with no cholesterol, they are far too abundant in the American diet and should be reduced and replaced with more omega-3 fats, in a ratio that is closer to 1 to 1 omega-6 to omega-3.
Levels of unhealthy “replacement fatty acids” have been found to be elevated in persons suffering from depression and A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder). A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as the LNA from walnuts, canola oil, soy / tofu, flax oil or the EPA and DHA from seaweed, algae and certain fish oils) not only provides the body with healthy “smart” fats, but it also lowers the blood level of potentially harmful ones, such as the bad LDL cholesterol and can even reverse some of the effects of deadly trans fatty acids.
A “lock and key analogy” may help us understand how part of the brain’s intricate neural communication system works. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that carry information from one brain cell to another, conceptually like sparks flying across the (axon/dendrite synapse) gap between nerve cells. Each cell membrane contains a series of locks that only accept specialized keys. The various message carriers (prostaglandins and neurotransmitters) are like specialized keys to the locks. The keys and the locks must match. When the cell membrane is unhealthy because it is clogged with wrong kind of unhealthy replacement fatty acid keys, the proper keys cannot enter the correct locks, and brain function suffers measurably (e.g. attention deficit disorder, antisocial disorders, childhood conduct, oppositional disorder, adult antisocial personality disorder, and many other serious mental problems, mood instability, depression, etc.).
The eye is a perfect example of the importance of consuming the right (versus the wrong) kind of EFA “smart fats.” The retina of a healthy eye (with extremely-dense sensory neurons) should contain a high concentration of DHA, which the body forms from various omega-3 EFA’s in the diet. The better the quality of ingested fats, the fat, the better and longer the retina can function. Conversely, if the diet is deficient in omega-3s, unhealthy replacement fats will be used in the retina, which shortens its lifespan and contributes to a number of progress, cumulative short-and-long-term vision problems, eventually leading to total blindness (retinopathy, etc.).
Since most people are visual learners, better eyes produce better brains. EFA’s are essential to healthy vision from the youngest infants to the rate of aging in our advanced years.
EFA’s and structural fats throughout the central nervous system can be damaged by progressive by the many processes of oxidation. Therefore, antioxidants play a very important role in slowing the rate of aging and preserving our sensitive retina (and the rest of the cells in our body). Since World War II, fighter airplane pilots have understood that bilberry (English and other blueberries – a powerful antioxidant containing retinol purple) measurably enhances night vision, preserves and protects the retina. EFA’s and antioxidants are synergistic. Walnuts are rich in polyphenol antioxidants that help slow aging caused by free radical oxidative stress.
The unhealthy American diet contains far too much high-cholesterol saturated animals fat and omega-6 fat (olive oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, pumpkin seed oil, sesame oil, borage oil, cotton seed oil). Conversely, Americans consume far too little of the healthy omega-3's (walnuts, canola / rapeseed, soy, flaxseeds and toxin-free coldwater fish) and antioxidants that preserve and protect our structural fats and cell-forming enzymes.
Smart fats for growing brains: Fats directly influence brain development and performance, especially at either end of life: growing infants and elderly people (at elevated risk of debilitating dementia). There are two critical windows of time in which the brain is especially sensitive to nutrition: the first two years of life for a growing baby, and the last two decades of life for a senior citizen. Both growing and aging brains need nutritious essential fats, and omega-3 seems to be the most beneficial in many brain-and-body health issues.
The most rapid brain growth occurs during the first year of life, when the infant's brain triples in size by its first birthday. During this stage of rapid central nervous system growth, expansion and interconnection, the brain uses sixty percent of the total energy consumed by the infant. During this period, complex sensory and control skills are being learned, and neural “hardwiring” memories and “categorical perception” are being formed at a phenomenal rate.
Fats are a major component of the brain cell membrane and the myelin sheath around each nerve. So, it makes sense that getting enough of the right kinds of fat, can greatly affect brain development and lifetime cognitive performance. In fact, during the first year, around fifty percent of an infant's daily calories come from fat. Mother Nature knows how important fat is for babies; fifty percent of the calories in mother's breast milk is nutritious essential fat. What the mother eats influences the omega-3 content, etc. in her milk, and in turn influences her baby’s mental and physical development.
Healthy mother’s milk is always better than any baby formula ever developed. Since 1997, new knowledge about EFA’s has led to an increasing number of baby formula vendors adding DHA and ARA EFA’s to their products, to improve baby brain development. America was one of the last industrialized nations to add DHA to baby formula; others have been doing it for many years. It is very sad that for a century, women damaged their baby’s brains by feeding them baby formulas that had no DHA, rather than their own breast milk. I am so pleased to know that my loving mother breast-fed me for nearly a year. I believe that the way I was nurtured by both of my parents had far more influence on my cognitive development than my DNA alone.
Different species provide different types of fat in their milk, fine-tuned to the needs of that particular type of animal. For example, cows provide milk that is high in body-building saturated fats and low in brain-building fats, such as DHA. This helps calves grow rapidly, though it does not do much for their brains. In adult cows, the brain is small compared with the size of the adult body. Today’s domestic cattle don't have to do a lot of thinking to survive. In fact, humans who raise cows don’t want them to be intelligent, and they aren’t. Independent animals that resist domestication wind up on the dinner table at an early age. Humans have selectively bred the animals we eat to be stupid, but when we eat them, we do not get enough brain building nutrition like DHA omega-3 EFA’s.
In human infants, the brain grows faster than does the body. Highly developed brains are important to the complex culture of human beings, so human milk is low in body- building saturated fats, and rich in brain-building fats, including DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 essential fatty acid.
DHA is the primary structural component of brain tissue, so it stands to reason that a deficiency of DHA in the diet translates into a deficiency in brain function. In fact, research is increasingly recognizing the possibility that DHA has a crucial influence on neurotransmitters in the brain, helping brain cells better communicate with each other. Asian cultures have appreciated the brain-building effects of DHA much longer than the retarded U.S. FDA. In Japan, DHA is considered such an important "health food" that it is used as a nutritional supplement to enrich some foods. Japanese students frequently take DHA capsules when they study and before examinations. Most lower-IQ American’s don’t understand DHA, and coincidentally are not competitive intellectually with the average Japanese student (inaddition to living shorter, less healthy lives). Americans arrogantly ignore the nutritional success of other nations.
From a cynical viewpoint (to make an important point with a negative example), the world needs some stupid humans to perform unpleasant tasks. If you want your offspring to be as dumb as domestic cattle, deprive them of EFA’s, so their brain will not fully develop and they will be happy to eat hamburgers, french fries and pizza, and drink sugar water with a caffeine stimulant. They will watch hypnotic television, listen to hypnotic commercials, and respond with little sales resistance. They won’t have the capacity to react intelligently against government and corporate corruption. They won’t live very long, so you won’t have to care for them in their advanced unproductive years. (Sound familiar? Of course, this is written with tongue in cheek.)
Just how important is DHA for brain development? Consider these scientific research findings:
In the past, animals have been selectively bred to be easy to domesticate, and to get fat quickly. More intelligent and independent animals that resisted domestication were slaughtered before they could reproduce.
Wild animals that must be intelligent enough to survive in a competitive natural environment have higher levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids in their blood stream than domesticated animals. One clear example that we can easily verify scientifically today is that free-ranging cattle (which eat only natural grass) produce meat that has more omega-3 EFA’s and DHA than corn-fed (high-bad-fat) cattle that are raised in boring feed lot pens. For many years, cattle ranchers advertised corn-fed beef (with high saturated fat content), but nutritional scientists now know that grass-fed beef is healthier for us to eat than animals that eat “high glycemic index” grains.
Since we know that centuries of selective breeding and bad nutrition can make domestic food animals dumber by reducing their omega-3/DHA levels, then the reverse must also be possible. Rather than waiting 100 generations to selectively breed food animals with meat that is high in omega-3 and DHA, the modern technique is to use “recombinant DNA gene splicing” and “cloning” to immediately produce the desired result. This type of leading-edge genetic engineering has been going on for a number of years now. Early results produced animals with higher omega-3 content in the meat, but the taste was not god. In 2006, pigs have been produce (by splicing genes from tape worms) that taste good and have high omega-3 content. It is hoped that this technique will soon be adapted to beef and chickens. As with all of our brave new genetic engineering, we will not know the long-term impact on humans for several decades. Everyone who eats corn (I do not) is already consuming genetically engineered food, as do all corn-fed animals. The global winds have already carried the pollen from genetically engineered corn to every field around our tiny world.
What will these genetically engineered foods do to all future humans? It may be very good, or a man-made nutrition disaster (like an unprecedented plague that wipes out millions). We have no way of knowing for sure. We cannot stop what has already been done. Only time will tell. For now, many informed scientists feel that natural grass-fed free-ranging animals are healthier for us to consume than feed-lot animals injected with synthetic hormones and fed genetically-engineered grains. The issues are complex, and the general public is totally clueless, but we do know that there are many benefits linked to higher blood levels of omega-3 and DHA (from natural sources). Attempts to increase omega-3 content in commonly consumed meats will most likely benefit most clueless Americans with below-world-average health and cognitive abilities. Until that brave new world arrives in the future, there are many things that intelligent Americans can do to improve their nutrition today.
LNA versus DHA and EPA: The human body cannot use vegetable-source LNA directly, but healthy people have an enzyme that can quickly convert LNA (from walnuts, etc.) into highly-usable EPA and DHA omega-3 EFA’s. If we eat a handful of walnuts a day, we will produce sufficient DHA and EPA.
As in many cases, it is possible to get too much of most good things. Do not go overboard; it may be possible to consume too much LNA. One study statistically linked consuming a large amount of LNA to an elevated risk of prostrate cancer. 1 to 4 grams of LNA per day should be safe for almost everyone, but more studies are looking into these important issues. The concept of “too much of a good thing” has plagued Americans since the first 1950’s “Geritol” commercials. Subsequently, iron supplements were added to flour (and all products that contain flour like bread, etc.). Most young people and menstruating women need iron supplements, but older men and women can build up too much iron in their tissues, which can be deadly. We certainly hope that something like this does not happen with omega-3-caused cancer in 2050.
We officially need a minimum Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for omega-3 of at least 1.6 grams/day for men and 1.1 for women. More is recommended by some qualified nutrition scientists. 1.5 ounces of walnuts have about 4 grams of LNA. A healthy body can convert a portion of LNA into DHA.
To equal the amount of LNA in 1.5 ounces of walnuts, a person would have to eat 27 cups (1.7 gallons) of strawberries (way too much sugar), nearly 4 cups (a quart) of soybeans (a lot of carbs and calories), 28.5 cups of kale (almost impossible), 37.5 cups of leeks (oh my!), 20 flaxseed oil capsules, or 4 tablespoons of canola or soybean oil. We hope that this explains why walnuts are so highly recommended, in contrast to other sources of LNA.
Some 1,000mg salmon oil capsules contain 80mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA (total of 200mg of omega-3 per capsule). DHA supplements (made from seaweed, etc.) have 100mg of DHA. At least 100mg of DHA per day is recommended for healthy brain function (growth and maintenance) most adults. The requirement for children is less, dependant on weight.
Today, the average Americans daily intake of DHA is significantly lower then it was 50 years ago. Similarly, the level of DHA in the breast milk of lactating American women is significantly lower then 50 years ago. Scholastic records and INCREASING high school dropout rates are statistically linked to declining levels of DHA. People who have no other source of omega-3, pregnant and lactating women may take 200mg of DHA per day (or more ONLY under doctor’s supervision with regular blood monitoring).
The rare nature of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is why extremely few Americans consume sufficient omega-3/DHA, which in turn contributes to many of America’s worst health problems (from heart disease to devastating forms of dementia and cognitive impairment).
If you do not consume a lot of seaweed or open-ocean, deep/cold-water (not farmed) salmon or other healthy (non-toxic, unpolluted deep cold water) omega-3 fish, then A HANDFUL OF WALNUTS A DAY MAY BE VERY BENEFICIAL TO MOST PEOPLE (unless you are allergic to them).
If you harvest your own nuts, be aware that they can develop a toxic mold, especially if they become moist or they begin to rot before the shell is removed. Peanuts (which we do NOT recommended for human consumption) often grow a carcinogenic mold in the shell. It often causes cancer in families that raise peanuts. The mold that grows on poorly processed nuts can be killed with temperatures below the boiling point of water, but the dead mold and toxins that remain may not be particularly healthy to eat. Some people who think they are allergic to nuts are actually allergic to the mold that is the result of improper processing and storage. Peanuts are also high in undesirable omega-6, with almost no omega-3 EFA’s. Kids who eat fihs are on average more intelligent than kids who eat a lot of peanut butter. Walnuts are much healthier than peanuts.
In general, nuts should be carefully dried, processed (heated to a minimum mold-killing temperature), and stored safely in an airtight dry place or freezer. Like all fats, the healthy oils in nuts can turn rancid due to oxidation over time. Do not leave an open package of nuts in a moist area. Heating healthy nut oils to an excessive temperature (like frying or baking above 250 degrees) can convert healthy EFA’s into deadly trans fats.
In quick summary, omega-3 EFA’s have been clearly and consistently shown in clinical studies (Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, USC, Purdue, etc.) to improve the brain and cardiovascular circulatory system in children and adults. Omega-3 EFA’s help control a healthy balance of good-versus-bad cholesterol. EFA’s lower dangerous triglyceride levels, and promote healthy insulin levels.
Omega-3 EFA’s act like a vascular system lubricant. They make blood platelets less "sticky," which reduces the risk of devastating sudden circulatory blockage blood clots throughout the entire body. Poor circulation damages everything in the body, including the brain and the entire central nervous system.
In addition to reducing the risk of both slow-and-sudden brain damage, omega-3 EFA’s improve the critical structural fats in the brain. EFA’s protect memory and central nervous system function and reduce the rate of aging of sensory (retina, etc.) and motor control nerves, which are common problems in the elderly.
Omega-3 EFA’s have been shown to be more effective in reducing depression than some commonly-prescribed dangerous prescription antidepressants. During pregnancy and breast feeding, omega-3s improve mothers’ health and development of their children's brains, nerves and eyes.
The lubricating effect of healthy omega-3 EFA’s improves joint mobility and provides relief and protection from arthritis. Inflammation is both the symptom and the source of many types of age-accelerating disease. Omeg-3s can measurably reduce a variety of types of painful and organ-damaging inflammation.
Summary of diseases and disorders that may be avoided, delayed or reduced by improving the balance of dietary omega-3 EFA intake:
Cardiovascular: Heart Disease, High Cholesterol, Heart Attack, Stroke, Cardiac Arrhythmia, Atherosclerosis, Angina, High Blood Pressure (Hypertension), Preeclampsia, Raynaud’s Disease
Inflammatory and Musculoskeletal: Eczema, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis (High C-Reactive Protein Level – Elevated risk for heart disease, etc.)
Respiratory: Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Mental / Psychological: Attention Deficit Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Dementia, Schizophrenia, Migraine Headaches
Other: Diabetes, Crohn's Disease, Lupus, Dysmenorrhea (Painful Menstruation), Phenylketonuria, Photosensitivity
If you care for someone who is at risk for any of the above diseases, you should extensively research how nutrition may significantly improve their health. Do not believe what any single biased product marketing source says about these issues – validate your well-informed opinion with input from multiple sources. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid foods and food supplements may be very effective, but for each disease, other lifestyle issues of nutrition, exercise and toxin avoidance may also be very important. Everyone is an individual. No single solution works for all people all of the time. Invest the time to learn general good lifestyle choices, AND the metabolic characteristics that make you unique.
In July 2003, the slow-moving, conservative U.S. FDA finally endorsed the dramatic health claim that only 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Plant sources of omega-3s also have beneficial dietary fiber and other valuable nutrients. Walnuts are rich in polyphenol antioxidants that help slow aging caused by free radical oxidative stress.
Obviously, statements about the benefits of particular foods cannot apply equally to all people, since some individuals are allergic to certain types of food that may be beneficial for the majority, but detrimental to some. Some good natural food sources (like salmon) may be badly polluted with environmental toxins or by contamination caused by poor farming, processing, storage and marketing techniques (like preservatives and toxic color additives).
Farmed salmon has uch less beneficial omega-3 EFA’s than wild cold deep-water smaller salmon. A serving of most farm-raised salmon contains an unacceptable level of well-documented carcinogens, according to measurement standards established by the U.S. EPA.
Different plant-and-fish-based food supplements have widely varying amounts of omega-3s and undocumented levels of toxins. We should lobby government agencies to require standardized product monitoring so consumers can make better-informed decisions about natural food sources versus food supplements.
Heating healthy polyunsaturated EFA’s (as in frying or baking above 250 degrees) or hydrogenating vegetable oils (as in margarine, shortening, and the preserved older fats that are commonly found in commercially baked products like bread, cookies, cake, noodles, fried foods, etc.) converts them into EXTREMELY UNHEALTHY (even deadly) “TRANS FATS.” Pervasive trans fats are the number one cause of American heart disease, which is the number one killer of Americans. High temperature cooking can produce CARCINOGENIC ACRYLAMIDES. Heated fats and older rancid fats also contain age-accelerating oxidizers called “LIPID PEROXIDES.” Trans fats are taken up as “replacement fats” in brain cells and cells throughout the body, which block the benfits of healthy fats and lead to many different diseases. The important point here is that improper farming, food production, storage, cooking, processing, unnatural preservation (like hydrogenation, etc.) and consumption of alcohol can convert a food that is essential to good health into something that is a very unhealthy age accelerator.
Properly stored and prepared Omega-3 fatty acids offer significant protection against heart disease - by lowering the “bad” low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) and increasing the “good” high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Omega-3 EFA’s have been demonstrated to significantly reduce the risk of deadly coronary heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension - found in 1 out of four adults), stroke, arthritis, disease-causing inflammation, etc. Omega-3 EFA’s help reduce blood clotting and inflammation, both of which contribute to heart attacks and strokes. Studies suggest that omega-3 EFA’s can reduce the risk of multiple types of cancer.
Recent research suggests that omega-6 and 3 fats need to be BALANCED in the diet at a ratio between 1-to-1 and 2-to-1, which is in stark contrast to the 20-to-1 ratio (far too much omega-6 - corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cotton seed oil, borage oil, pumpkin seed oil, sesame oil and olive oil) found in the highly processed foods in most unhealthy American diets. We need to correct the omega-3 to omega-6 imbalance to protect our heart, brain, joints, pancreas, mood stability, skin, and the critical every cell membrane, tissue and organ in our body.
Although vegetable oils (olive oil, etc.) are often touted by medical professionals, nutritionists and government agencies as desirable polyunsaturated forms of healthy fat with no cholesterol, most Americans unknowingly eat way too much omega-6, without realizing the impact on their personal health, or the lives of those that they are preparing food for. Too much omega-6 can raise blood pressure, lead to blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke, and make your body retain too much water (which is a common complaint of women who eat salads with polyunsaturated salad dressings).
The latest research suggests that Americans need to significantly cut back on sources of omega-6 and increase intake of omega-3 EFA’s. (Put a few walnuts on your salad, instead of olive oil.) This is important new information that very few medical professionals or certified dietitians fully understand, or tell their patients. It is a great disservice for certified dietitians to recommend consumption of polyunsaturated omega-6 vegetable oils with a total daily intake greater than 2-to-1 of the amount of omerga-3 EFA’s.
There are MANY reasons why common foods like fried potatoes are bad for your health, even though they are now cooked in zero-cholesterol polyunsaturated vegetable oil (rather than beef lard, as McDonald’s ®, et.al. used to do not so long ago).
How can we improve our intake of omega-3 EFA’s? We can eat cold/deep-water fatty fish (like smaller salmon) every other day, or eat walnuts in limited amounts, or supplement our diet with high-omega-3 fish oils, DHA supplements, canola oil or flaxseed (with toxin levels much lower than most fish), or a combination of the above. For variety of multiple-source EFA’s, it is recommended that different omega-3 sources be used on different days.
It is important to properly store and prepare EFA’s. Fat-based food supplements have a limited shelf life. They should be stored in dark, airtight containers in a cool / dry place or refrigerator. Do not buy large containers unless you have a large family. Rancid fats, and those processed at high temperature, contain harmful trans fats and oxidizers called “lipid peroxides”.
High-quality flaxseed oil has a nutty flavor. Lipid peroxides are associated with a bitter taste and rancid smell. One way to measure the quality of EFA supplements is by taste. The degree of bitterness approximates the level of lipid peroxides, which should be avoided.
Oils in gel caps can go rancid without you realizing it. Occasionally, you should cut a gel cap open - If it tastes bitter or smells rancid, discard the entire container. Buy fresh products and store them properly. The combination of EFA’s plus an oil-soluble antioxidant (like natural, not synthetic, vitamin E) has been shown to be more effective than either one alone at reducing bad cholesterol, heart disease, etc.
It must be cautioned that too much fat-based food supplements can also be a problem. The body can purge an excess of water-based vitamins like B and C, but lipid-based, oil-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) can build up (in the liver and elsewhere) to the point that they can become toxic. Too much intake of lipid-based vitamins can (in extreme cases) be deadly. Concentrated food supplements (like beta carotene, iron, etc.) have been clearly shown to be harmful to significant numbers of people, whereas natural food source concentrations (like properly-prepared, smaller, cold/deep-water salmon) can be highly beneficial to the majority. Simplified summary: Indiscriminate excess of a good thing can become a bad thing and may even kill you. A good thing like unsaturated fats can be turned into a bad thing if improperly prepared, stored, exposed to alcohol, hydrogen, etc.
Mothers, must eat well and breastfeed your infant! Breastfeeding offers significant health benefits to both mother and infant. Breast milk contains beneficial compounds, including antibodies, hormones (made from fats) and omega-3 essential fatty acids, that are not found in most infant formulas. Healthy mother’s breast milk supports optimal infant development, particularly for body systems most affected by residual PCBs, lead, mercury, dioxins, and other highly toxic chemicals in our polluted industrialized environment.
Numerous studies have shown that a variety of environmental toxins and pervasive pollutants, when introduced during the early stages of life, can have devastating permanent subtle impacts on neurological development and learning ability, as well as more obvious structural deformities. Many lifelong mental diseases (ADD, etc.) can be trace directly to a mother’s poor nutrition decisions during gestation and early infancy. Our precious offspring need all of the natural protection they can get, especially at the beginning of life. When your child no longer needs to breast feed, continue your good nutrition habits for the rest of your own life, and to set a good example for your entire family.
Mercury and Other Harmful Toxins
One important seafood issue: Top-of-the-food-chain large predatory fish (like tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel and lake bass) and bottom-dwelling shellfish (in our increasingly polluted waters, lakes, rivers and oceans) concentrate carcinogenic toxins (such as residual PCBs, dioxins, furans, pesticides and heavy metals like mercury and lead). Cooking does NOT eliminate all of these toxins. Cooking can even concentrate some toxins, or worse yet, alter environmental toxins like mercury into simpler chemical forms that are more readily absorbed in our body.
The American Heart Associations has long recommended consumption of certain fish to reduce the risk of heart attack, but they also offer this cautionary information:
The benefits and risks of eating fish vary depending on a person’s stage of life.
· Children, pregnant and nursing women usually have low cardiovascular disease risk, but may be at higher risk of exposure to excessive mercury from fish. Avoiding potentially contaminated fish is a higher priority for these groups.
· For middle-aged and older men, and women after menopause, the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks within the established guidelines of the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency.
· Eating a variety of fish may reduce potentially adverse effects due to environmental pollutants.
The following results are based on a small number of samples. The actual amount available to you may vary significantly, depending on geographical source of the fish, water temperature, species, wild-versus-farmed, and the food source of the fish.
Top 10 fish and shellfish consumed in the United States
(Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for omega-3 is at least 1.6 grams/day for men and 1.1 for women)
Mercury level in
Omega-3 fatty acids (grams per 3-oz. serving)
Flounder or sole
Other common seafoods
Mercury level in
Omega-3 fatty acids (grams per 3-oz. serving)
Fish with the highest levels of mercury (about 1 ppm Hg)
Mercury level in
Omega-3 fatty acids
Tilefish (golden bass or golden snapper)
Advice from the FDA: Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or nursing - and young children - should not eat these fish. (The rest of us should probably avoid them too.)
Fish with about 0.5 ppm Hg
Mercury level in parts per million (ppm)
Omega-3 fatty acids (grams per 3-oz. serving)
Fresh or frozen tuna
Advice from the FDA: Minimizing exposure to methylmercury is particularly important for pregnant women, women who are planning to become pregnant, nursing women and young children.
In general, Joyful Aging recommends that large predatory fish, bottom dwellers and shellfish should be avoided (or consumed rarely in small amounts), since their toxicity is cumulative over time. (Expensive, tasty lobster and crab are actually large members of the same family of low-life scavenger bugs as the cockroach.)
This means that we need less-toxic vegetable sources of our DRI of omega-3, such as walnuts, canola, flaxseed, soy, etc. A handful of walnuts per day is highly recommended, instead of toxic polluted seafood sources. (Sad but true.)
Toxic pollutants and heavy metals (like mercury and lead) can be retained for long periods of time in body fats and tissues, thus doing ever-increasing levels of bodily damage over long periods of time. The process of excess weight loss can release toxins stored in body fat, usually causing headaches and in some cases even more damage to the central nervous system sensory and motor control mechanisms.
The point is to AVOID INTAKE OF TOXINS IN THE FIRST PLACE. THERE IS NO “SAFE” LEVEL OF KNOWN CANCER-CAUSING TOXIN CONSUMPTION.
TOXINS ALWAYS DO SOME DEGREE OF CELLULAR DAMAGE. The amount of a carcinogen that you can consume before you significantly increase the risk of cancer is controversial. But, how much cyanide, arsenic, mercury, PCB, dioxins, carcinogenic pesticides, etc. is “SAFE” for you to consume? ZERO!
Since 1991, the Institute of Medicine, a non-profit group affiliated with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has warned women even considering pregnancy to avoid swordfish because of high levels of mercury contamination. Nearly a decade later, this recommendation was underscored by the slow-to-respond U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which extended the mercury warning to other fish like shark, king mackerel, tilefish and swordfish.
We must lobby our ineffective government to force product providers or third party organizations to measure and publish the levels of toxins in the products that they sell the naive public. Vendors have been extremely reluctant to do so, and unlabelled toxins have already killed millions of people. All that we can do is to arm ourselves with the best knowledge available to us:
Mercury is a reactive metal that is a potent neurotoxin. It is especially harmful to developing fetuses and can cause permanent irreversible brain damage, learning disability, lower I.Q., dementia, sensory loss, tremors, loss of muscular coordination, speech, hearing, and visual problems, as well as increased risk of kidney failure and deadly heart attacks. As with other toxic metals, mercury can build up over time in bodily tissues and fat storage, with no way for the body to purge it from our tissues and organs.
Mercury amalgam was used in older grey metal fillings for teeth. There has been significant (highly-biased self-defensive) public argument about the toxic damage caused by mercury fillings, but many open-minded medical professionals now recommend that all mercury should be removed and replaced. However, the presence of mercury fillings is a much less significant risk of mercury poisoning than some of the polluted food that we now eat.
Remember, only two or three decades ago, our monitoring of industrial pollution release was so lax that there were numerous cases of rivers near large cities catching on fire! For decades, tons of mercurial compounds were used to control slimes on logs that were used in paper making processes. In the 1960s, large numbers of people downstream from paper mills were found to be suffering significantly elevated levels of irreversible permanent damage to muscles, nervous system sensory and control paths, brain damage and vision loss, which was directly linked to mercury poisoning. The unnecessary damage to developing babies was particularly pitiful.
Mercury emissions were eventually regulated in the 1960’s when the public finally learned the cause-and-effect. But in many cases around the world, the current inconsistent, insufficient regulation of carcinogens are poorly monitored and enforced. In some cases, mammoth-scale industrial polluters have been forced to reduce the parts per billion of known toxins in the water that they release. They are still allowed to release large quantities of carcinogens, but the danger is hidden, since they merely dilute their toxins with large quantities of water.
In two or three decades, the next generations will condemn us for how stupid and selfish we were when we carelessly left them a legacy of difficult-to-avoid cancer causing environmental toxins, just as we now do those in the 50’s and 60’s who left us with today’s massive amounts of environmental toxins.
The previously-released mega tons of deadly mercury compounds, plus PCBs, dioxins, and many other currently-banned toxins, are still polluting our environment and causing cancer, decades after being released. Mercury is now throughout the entire marine food chain, concentrated in larger fish. Mercury continues to be re-released when rivers are periodically dredged to remove industrial sediments, runoff, city wastes, etc.
Mercury also continues to get into our environment when improperly disposed toxic wastes (certain types of light bulbs, batteries, thermostats, etc.) are indiscriminately discarded and burned. The dispersed mercury molecules are widely distributed by winds and fall to the earth and our water supplies, where they build up in the bodies of animals that eat contaminated plants and drink, or live in, contaminated water.
Atmospheric mercury is also accumulated in snow packs in polar regions and at high altitudes. By studying ancient glaciers, scientists have one way to document the increase in modern mercury, dioxins and other air-borne toxins released into the environment.
When the relatively short snow melt season occurs, large quantities of bioavailable toxic forms of mercury and other carcinogens are released into the environment, impacting water supplies and the cold-water marine food chain.
Toxic mercury is often concentrated near industrial plants and urban garbage dumps, but the distribution mechanisms of burned toxic waste and waters of the world span the entire earth, including ALL oceans and fresh water supplies. In Biblical times, bottom-dwelling marine life was considered unclean. Now we have polluted our water sources to the point where bottom dwellers are often contaminated with cancer-causing toxins.
The negative impact of what has already been done (and continues to accumulate) cannot be reversed. Previous thoughtless generations in the mid 1900’s surrounded themselves with life-shortening toxins and left a legacy of increased cancer rates to their grandchildren. All that we can now do is to learn how to minimize exposure to that which is now pervasive, and love our offspring enough to stop increasing the rate of cancer in our future generations. If you fly over a city and notice the blue-white mercury-vapor streetlights (less frequent these days), you can see yet another thoughtless community spreading the elevated risk of cancer to their children.
There is no government requirement to test, monitor, report or label the quantity of deadly cumulative known toxins in most popular foods, food supplements, household cleaning products, pesticides, electronics, or even in overly-expensive bottled water.
Some food-and-water preparation methods may actually concentrate the amount of toxic metals per unit of measure, but most customers do not understand the reality of what they consume, or the long-term cause and effect of well-documented known sources of cancer.
The human body cannot easily purge fat-soluble toxins from our tissues. Weight loss can release neurotoxins that have been concentrated in body fats stored long ago, causing additional neurological damage, headaches similar to hangovers (permanent nerve damage), etc. Toxic metal damage can continue long after it is initially ingested.
Mercury In Women: Studies have shown that one in twelve American women of childbearing age now have potentially hazardous high levels of mercury in their blood as a result of consuming fish, according to (EPA and FDA) government scientists. (Journal of the American Medical Association April 2, 2003;289:1667-1674)
Pregnant and nursing women MUST be especially careful about consuming popular sources of toxic mercury (like tuna, etc.). Over time, and especially in an unborn fetus, toxins slowly build up their level of toxicity in nerves, body fats and internal organs, creating many (unexplained) devastating diseases and neurological disorders, whose root cause is extremely difficult to diagnose. When someone is impacted by long-term exposure to a pervasive toxin, the root cause of the disease is seldom accurately diagnosed. Since the cumulative effect takes place long after initial ingestion, very few people understand the cause and effect that produces many devastating diseases as they grow older.
Good news and bad news: Smaller salmon often have less mercury stored in their skin and flesh than the largest salmon. Farm raised salmon (which are fed ground fish meal mixed with grain) usually store lower beneficial omega-3 EFA’s than cold water, open ocean, fatty salmon. Wild salmon freely roam the ocean eating healthy krill, small shrimp, and zooplankton. Wild salmon develop stronger muscles than farm-raised salmon.
Carcinogens In Farm-Raised Salmon: A study published in the January 9, 2004 issue of Science magazine pointed out that farm-raised salmon sold in America (Mostly from Canada, Chile and Northern Europe) may have up to 11 times more cancer causing contaminants compared to more expensive wild salmon. The researchers found significantly higher concentrations of toxic contaminants in farmed salmon versus wild. In particular, substances that have been well studied for their ability to cause cancer (PCBs, dioxins, Dieldrin, and Toxaphene) were consistently and significantly more concentrated in 700 farmed salmon samples - produced in eight major salmon farming regions around the world, and purchased in 16 large cities in North America and Europe.
This statistically significant study supports the findings reported in 2003 by the Environmental Working Group, which documented elevated carcinogenic PCB levels in farmed salmon filets from ten different U.S. grocery stores. The level of some cancer-causing toxins can be reduced (but not eliminated) by removing the fish skin before cooking.
PCBs were used extensively in fire retardant industrial electrical insulators, hydraulic fluid and lubricants. Dioxins and furans come from metal smelting and the production of chemicals and many common plastics. They are produced today in large quantities and distributed around the world when garbage is burned. Dieldrin and Toxaphene were used extensively as pesticides and treated wood preservatives. PCBs, Dieldrin and Toxaphene are all banned in the U.S. but they will persist in the environment for many decades and be redistributed again and again by the flow of water, erosion, excavation, evaporation, fire, winds and the repetitive cycles of the food chain.
All of these pervasive toxins are directly linked to a variety of cancers throughout the body, and a long list of serious (avoidable) diseases including reproductive system sperm and eggs, neurological, immune system and developmental effects in children. They can disrupt thyroid and sex steroid endocrine systems, lower IQ, cause hyperactivity, shorten attention span, and delay acquisition of reading skills. These toxins have been shown to directly damage the lungs, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, nervous system, and can directly cause accelerated aging and death.
As new research is being published, serious health effects continue to be found at increasingly lower levels of exposure to these pervasive toxins. In the case of farm raised salmon, they are concentrated in elevated levels through the fish meal that is fed to fish that cannot freely roam the open oceans.
The American Heart Association has for many years recommended eating two or three servings of fish containing omega-3 fatty acids per week. However, in most cases, consumption of more than one serving of farmed salmon per month poses unacceptable cancer risks according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methods for calculating fish consumption advisories. Europeans recommend no more than one half of a serving of toxic farm-raised salmon per month.
Consumers could eat eight times more wild salmon per month and receive lower known carcinogen levels than only one serving of some of the samples of farm-raised salmon that was tested. The amount of farm raised salmon that one would have to eat to intake desirable levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids would greatly increase the risk of cancer, and therefore is NOT advisable, based on the latest 2004 scientific comprehensive studies.
The highly-biased, ineffective U.S. FDA disagrees with the U.S. EPA and European limits of banned cancer causing toxins. FDA allows 44 times carcinogens in our food than the EPA allows in environmental water sources. American politics seems to be more interested in saving rivers, trees and fish than in protecting humans from well-documented known sources of cancer, which is the second most deadly consistent killer of Americans. This irrefutable fact (of inept, inconsistent EPA/FDA government agencies) is absolutely outrageous! Those at the U.S. FDA that we pay to protect the health of our population simply are NOT doing their assigned job.
Many intelligent integrated medicine doctors who previously advised their patients and readers to eat salmon more than once a week are now wisely revising their advice. Health conscious consumers in a matter of weeks noticeably reduce their consumption of toxic farm raised salmon. These consumers seem to be far more intelligent and responsive that the ineffective, unprotective U.S. FDA.
Toxic Salmon Coloring: Wild ocean salmon eat creatures like shrimp and krill, which contain chemicals that make their flesh pink. Since farm-raised fish eat an unnatural diet, their flesh would be gray if not for artificial coloring additives. (Would you buy gray salmon in your supermarket?) Wild salmon often costs $15 per pound. The more-common farm-raised salmon cost about $5 per pound. If you are paying less than $15 per pound for a pink salmon, it probably contains artificial color.
Concerned consumer groups have filed suit against large grocery store chains in an attempt to force them to label the fish that are fed artificial coloring. The chemicals often used to make farm-raised fish pink are “canthaxanthin” and “astaxanthin.” Federal and state law requires that farm-raised salmon be labeled, however multiple grocery chains fail to list their chemical additives on the label. Biased vendors argue that canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are not harmful, but there is significant controversy over the effects of canthaxanthin, since studies have clearly linked it with retinal damage in the human eye.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease – the number one killer of Americans. Wild salmon are high in omega-3s. Farm raised salmon cost much less than wild salmon, but they have less omega-3 fatty acids, toxic coloring, and more than ten times the deadly carcinogens as wild salmon. Walnuts are a much less toxic source of high levels of omega-3 EFA’s than farm raised salmon. Walnuts cost much less than wild salmon. Draw your own conclusion.
Mercury Compounds: One important mercury toxicity factor is what compounds the highly-reactive mercury binds with. Environmental toxicology experiments show that environmental mercury is often “methylated” (bound with carbon and hydrogen atoms). Recent studies (“The Chemical Form of Mercury in Fish”, Science magazine August 29, 2003) suggest that the mercury in some fish is often attached to both a carbon atom and a sulfur atom. Since sulfur bonds more tightly to other elements than methyl groups do, it is possible (but not certain) that the sulfur atom makes the mercury less likely to be metabolized by humans.
According to researchers, smaller fish such as haddock, tilapia, salmon, cod, pollock and sole, as well as some shellfish tend to be relatively low in methyl mercury, and therefore they may be more desirable fish to eat than the largest predatory fish.
One fresh fish alternative: There are some methods of preparing Salmon Oil food supplements that are advertised to reduce mercury content, while remaining rich in omega-3 EFA’s. I helps to start with cold deep water wild fish, rather than making fish oil food supplements from warm shallow water farmed fish that are feed contaminated food pellets.
One problem with over-the-counter food supplements is that the industry advertising and labeling claims are not regulated, monitored or verified (like prescription drugs are supposed to be). Consider toxin-reduced Salmon Oil food supplements (along with other valuable sources of omega-3 EFA’s like walnuts and canola oil described above). Lobby your government representatives to require monitoring and force labeling of toxin levels in the foods we eat.
PEOPLE ON LOW-FAT DIETS (and others) SHOULD
SUPPLEMENT THEIR INTAKE
OF GOODFATS, AND ESPECIALLY OMEGA-3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS,
BEING CAREFUL TO BALANCE OMEGA 3-and-6 EFA’s, WHILE AVOIDING TOXINS.
High Glycemic Index Foods That Replace Dietary Fats Trigger Overeating
Have you ever wondered why you often feel hungry a few hours after eating a big meal? Chances are you ate low-fat carbohydrate-containing foods that caused a rapid spike in your blood sugar. Your body responds by releasing extra insulin into your blood stream. Excess blood sugar is converted into stored body fats. The high insulin makes blood sugar crash back down and it suppresses burning fats as well - You feel famished, which leads to overeating, shortly after eating a large meal.
This principle was clearly documented in a study of obese teenage boys by researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston and also at the USDA center in Boston. It was solid scientific evidence that carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (those that are rapidly digested and quickly release glucose into the blood stream) contribute measurably to obesity.
On separate days at least a week apart, researchers fed the boys breakfast and lunch having a high, medium or low glycemic index (GI). The boys ate almost twice as much after the high-GI meals compared to the low-GI fare. The high-GI meals induced a sequence of hormonal and metabolic changes that promoted overeating. http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/103/3/e26:
Results: Voluntary energy intake after the high-GI meal (5.8 megajoule [mJ]) was 53% greater than after the medium-GI meal (3.8 mJ), and 81% greater than after the low-GI meal (3.2 mJ). In addition, compared with the low-GI meal, the high-GI meal resulted in higher serum insulin levels, lower plasma glucagon levels, lower postabsorptive plasma glucose and serum fatty acids levels, and elevation in plasma epinephrine.
Conclusions. The rapid absorption of glucose after consumption of high-GI meals induces a sequence of hormonal and metabolic changes that promote excessive food intake in obese subjects. Additional studies are needed to examine the relationship between dietary GI and long-term body weight regulation.
Excessive fat consumption is widely believed to be a major dietary cause of obesity. For this reason, the US Department of Health and Human Services, American Heart Association, and American Diabetes Association currently advocate consumption of a low-fat diet in the prevention and treatment of obesity. Recently, however, the relationship between dietary fat and obesity has been questioned on several grounds including that both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses have failed to show a consistent association between dietary fat and body fat, and that weight loss on low-fat diets is usually modest and transient. In addition, and perhaps of particular significance, mean fat intake in the United States reportedly has decreased over the past 3 decades, from 42% to 34% of dietary energy, whereas the rate of obesity has continued to rise.
Another dietary factor that influences body weight is the glycemic index (GI). GI is a property of food that describes the rise of blood glucose occurring after a meal. Foods that are rapidly digested and absorbed or transformed metabolically into glucose have a high GI. The GI of a food or meal is determined primarily by the amount of carbohydrate consumed and by other dietary factors affecting food digestibility, gastrointestinal motility, or insulin secretion (including carbohydrate type, food structure, fiber, protein, and fat). Sugars and starchy foods commonly eaten in North America, chiefly refined grain products and potatoes, have a high GI, exceeding that of even table sugar by up to 50%. In contrast, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fruits generally have a lower GI.
A potential adverse consequence of the decrease observed in mean fat intake in recent years is a concomitant increase in dietary GI. A reduction of dietary fat tends to cause a compensatory increase in sugar and starch intake. Indeed, a rise in total carbohydrate consumption since the 1970s has been documented. Furthermore, because fat slows gastric emptying, carbohydrate absorption from low-fat meals may be accelerated. In view of these observations, it seems likely that the GI of the American diet has risen in recent years. Previously, an inverse relationship between GI and satiety has been shown in several single-meal studies. Although these reports suggest a potential influence of GI on short-term energy intake, the practical relevance of GI to energy regulation and obesity remains unclear.
The purpose of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that consumption of high-GI foods induces a sequence of hormonal changes that lead to decreased availability of metabolic fuels, excessive hunger, and overeating in obese subjects.
The researchers believe that their findings apply to the middle-aged and elderly as well. An alarming number of U.S. children and adults are now significantly overweight, following a reduction in fat intake since food labels were required to show fat content, and the 1992 USDA Food Pyramid low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet was recommended.
Humans are omnivores – our systems can adapt to eating meat or certain types of vegetables, in the correct natural forms and proportions. Clearly, the above study points out that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet can be very unhealthy for a significant portion of our population.
The location of our two eyes in the front of our head (necessary for stereoscopic vision necessary to kill fast-moving prey) makes it clear that early humans originally evolved as meat-eating carnivores. (Herbivores have eyes on the sides of their head, as a defense mechanism.)
Human DNA, biological metabolic enzymes, and cellular / tissue / organ systems evolved to effectively metabolize fresh meats, and natural vegetables found in our natural environment, including the normal levels of fats found therein. However, human internal systems can NOT deal well with modern highly processed, unnatural manufactured foods and food preparation methods, as the following discussion makes scientifically very clear.
The following information is a bit scientific, but it is very important to your health. It is arguably the single most important issue that needs to change in the American diet.
Partial hydrogenation is an industrial process that changes the molecular configuration and properties of oils used for baking and frying and other purposes. Partial hydrogenation creates deadly trans fatty acids (“trans fats”) in the oil. This is by far the most dangerous type of dietary fat. The world MUST eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from our food supply as soon as possible. In 2005, trans fats pervade many American food products.
Denmark has effectively banned partially hydrogenated products. Products are forbidden on the Danish market if they contain more than 2% trans fat. Australia has a similar trans fat ban.
In November 2004, the Canadian House of Commons, in a bipartisan vote, passed a motion calling on the Government of Canada “to enact regulation, or if necessary present legislation that effectively eliminates processed trans fats, by limiting the processed trans fat content of any food product sold in Canada to the lowest level possible." In response, the Government of Canada announced that it was establishing a task force to develop “recommendations for both an appropriate regulatory framework and for the introduction and widespread use of healthy alternatives to achieve the objective of limiting trans fat content in foods sold in Canada to the lowest levels possible.”
In January 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. The Dietary Guidelines include the following strong recommendation:
Consume 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible (i.e. zero).
The 2005 USDA and HHS Dietary Guidelines also contain the following important message to the food industry:
Because trans fatty acids produced in the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils account for more than 80 percent of total intake, the food industry has an important role in decreasing trans fatty acid content of the food supply.
Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of HHS, said at a news conference on the Dietary Guidelines that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may recommend that daily intake of trans fat be less than 2 grams, perhaps less than 1 gram. In effect, that would mean totally avoiding any food containing partially hydrogenated oils.
BanTransFats.com, Joyful Aging and many medical organizations and research scientists strongly support the U.S. government message about the danger of trans fat and the absolute need to totally remove partially hydrogenated oils from the food supply.
Sadly, even months after the 2005 Dietary Guidelines were published, inept, obsolete, biased organizations like the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and the National Association of Margarine Manufactures have yet to universally condemn trans fats, since for decades their incorrect recommendation of trans fat margarine (that they feed to patients in the hospital and to children in school) has directly caused the unnecessary early death of millions of Americans. They have ignored the best scientific evidence about deadly trans fats and actively resisted those who have been trying to ban them for many years. This unrepentant sin is continuing g to kill Americans every day it is not corrected.
The creators of profitable deadly foods and food additives fund the American Dietetic Association, American Diabetes Association, U.S. FDA product studies, and the Conference of the American College of Physicians. The New York Times ran a powerful article on how the corrupt American Dietetic Association receives significant funds from the worst food industry offenders to endorse their disease-and-death causing products.
The local dietitians who prepare high-trans-fat foods for your children in school and patients in hospitals are heavily influenced by ADA corruption. They are blind to the latest scientific studies of its high risk of causing heart disease. ADA inappropriate advice is also given to the FDA and other government health agencies. The original source was the creators and those who profit from selling unhealthy products. Government agencies receive the same paid-for message from multiple sources, and they begin to believe and act on the biased lies that intentionally ignore and cover up the many documented health risks.
From a scientific perspective, Fatty acids with double bonds come in two forms: “trans” and “cis.” These two terms refer to the direction of molecular structure folding that occurs at the carbon double bonds in unsaturated fatty acids. The natural shape of fatty acids is a “cis” form (curved/bent/folded shape). Usually the hydrogen atoms at a double bond are positioned on the same side of the longitudinal axis of the carbon chain. “Cis” is Latin for “on this side.” The asymmetry of cis fatty acids causes their distinctive curved shape.
Partial hydrogenation of vegetable oil cis fatty acids reconfigures the molecule. Their hydrogen atoms wind up on different sides of the chain. This configuration is called "trans fatty acids.” “Trans” is Latin for “across.”
Essential cis form fatty acids (see EFA discussion above) are incorporated into the membranes of all human cells and mitochondria (the internal cellular metabolic processes). When cis form unsaturated vegetable oils are subjected to hydrogenation (bubbling hydrogen in the oil) or when they are exposed to temperatures above 320 degrees Fahrenheit (during refining processes or high-temperature cooking/frying/baking), the natural cis form changes to the “trans” form (straight not curved) and becomes solid at room temperature.
Healthy cis fats are common in many vegetables. Trans fats occur relatively rarely in nature. The unnatural hydrogenation or high-temperature cooking processes produce “trans fats”, which do not spoil as rapidly as natural cis fats. Thus, hydrogenation is a type of preservative that allows old (otherwise rancid) fats to be sold in many common food products today. (See Bread)
Trans fatty acids are chemically identical to the cis form, but the resulting unnaturally preserved product does not react to normal human metabolic enzymes like the original natural vegetable oil cis fatty acid that it was made from.
The partial hydrogenation process not only preserves vegetable oil from normal decay, it also prevents trans fats from being properly metabolized for use in our bodies. This is a biochemical problem with many types of unnatural food preservation processes, for a variety of diverse specific reasons. Unnatural preservation often produces unhealthy foods with destructive properties that are unlike fresh, natural, properly prepared foods.
The distorted trans fat molecular structures alter and weaken numerous physiological functions of our cellular membranes and metabolic processes. The natural enzymes that deal with common cis form vegetable fats are unable to correctly digest and assimilate the unnaturally preserved trans fatty acids. Our enzymes become overloaded trying ineffectively to metabolize high levels of trans fats. This leads to a wide variety of significant medical problems when we try to assimilate modern unnatural commercially-processed foods, which are now sold in great volumes in our grocery stores, restaurants and fast food outlets.
The net effect: Trans fats increase bad cholesterol, bad apolipoprotein, triglycerides, and lower good (heart disease fighting) cholesterol and good apolipoprotein. Thus, trans fats clog arteries, increase visceral obesity and insulin resistance, interfere with proper lipid metabolism, and cause deadly heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), strokes, heart attacks and other debilitating diseases.
There are additional adverse effects of trans fats that may be due to the fact that they significantly raise triglycerides, compared to other types of fats. Unnatural trans fats have other uniquely-adverse metabolic impacts that are still being investigated, including a statistical link to breast cancer. Trans fats have also been linked to type II age-onset diabetes, harmful cell inflammation, accelerated aging and autoimmune system problems. Many of these diseases (like diabetes plus hypertension, etc.) combine to greatly increase the risk of pain, suffering and early death.
Some integrated lifestyle health and nutrition experts (like Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. - the highly successful Integrated Medicine Specialist, often seen on PBS, in print, etc.) feel that the total elimination of unnatural trans fat consumption should be THE MOST IMPORTANT single priority to improve American health.
There are high levels of trans fats in most fried foods, chips, margarines, shortenings, fast foods, convenience foods, many common packaged and frozen prepared foods, like bread, breaded foods, doughnuts, cookies, desert-and-meat pies, pizza, cakes, mixes, waffles, pancakes, noodles, soups.
Trans Fats versus Smoking – Smoking is the most significant cause of cancer (which is the number two killer of Americans. Stopping smoking is the best way to reduce the risk of cancer. Smoking is suicide on the installment plan. One cigarette does not kill you, but many cigarettes shorten your life expectancy. Smoking not only shortens you life, it also makes the life you live sickly, painful, and influences those around you. The economic impact on America is enormous, even though only 22% of American adults smoke. Statistically speaking, on average, smoking one cigarette will shorten you life about 11 minutes.
Eating one gram of trans fat is similar to smoking one cigarette. Each gram incrementally shortens your life and increases your risk of heart disease, which causes heart attacks, strokes and permanent irreversible brain damage.
The epidemic caused by man-made deadly trans fat in America is extremely significant, since the vast majority consume large quantities of trans fat in most margarines, french fries, bread, baked goods and snacks like chips and popcorn. Some microwave popcorn has as much as 24 grams of trans fat per bag – much worse than smoking an entire pack of deadly cigarettes in only a few minutes. There is no “safe” cigarette. There is no level of trans fat consumption that is “safe.”
Trans fats are about three times worse than saturated fats in relation to increasing the statistical risk of coronary heart disease. Eating a small amount of pure butter could be much better than eating all of the trans fats that are in popular fast food. Butter is a natural food that is acceptable in limited quantities, but unnatural trans fats (like margarine, shortening and those used in most fried and baked foods) should be avoided altogether.
Trans fats are DUMB FATS. Just as omega-3 improves brain functions, trans fats hinder brain functions. The American hamburger and french fry diet is loaded with bad fats that not only deprive the eater of smart fats, but they interfere with the action of smart fats on brain function.
A 1996 study of 96 boys found that those with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were significantly more likely to have learning and behavior problems than those whose levels were normal.
The behavior and learning of children who are labeled A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) tend to be influenced more by poor nutrition than by other children. Clues that a dietary deficiency is contributing to your child's behavior or learning problems are: excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry hair and skin, eczema, and allergies. You can keep a detailed food / mood connection diary that can help you better understand cause and effect. The acronym ADHD (Add to your Daily Healthy Diet) can help you remember to include foods that improve behavior and learning, such as walnuts, fish, flax (seeds or oil), and omega-3 vegetables.
DHA and A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder): Another study showed that children with ADHD tend to have low blood levels of DHA and ARA, which are two essential brain fats. Perhaps this is why studies have also shown that children who have been breastfed are less likely to have ADHD, and the longer the period of breast feeding, the less the likelihood of having ADHD. The reason appears to be that breast milk is high in important fatty acids, such as GLA, ALA, DHA, ARA, and others, but prior to 1997, most traditional baby formulas did not contain these essential fatty acids (EFA’s), and their lifelong brain function was diminished because of it.
Today, many modern baby formula’s contain the essential brain fats DHA and ARA. ARA is important for infant nutrition, but a healthy baby can convert the regular dietary fat into ARA, BUT babies cannot do this with DHA. That is why if a baby does not nurse on breast milk for TWO FULL YEARS, then DHA food supplements are “essential” (to be added to formula or solid foods). You can purchase formula with DHA, or buy 100mg DHA capsules, cut a hole in the end with a small, sharp, clean knife and squirt the oil into your baby’s formula or food.
Studies at Purdue University in Indiana suggest that many boys with ADHD have low levels of the omega-fatty acids DHA, GLA, and ARA in their blood, and tended to have higher levels of AHA and LA precursors in their blood than boys without ADHD, suggesting that these children were unable to make the fatty acids their brain needs from the fats in their diet. The boys with ADHD who had the lowest levels of DHA, GLA, and ARA, exhibited the most anxiety, impulsivity, hyperactivity and conduct disorders. The researchers suggested three possible explanations for their findings: the children's diets were deficient in essential fatty acids, the children had a metabolic problem that prevented the body from converting dietary nutrients to essential fatty acids for the brain, or various lifestyle and dietary factors reduced the level of essential fatty acids available to the brain.
While a deficiency of omega-3 fats contributes to poor behavior and learning, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is also important. A study of fifteen children with motor coordination problems showed that motor skills improved after the children were given a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Brain researchers believe that the ideal ratio in the diet is 1:1, but a study found that children with ADHD had a higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in their diet. When the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio gets too high, the important omega-3 fats may be less available to the brain.
Some children with ADHD have outward symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency, such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry hair, and dry skin. These symptoms appear because the vital organs, such as the brain, seem to have claim on the essential fatty acids in the diet and rob these vital nutrients from less important organs, such as the skin.
The Hyperactive Children's Support Group in England, after researching the connection between ADD and essential fatty acid deficiency, concluded that since some children may have a problem with the normal metabolism of essential fatty acids, they should supplement their diets with essential fatty acids. The group even suggested that perhaps males require two to three times more essential fatty acids than females, since hyperactive male children seem to outnumber females by three to one.
In a study of DHA and behavior, a group of college students were given a daily supplement of DHA beginning in August and continuing until final exams. Students who took DHA supplements displayed far less external aggression than those not taking supplements.
Sugars can also affect the learning and behavior of children. Glucose tolerance tests on 261 hyperactive children showed that 74 percent had abnormal glucose tolerance tests, indicating that some children with ADHD are more prone to blood sugar swings and the poor behavior and school performance that may accompany them. In one study, seventeen children with ADD were shown to have a lower rise in plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine in response to glucose infusion, another indication that these children may have more difficulty with blood-sugar changes.
Some research suggests that vitamin and mineral supplements may help children with A.D.H.D. Studies have shown that A.D.H.D., along with their lower serum levels of free fatty acids, may contribute to their A.D.H.D. Studies have shown that schoolchildren receiving a daily multivitamin containing the recommended dietary allowance of essential vitamins and minerals showed better school performance. However, studies using megavitamin therapy (doses of vitamins well above the RDA) on children with A.D.D. showed no effects; researchers concluded that this type of treatment should be discouraged because of potential toxic effects from excess amounts of some vitamins.
Other studies show that children placed on vitamin and mineral supplements tend to exhibit less violent, antisocial behavior, and show higher gains in academic performance than children on placebos. One study found that children who took 100 percent of the RDAs did better on I.Q. tests than those receiving 200 percent or 50 percent of the RDA. The conclusion was that taking more or less than the RDA may not be helpful.
Finally, nutritionists who reviewed studies linking diet, behavior, and school performance, concluded that students who generally ate a nutritious diet showed improved conduct and academic performance. All the whys and wherefores may not have been discovered yet, but common sense prevails.
Dr. Kent Erickson is the chairman of the Department of Cellular Biology and Human Anatomy at The University of California at Davis. He has been studying the benefits of consuming certain types of fat for many years. Erickson has found that how good or bad a fat is depends on whether it is polyunsaturated, monounsaturated or saturated AND on its chemical makeup and how human cells metabolize the fat.
Each type of fat has slightly different characteristics and functions in various ways in the human body. All ingested fats play some role in human metabolism. Some fats are good and essential to life. Some are very bad for us. “The real question is as Americans do we consume too much or do we consume the right kind of fats in our diet?”
“Conjugated linoleic acid” (CLA) is a polyunsaturated, unsaturated fatty acid. Studies by highly qualified research scientists like Erickson and others have shown that CLAs have valuable health benefits. Ironically, conjugated linoleic acid is found in significant quantities in many foods that misinformed medical doctors, certified dietitians and the U.S. FDA have told the general public to avoid or minimize, such as red meat, cheese and butter (which have significant levels of CLAs).
With funding from the California Breast Cancer Research Program, Dr. Erickson and his research team examined conjugated linoleic acid’s relationship to cancer. Animals fed sources of CLA were better equipped to fight breast cancer. "Dietary conjugated linoleic acid drastically reduces the rate at which that tumor grows … conjugated linoleic acid also reduces the spread or the ‘metastasis’ of the breast tumor." Stopping the spread of cancer is a vital step in dealing with the disease.
Conjugated linoleic acid’s cancer fighting power is found in how it blocks the growth of tissues that support cancer. CLAs reduce the production of bioactive “prostaglandin,” which causes inflammation and accelerates the growth of cancer cells. The increased production of cancer cells overwhelms our body’s natural cancer-killing immune system.
Obsolete, indiscriminate advice from doctors, dietitians and the FDA warned us that too much fat in the diet promotes cancer. This is partially true in some cases, but it is highly misleading information. Modern research documents the fact that not all fats are equally bad, or good. Overly simplistic federal nutrition guidelines continue to promote a variety of unnecessary, avoidable diseases, long after more accurate research has been widely published.
This Joyful Aging website does not recommend the consumption of large quantities of meat, cheese and butter, BUT, properly prepared natural animal food sources are not nearly as bad for your heart as pervasive unnatural grocery store and restaurant trans fats are known to be. A vegetarian who consumes a lot of trans fat is at high risk for heart disease.
Many of our ancient ancestors were meat eaters. Carnivorous animals have stereoscopic vision: two eyes that face forward so they can capture their prey. Herbivores have two eyes on the side of their head so they can watch for carnivorous.
Humans are omnivores: we can survive on meat or vegetables, but it is more difficult for us to obtain good nutrition only one alone. Healthy human metabolism developed over time to accommodate natural levels of various beneficial, high-energy, “cis” fatty acids (described above). Modern America’s sedentary television, computer-desk and video-game society, combined with deadly trans fats, consumption of high-glycemic-index carbohydrates, improper food preparation and alcohol are accelerating the aging process, unnecessarily causing extreme suffering (by patients and loved ones), placing a heavy economic burden on medical facilities, and slowly killing millions of naive Americans who ignore scientific evidence and listen to inaccurate government and dietitian recommendations.
One extremely sad thing is that the medical industry profits greatly by all of this unnecessary suffering. If the general public learned to stop consuming trans fats, the medical industry would make less money. This simple economic fact cannot be denied. Draw your own conclusions.
Common American products that contain large amounts of deadly trans fats are a major portion of the recommended foundation of the obsolete, misleading, disease promoting, FDA Food Pyramid. Eating reasonable amounts of properly prepared meat, cheese and butter, along with certain antioxidant fruits and beneficial (non-starchy) vegetables, would probably be MUCH healthier for most Americans than eating the modern unhealthy trans-fat-laden bread, etc. that the FDA and most doctors and dietitians have been wrongfully promoting for many years.
The older an individual is, the more important the trans fat nutrition issue becomes. However, even young children should be taught to avoid trans fatty acid food sources, since the vascular system damage is now know to be cumulative over a long period of time.
There has been a lot of press recently about the problems associated with “trans fatty acids”, but most people who use the term don’t have a clue what they are talking about! If someone offers you advice about the consumption of dietary fats, ask them what cis fats are (cis is pronounced 'sis, as in sister). If they don’t have a clue what cis fats are, then you may know more about the critical trans fat subject than they do, after merely reading the above material.
I remember an extremely important lesson that my father (a successful research scientist) taught me: “Son, when you grow older, don’t pay any attention to the baldheaded barber who tries to sell you a product to keep you from losing your hair.” It is amazing how many mediocre people lack such basic wisdom today.
Since trans fats are the number one lifestyle risk factor for the number one killer in America (coronary heart disease), why don’t more people know what “cis” fats are? Could it be because your uninformed M.D. is playing golf with the pharmaceutical salesman, instead of reading medical research journals? Why do hospital healthcare professionals still serve trans fatty white bread and margarine to recent heart attack victims? Answer: BECAUSE MOST HOSPITAL DIETITIANS ARE WITHOUT A CLUE ABOUT HOW TO DO THEIR JOB! They are non-learning entities who cling to obsolete business as usual and ignore modern research.
The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers (NAMM) would like you and professional dietitians to believe that there is nothing wrong with the products they produce. In fact, they even promote the health benefits of their products, in much the same way that old tobacco advertisements once promoted the beneficial calming effect of smoking. Years ago, tobacco associations funded multiple “scientific research studies” that they used in widespread commercials, which stated that tobacco was neither harmful nor addictive (for obvious profit motivated reasons). They have since been convicted in court as bald-faced self-serving liars.
Today, with a similar profit-motivated bias, the NAMM intentionally misleads the public with partially true statements that health professionals and leading health organizations recommend margarine. I think it is ironic that their (baldheaded barber) NAMM Home Page shows trans fatty toaster waffles covered with syrup and a large heart shaped pat of trans fatty margarine.
NAMM points out how very effective their advertising has been over the years: Americans now eat twice as much unhealthy unnatural trans fatty margarine as they do natural bread spreads. One of the references given on the NAMM http://www.margarine.org/ website is to the American Dietetic Association recommendations about the use of margarine. These are the certified professionals who continue to recommend serving margarine which contains deadly trans fats to hospitalized recent heart attach victims - GAK!
Outrageously, the obsolete thinking of the American Dietetic Association is still recommending margarine over butter, because of the fact that margarine has no cholesterol and less saturated fat than butter. Certified dietitians serve trans fatty bread and margarine to women hospitalized with breast cancer, when the CLAs in butter have proven to slow the progress of their disease. We previously explained multiple reasons why not all saturated fat is bad – Scientific research clearly shows that some saturated fats (soy lecithin, etc.) are actually very GOOD for you.
The Journal of The American Dietetic Association falsely published that Americans consume about 5 grams of trans fatty acids per day. Other more accurate studies suggest that the amount of trans fat consumption by many Americans now exceeds 100 grams per day. A small order of french fries can have about 15 grams (super sized fries are several times more). Noodles and soup cups have very high levels. Bread, cake, cookies, doughnuts, waffles, pancakes, cereal, margarine, shortening and many deserts all add up more deadly trans fats, bite by bite. It is easy to see how the ADA “5 gram per day” trans fat number is obviously false for the vast majority of Americans. Why do they lie in the face of clear scientific evidence?
Professional, certified, American dietitians continue to incorrectly influence our government agencies (like the FDA) and the unhealthy food that is now served in hospitals, schools, restaurants, and dominating our grocery store shelves. The following bad information was still on the American Dietetic Association misinformation website in 2003:
“Should you be concerned about trans fatty acids? At this point, it's not clear (to the non-learning entities at the American Dietetic Association). Compared with other fats, their contribution to your overall diet is probably small. And even if they do influence cholesterol, their effect is much less than saturated fats.”
THE ADA WEBSITE IS LOADED WITH MULTIPLE VERY FALSE STATEMENTS
Why does the American Dietetic Association continue to publish this incorrect information? Could it be that for decades they told us that eating margarine was a good thing, and they are incapable of admitting how very wrong they always were? Perhaps they are (accurately) afraid that no one will listen to them in the future, after the general public learns the truth about many of the ADA’s bad previous recommendations (that led to the disease causing FDA Food Pyramid, etc.).
For years now, scientific research has clearly shown that trans fatty acids (in MANY of our most common foods) are three times worse than saturated fats in causing coronary heart disease and premature death by heart attack and stroke. In stark contrast to the obsolete trans fat position of the American Dietetic Association, carefully consider the following scientific material (condensed from The Lancet, Volume 357:746-51, March 10, 2001).
Research data continues to accumulate about the association between trans fatty acids and the risk for coronary heart disease. Trans fats clearly raise “bad cholesterol” (LDL – low density lipoproteins) and lower the “good cholesterol” (HDL – high density lipoproteins). Because of this double detrimental affect, you only need to eat 4 to 5 grams per day to have a major increase in risk of heart disease.
One important study on trans fats involved 667 elderly men. Researchers did careful diet analysis on individuals and then followed them for 10 years to evaluate health outcomes. They divided the group, based on their intake of trans fatty acids, into three equal size groups. The first group had the lowest intake of trans fats. The last group had the highest intake, and the middle group included those in between. Setting the first group’s risk to a reference level of 1.0, the middle group had a 34% increased risk of heart disease. The group with the highest intake of trans fats had a 100% increased risk (twice the risk).
A small 2% increase in trans fat intake resulted in a 28% increase in heart disease and a 34% increase in mortality from heart disease. This increased risk remains even after adjusting for other possible confounding variables: age, body mass index, smoking, use of vitamins, alcohol, specific types of fat in the diet, dietary cholesterol, and dietary fiber. Previous studies found similar results:
Health Professional Follow-up Study
3% increased risk
Alpha-Tocopherol Cancer Prevention Study
15% increased risk
Nurse’s Health Study
62% increased risk
When the data was pooled for the statistically significant 146,436 persons in all four of these large studies, a 2% increase in calories from trans fatty acids resulted in a 25% increase in risk of heart disease.
It is remarkable to realize that such a small diet change could potentially cut our nation’s leading cause of death by 25%!
To reduce your intake of trans fatty acids, avoid typical snack foods, fast foods, fried foods (fries, chips, doughnuts, etc.), convenience foods with added fat, margarine and shortening, and most baked goods (including commercial breads, cookies, cake, and pie crust).
To inform consumers about the level of dangerous trans fatty acids in food products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently required the amount of trans fat to be specified on future food labels. Some manufactures (like Fritos and Doritos) have modified their ingredients to reduce less than 0.5 gram per serving (which allows them to label their product as 0 trans fat – although their products still contain dangerous MSG). Other foods that have significant trans fats will probably delay labeling them for as long as possible. Until these new trans fat labels appear in your grocery store, you can check the ingredient lists on food labels for terms such as "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated." If present, the food contains dangerous trans fatty acids. The higher on the list that "partially hydrogenated" appears, or the more times it appears in the ingredients list, the more trans fats a product contains. It is better to eat less trans fat than to eat more, but there is NO level of trans fat intake that is safe. All trans fats should be avoided.
Understand also that if you cook with healthy vegetable oils, you can inadvertently produce trans fatty acids (and harmful lipid peroxides), if you cook otherwise healthy fats and oils at high temperature. This means that even products that do not use hydrogenated oils may contain trans fatty acids. It also means that if the new FDA food label says that there are no trans fats in a product, you can unknowingly introduce harmful trans fats into your food by the way you cook.
Microwaving for a short period of time, or boiling is much safer than cooking significantly above the boiling point of water. Baking and frying are bad for several reasons. The higher the temperature and the longer you cook fats, oils, meat and starches, the more harmful trans fats (and starch-based acrylamides) you will produce. (Also see High Temperature Cooking Can Cause Cancer)
After decades of ignoring scientific research, and huge resistance to the truth by inept, corrupt government agencies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2005 Dietary Guidelines contradict the extremely flawed FDA Food Pyramid and among other things clearly state that trans fat should be limited as low as possible.
If you reduce your intake of trans fats by only 2% of calories per day, you may reduce your risk of heart disease by 25% or more. Since women tend to eat a higher percentage of vegetable fats than men, the Nurse’s Health Study showed a much higher heart disease risk reduction of 61% for women who reduced their intake of trans fats (plus the benefit of reduced risk of breast cancer, etc.). Omega-3 essential fatty acids are far superior to trans fatty acids.
Bottom Line Summary: If you want to live a long, happy, healthy life,
REJECT the misleading trans fat position of NAMM and the American Dietetic Association, and
AVOID ALL SOURCES OF TRANS FATS
Make sure that your diet contains sufficient Omega-3 EFA’s