Fats, cholesterol, and your health Part I

True or False?

  1. Eating too much fat will make you fat.

  2. Eating too much saturated fat causes heart disease.

  3. Polyunsaturated fats like soy oil, corn oil, and safflower oil that you buy from the grocery store are good for your health.

  4. If you’re trying to eat a healthier diet, you should choose margarine over butter.

  5. Lard is a saturated fat.

  6. Hydrogenated vegetable oils that are found in tens of thousands of processed food products, are good for our bodies.

  7. Fats should be limited to as little as possible for health reasons.

  8. Cholesterol and saturated fat cause cardiovascular disease.

All are false

Is it a fat or oil?

To put it simply, they’re all fat whether in liquid form or solid. We tend to refer to them as oils if they’re liquid at room temperature like olive oil. And we refer to them as fat if they are solid at room temperature like beef tallow or butter.

Technically called lipids, fats and oils are made up of many different types of fatty acids. Fatty acids are the same whether they come from plants or animals. Oleic acid that is found in olive oil is exactly the same as the oleic acid found in lard (pig fat). It’s the proportions of fatty acids that will vary from plant to plant, from animal to animal, and from plant to animal.

Types of fats

A fatty acid is a molecule that is made up of a chain of carbon atoms. These chains can vary in length from 1 – 24 carbons. Fatty acids are given their names based of how long the chain is and at what position the “unsaturation” occurs. If the fatty acid is saturated, the carbon chain length determines the name.

What is a saturated fat? Each carbon atom in the fatty acid chain has room for two hydrogen molecules, except at the end, where it has room for three. A fatty acid possessing two hydrogen atoms for every carbon atom in the chain is said to be saturated. A fatty acid missing two or more hydrogen atoms along the chain, which causes double bonds between carbon atoms, is said to be unsaturated. If there is one double bond, the fatty acid is referred to as monounsaturated. If there are two or more double bonds found along the chain, the fatty acid is referred to as polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats

Sources: Chicken fat, duck fat, goose fat, turkey fat, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, hazel nuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, avocados.

Although olive oil is the best vegetable (it’s actually a fruit grown on trees) monosaturated fat to use in cooking because of its high oxidation threshold, it is not recommended for repeated use or deep frying. Purchasing extra virgin olive oil ensures that it has not been extracted with heat or detergents. Olive oil that is not labeled “Extra Virgin” comes to stores already denatured and containing high amounts of free radicals from the extraction process.

Polyunsaturated fats

Sources: Corn oil, soy oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cotton seed oil, walnuts, flax oil, hemp oil, herring, salmon, sardines, mackerel.

Safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils all contain over 50% of the highly unstable fatty acid Omega-6 and should never be used in cooking, frying or baking. Heating these oils causes oxidation and produces large amounts of free radicals.

We have been lied to concerning the virtues of polyunsaturated fats. We’ve been told relentlessly that polyunsaturated fats are good for our health and to increase our consumption. Unfortunately, polyunsaturated fats cause many health problems. One of the biggest reasons polyunsaturated fats are so unhealthy is because they are very susceptible to becoming oxidized or rancid when exposed to heat and light. The polyunsaturated oils you buy in grocery stores are already rancid.

The extraction process is the problem:

  1. Throughout the entire process, these oils are exposed to oxygen.

  2. The oil is extracted with mechanical pressing and heated to 230 degrees.

  3. Then a chemical solvent is used to get what oil is left.

  4. The solvent is then boiled off. Again exposing the oils to heat.

  5. Because these oils become rancid, they are treated with deodorizers to get rid of the horrible smell.

  6. Finally, most oils are then bleached to give them eye appeal. Americans love the light golden color.

Now, you go to the store to purchase soy oil, which has been touted as super healthy, not knowing that you’re actually purchasing a free radical cocktail that over time causes serious health problems. Free radicals, or “chemical marauders” as some scientists refer to them, wreak havoc on our bodies.

Some of the problems they cause for us include:

  • Attack cell membranes

  • Cause damage to DNA/RNA strands, triggering mutations in tissues throughout the body

  • Causes wrinkles and premature aging

  • Damage to tissues and organs sets the stage for tumors

  • Damage to blood vessels initiates plaque buildup

  • Linked to autoimmune diseases like arthritis

  • Linked to Alzheimer’s

  • Linked to cataracts

Saturated fats

Sources: Beef tallow (fat), dairy, palm oil, coconut oil.

Saturated fats’ roles in the body include: [1]

  • They constitute at least 50% of our cell membranes and give our cells integrity.

  • They play a vital role in the health of our bones.

  • They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that is said to indicate proneness to heart disease.

  • They protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins like Tylenol (Acetaminophen).

  • They enhance the immune system.

  • They are needed for proper utilization of essential fatty acids.

  • Stearic acid and palmitic acid, both saturated fats, are the preferred energy source of the heart. This is why the fat around the heart muscle is mainly saturated. The best sources for palmitic acid are beef, butter and palm oil.

  • Short and medium chain saturated fatty acids have strong antimicrobial properties. They help protect us from harmful microorganisms. The best sources are tropical oils such as coconut oil and palm oil.

Because the carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms, saturated fats are very stable and generally do not go rancid. These fats are the best sources for cooking because of their stability and the positive functions they play in our bodies.

Trans Fats

Sources: Any foods containing “shortening,” “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil” in the ingredients list.

Decades of research show the consumption of trans fats to be detrimental to health.

Trans fats roles in the body include:

  • Lowers high density lipoproteins (HDL), otherwise known as the “good Cholesterol.” [2]

  • Raises low density lipoproteins (LDL), otherwise known as the “bad cholesterol.” [2]

  • Raises C-reactive protein, a substance in the blood that indicates arterial inflammation and is said to indicate proneness to heart disease. [3]

  • Raises Lipoprotein (a) (Lp(a)), a substance in the blood that indicates arterial inflammation and is said to indicate proneness to heart disease. [4]

  • Raises C-reactive protein, a substance in the blood that indicates arterial inflammation and is said to indicate proneness to heart disease. [5]

  • Promotes improper management of blood sugar, thus having detrimental effects in diabetics. [6]

  • Interferes with the function of the immune system. [7]

  • Decreases the body’s ability to utilize and decreases the amount of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids in our tissues. [7]

What are trans fats? They are poison in our food supply. “The latest government study confirms that trans fat is directly related with heart disease and increases LDL cholesterol. Because of that, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, declared there is no safe amount of trans fat in the diet.” [8] “There should be a warning on food made with this stuff like there is on nicotine products. It’s that bad for you, says Dr. Jeffery Aron, a University of California at San Francisco professor of medicine and one of the nation’s leading experts on fatty acids and their effect on the body. [9]

Poison is the most appropriate description of trans fat I can think of. These man-made fats are literally toxins in our bodies. Trans fat is produced through the process of hydrogenation. This process turns polyunsaturated oils into fats that are solid at room temperature, which are used to make products like margarine and shortening. To produce them, manufacturers begin with the cheapest oils, including soy, corn, cottonseed and canola, which are already rancid from the extraction process discussed earlier.

The oil is mixed with metal particles, usually nickel oxide, and is then subjected to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature container. Next, emulsifiers and starch are added to the oil/metal mixture to give it a better consistency.

At this time you have the base for margarine, only it smells like shit because it’s rancid and it’s gray from the metallic additive. Who would buy a spread like this? Nobody, that’s why it is then steam cleaned to get rid of the smell, and colors and flavors are added to make it resemble butter. This junk has actually been pushed onto us by industry, the American Heart Association and many physicians. Thanks a lot AHA, health food my ass.

Hydrogenation serves two main purposes. First, the process causes the hydrogen atoms to rearrange and makes a normally curved molecule straighter. The straighter the fat molecules are, the easier they pack. The unnaturally straighter molecules allow a fat that is normally liquid at room temperature, like soy oil, to be solid. Second, hydrogenation makes the naturally unstable polyunsaturated molecules more stable by destroying most of the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both essential for good health. Being unnaturally more stable, these fats extend the shelf life of processed foods.

At one time, tropical oils with anti-microbial properties like coconut and palm oils were the fats used in thousands of products we bought in grocery stores. These unusually healthy oils have been replaced by cheap, toxic, man-made hydrogenated oils. Oils like coconut oil and palm kernel oil are the best sources of lauric acid. Lauric acid has anti-microbial properties that inactivate viruses like HIV, measles, herpes simplex-1, vesicular stomatitis, visna and cytomeglovirus. [10]

Trans fat is toxic to our bodies, and as early as the 1940's, researchers found a strong correlation between cancer, heart disease and the consumption of hydrogenated fats, although the results were presented as though the culprit was saturated fats. [11] In fact, until recently, saturated fats were usually lumped together with trans fat in the various U.S. data bases that researchers use to correlate dietary trends with disease conditions. Because the FDA has turned a blind eye to the unreported levels of trans fat in foods, we have been misled about the fat composition of the foods we eat.

Amazingly, hydrogenated fats became classified as a health food and have been aggressively promoted as such by the edible oil and processed food industries. The sharp increase in the consumption of products like Crisco and margarine in the United States throughout the 1900's depicts the power of marketing over truth.

Thankfully, because of overwhelming evidence showing the dangers of trans fat, starting January 1, 2006, consumers have been able to find trans fat listed on nutrition labels. Supplement manufacturers will also be mandated to list trans fats on the supplement facts panel.

Buyer beware: Some of your favorite nutrition/protein bars, meal replacement powders and protein powders contain trans fat. Read your labels, but do not be fooled by products that claim “zero trans fat”. Showing their power, the edible oil and processed food industries have, the FDA agreed to allow food labels to list the amount of trans fat as zero if it contains half a gram or less.

Lipid Hypothesis

Americans have been told for more than four decades to decrease the amount of saturated fat in their diets. In the early 1900's, clogged arteries were a medical rarity at any age. In the 1920's, physicians who were trying to study cardiovascular disease (CVD) had to search the country for patients. When an internist named Paul Dudley White introduced his electrocardiograph to his colleagues at Harvard, they advised him to seek a more profitable branch of medicine. White’s invention is the single most used diagnostic tool in cardiac pathologies to date.

By the mid 1950's, CVD became our number one killer and remains the leading killer today. It was around this time that the lipid hypothesis started to gain popularity. The lipid hypothesis, which was proposed by Ancel Keys in the late 1950's, is a theory claiming there is a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of CVD.

Today in the United States on average <2200 Americans die from CVD each day, which equates to one death every 39 seconds. Over 82 million people, or roughly 25% of the U.S., have cardiovascular disease.In 2008, CVD mortality was 55% of “total mortality” in the U.S. This means that out of more than 2.4 million deaths from all causes, CVD was listed as a cause on almost 1.4 million death certificates. [12] CVD causes more deaths than the next seven causes combined. It’s safe to say CVD had a meteoric rise from the 1930's to the 1950's to become number one and to this day shows no signs of giving that position up.

If the lipid hypothesis were true, with the incidence of CVD still on the rise, one would surmise Americans have had a corresponding increase of their consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol. So what do Americans eat? How does our diet differ from the early 1900s?

Evolution of the unhealthy American

What’s decreased?

  • Animal fat consumption has dropped over 21% since 1910. [1]

  • Whole milk consumption has decreased 50%. [13]

  • The consumption of butter has decreased from 18 pounds per year to 4 pounds. [1]

What’s increased?

  • Over the past 80 years, cholesterol consumption has increased a mere 1%. [1]

  • Vegetable oil consumption, including hydrogenated oils, has increased 437%. [13]

  • Sugar consumption went from just over 6 pounds per year in 1822 (the equivalent of one 12oz bottle of soda every five days) (14) to 136 pounds per year in 2009. [15]

If animal fats (saturated fats) are so dangerous, and vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fat) are so healthy, why are we so unhealthy as a nation? The scientific data of the past and present does not support the assertion that saturated fats cause heart disease. As a matter of fact, more than 20 studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack haven’t eaten any more saturated fat than other people, and the degree of atherosclerosis at autopsy is unrelated to diet. [16] Saturated fats have been nourishing societies around the world for thousands of years.

A study of more than one million males in India demonstrated that people in northern India consume more than seventeen times more animal fat than people in southern India. The incidence of CVD in northern India, however, is seven times lower than people in southern India. People in southern India consume much more vegetable oil than in the north. [17]

The French, despite eating 50% more saturated fat than Americans, die two and a half times less often from CVD. This phenomenon is referred to as the French paradox. But it is only a paradox if one believes saturated fat and cholesterol cause CVD. [18]

From 1951 to 1976, the consumption of animal fats in Switzerland increased by 20% despite a decrease in milk intake of 46%. Throughout this same period, smoking increased among women but remained the same among men. If the lipid hypothesis were correct, one would think mortality from cardiovascular disease would also increase. But to the disdain of the hypothesis proponents, mortality from CVD decreased by 22% in males and 46% in females. [19]

The Masai and Samburu tribes of Africa subsist almost completely on milk blood and beef. The Samburu may drink over a gallon of milk each day, which works out to well over one pound of butter fat. The Masai don’t drink as much milk as the Samburu, but eat more meat. Both tribes are virtually free from cardiovascular disease. [16]

The Japanese have the longest lifespan of any nation in the world, which is generally attributed to a low fat diet. The Japanese eat about one third of the dairy products as we do in the U.S., but it is still more than their total fish consumption per year. Their diets contain moderate amounts of animal fats from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood and organ meats. Over the last 50 years, consumption of fats increased 15% and the mean cholesterol levels rose from a low 150 in 1958 to 188 in 1989. Despite the facts that the Japanese smoke much more than Americans and have increased their consumption of fats, they still live longer than any society in the world and have a very low incidence of CVD. [20]

I could go on and on with examples of what other societies eat that fly in the face of the lipid hypothesis, but I’ll end it here. It’s blatantly clear that there is no correlation in this country or any other that supports the lipid hypothesis.

In order for one to believe the lipid hypothesis, one has to believe cholesterol causes heart disease. I for one do not believe cholesterol causes heart disease and am also of the opinion that the lipid hypothesis is the biggest, most harmful scam in American history.

An excerpt from an article “Oiling of America” by Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon.

"In 1956, an American Heart Association (AHA) fund-raiser aired on all three major networks. The MC interviewed, among others, Irving Page and Jeremiah Stamler of the AHA, and researcher Ancel Keys. Panelists presented the lipid hypothesis as the cause of the heart disease epidemic and launched the Prudent Diet, one in which corn oil, margarine, chicken and cold cereal replaced butter, lard, beef and eggs. But the television campaign was not an unqualified success because one of the panelists, Dr. Dudley White, disputed his colleagues at the AHA. Dr. White noted that heart disease in the form of myocardial infarction was nonexistent in 1900 when egg consumption was three times what it was in 1956 and when corn oil was unavailable. When pressed to support the Prudent Diet, Dr. White replied: "See here, I began my practice as a cardiologist in 1921 and I never saw an MI patent until 1928. Back in the MI free days before 1920, the fats were butter and lard and I think that we would all benefit from the kind of diet that we had at a time when no one had ever heard the word corn oil."

There have been opponents to the lipid hypothesis from the beginning, but the powerful edible oil industry and processed food manufacturers, who stood to gain the most from the lipid hypothesis, have succeeded in fooling the public. These two industries have spent tens of millions of dollars promoting and funding research designed to support the lipid hypothesis.

Sources At the end of Part II

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