Food Facts & Fallacies

Food Facts & Fallacies
You Are What You Eat

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eating Fat & Growing Slim In Practice

Contributed by Larry Silverstein


 The Seven Countries Study

In the year 1958, an American scientist called Ancel Keys started an OBSERVATIONAL NOT A CLINICAL  study called the Seven Countries Study, which examined the association between diet and cardiovascular disease in different countries.
The study revealed that the countries where fat consumption was the highest had the most heart disease, supporting the idea that dietary fat caused heart disease.
The problem is that he intentionally left out:
  • Countries where people eat a lot of fat but have little heart disease, such as Holland and Norway.
  • Countries where fat consumption is low but the rate of heart disease is high, such as Chile.
Basically, he only used data from the countries that supported his theory, a process known as cherry picking.
This highly flawed observational study gained massive media attention and had a major influence on the dietary guidelines of the next few decades.

The McGovern Committee

In 1977, an American committee of the U.S. senate led by George McGovern published the first Dietary Goals For The United States in order to reverse the epidemic of heart disease in the country.
These guidelines received massive criticism at the time from many respected scientists like John Yudkin (who insisted that sugar was to blame) and the American Medical Association.
Basically, the dietary goals were:
  • Eat less fat and cholesterol.
  • Less refined and processed sugars.
  • More complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and grains.
These guidelines were picked up by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) – very convenient for them since their job is to sell grains.
Basically, a low-fat, high-carb diet… for everyone.
The whole guidelines were based on observational studies made by biased scientists and had nothing even closely resembling scientific proof to back them up.
Since then, many randomized controlled trials have shown that this dietary approach doesn’t really work for the people it was meant to help.
An interesting fact is that the obesity epidemic started around the time these guidelines were published and the diabetes epidemic followed soon after.

Nutrition is Stuck in a Paradigm Based on Lies and Bad Science

It is important to realize the massive significance of this.
This idea that saturated fat caused heart disease was the cornerstone of modern nutrition policy and the reason health authorities turned away from a higher fat diet rich in animal foods, towards a low-fat, high-carb diet with plenty of grains.
Even though saturated fat has now been proven to be harmless, modern nutrition is still stuck in that same paradigm based on cherry picking, lies and just plain bad science.
Nutritionists are still preaching the low-fat, high-carb dogma that has pretty much been proven to be ineffective for the majority of the population and may even be downright dangerous for some people.


US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

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Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725. Epub 2010 Jan 13.

Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.

Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM.


Children's Hospital, Oakland Research Institute Oakland, CA, USA.



A reduction in dietary saturated fat has generally been thought to improve cardiovascular health.


The objective of this meta-analysis was to summarize the evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD; CHD inclusive of stroke) in prospective epidemiologic studies.


Twenty-one studies identified by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE databases and secondary referencing qualified for inclusion in this study. A random-effects model was used to derive composite relative risk estimates for CHD, stroke, and CVD.


During 5-23 y of follow-up of 347,747 subjects, 11,006 developed CHD or stroke. Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD. The pooled relative risk estimates that compared extreme quantiles of saturated fat intake were 1.07 (95% CI: 0.96, 1.19; P = 0.22) for CHD, 0.81 (95% CI: 0.62, 1.05; P = 0.11) for stroke, and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.89, 1.11; P = 0.95) for CVD. Consideration of age, sex, and study quality did not change the results.


A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.

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A Lean Time For The Housewife
“The ‘don’t-give-me-any-fat’ attitude of housewives is likely to force up the price of the week-end joint. So many young cattle have been killed off in response to the demand for lean meat that there is a shortage of store cattle for fattening on the summer grass.
“Ever since the end of rationing, butchers have found that housewives will not tolerate fat and this has led to the premature slaughtering of cattle which before the war would have been described as scraggy and unfinished. Many farmers and butchers feel that the housewife’s aversion from fat is becoming a fetish and a strong plea that the housewife should be educated in meat quality was made recently by Mr. F. W. Salisbury, director of the large firm in the Home Counties”. (Sainsbury’s.)
“So much has been written to warn humans of the disadvantages of obesity,” he said, ”that in my opinion the pendulum has swung too far in favour of unfinished meat. Experiments had shown that palatability in terms of texture, flavour and juiciness increased with the fat content up to an optimum of 38% of fatty meat. .”
Mr. Salisbury might also have said what nonsense is written about fat being fattening.

With unfinished meat it is very difficult to eat the ideal proportion of 1 part of fat to 3 parts lean, which gets weight off most efficiently on a low-carbohydrate diet.

A Simple Low-Carb Shopping List
A good rule is to shop at the perimeter of the supermarket, where the whole foods are likelier to be found.
Organic and grass-fed foods are best, but only if you can easily afford them. Even if you don’t buy organic, your diet will still be a thousand times better than the standard western diet.
Try to choose the least processed option that still fits into your price range.
You should base your diet on these real, unprocessed, low-carb foods.
  • Meat: Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best.
  • Fish: Salmon, trout, haddock and many others. Wild-caught fish is best.
  • Eggs: Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
  • Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and many others.
  • Fruits: Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Avocadoes, Olives
  • High-Fat Dairy: Cheese, butter, heavy cream, Natural full-fat Yogurt.
  • Fats and Oils: Coconut oil  (Choose Extra Virgin), butter, lard, Olive oil, Walnut oil, Grapeseed oil and Cod fish liver oil.
  • Condiments: sea salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, etc.
If you need to lose weight, be careful with the cheese and nuts because they’re easy to overeat on. Don’t eat more than one piece of fruit per day.
I recommend clearing your pantry of all unhealthy temptations if you can: chips, candy, ice cream, sodas, juices, breads, cereals and baking ingredients like wheat flour and sugar.

Why is Coconut Oil Good For You? The Healthiest Oil for Cooking

Populations That Eat a LOT of Coconut Are Healthy

If coconut fat were bad for you, then we should see some very sick people in populations that eat a lot of it.
But we don’t. Populations who eat a large percentage of calories from coconuts are MUCH healthier than Western nations.
The Tokelauans ate more than 50% of calories as coconut and were the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world. The Kitavans ate up to 17% of calories as saturated fat, mostly from coconut.
Both of these populations had no traces of cardiovascular disease despite the high saturated fat consumption and were overall in exceptional health
Bottom Line: Populations that eat a lot of coconut are in excellent health.

Coconut Oil Has a Unique Composition of Fatty Acids

Coconut oil is very different from most other cooking oils and contains a unique composition of fatty acids.
The fatty acids are about 90% saturated.
This makes coconut oil highly resistant to oxidation at high heats. For this reason, it is the perfect oil for high-heat cooking methods like frying.
Additionally, coconut oil consists almost entirely of Medium Chain Triglycerides.
These fatty acids go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are likely to be turned into ketone bodies and provide a quick source of energy.
Epileptic patients on ketogenic diets often use these fats to induce ketosis while allowing for a little bit of carbs in the diet.
Bottom Line: Coconut oil is rich in saturated medium chain fatty acids. They are resistant to high heat and can easily turn into ketone bodies in the liver.

Coconut Oil is Rich in Lauric Acid

The most abundant fatty acid in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric Acid, which is broken down into a compound called monolaurin in the body.
Lauric acid and monolaurin are both very interesting due to the fact that they can kill microbes like bacteria, fungi and viruses.
For this reason, coconut oil can be protective against various infections.
Bottom Line: The main fatty acid in coconut is an efficient killer of pathogens.

Coconut Oil, Blood Lipids and Cardiovascular Disease

Unrefined coconut oil actually improves blood lipid profiles.
In two separate rat studies, virgin coconut oil was compared against copra oil (refined coconut oil) and corn oil.
The virgin coconut oil significantly reduced Total and LDL cholesterol, oxidized LDL, triglycerides and increased HDL (the good) cholesterol.
It also had favorable effects on blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status.
In a study of women with abdominal obesity, coconut oil increased HDL and lowered the LDL:HDL ratio, while soybean oil increased Total and LDL cholesterol and decreased HDL.
Medium chain triglycerides (the fats in coconut oil) have also been shown to reduce blood triglycerides compared to long chain fats .
Coconut oil may be protective against heart disease, not the other way around.
Bottom Line: Coconut oil improves blood lipids in both animals and humans.

Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Weight

There is considerable evidence that coconut oil can help you lose weight.
In a study of 40 women with abdominal obesity, coconut oil reduced waist circumference compared to soybean oil while also improving health markers (see above).
Medium chain triglycerides have also been consistently shown to promote weight loss in both animal and human studies:
  • They increase energy expenditure compared to long chain fats.
  • They lead to greater satiety.
  • They lead to a greater proportion of the weight lost come from fat, indicating that they may be muscle sparing.
Substituting other calorie sources for coconut oil is likely to help you lose weight.
Bottom Line: The fatty acids in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure, improve satiety and help you lose weight.

Coconut Oil Has Other Amazing Health Benefits

Like I mentioned above, coconut oil is likely to turn into ketone bodies in the liver.
Ketone bodies can provide energy for the brain. They are particularly useful against epilepsy and may also improve various other disorders.
Coconut oil applied topically can also moisturize skin and protect against hair damage.
To top it all off, coconut oil goes with almost any food and tastes awesome.

Top 11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition

There is a lot of misinformation circling around in mainstream nutrition.
I have listed the worst examples in this article, but unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are the top 11 biggest lies, myths and misconceptions of mainstream nutrition.

1. Eggs Are Unhealthy

There’s one thing that nutrition professionals have had remarkable success with… and that is demonizing incredibly healthy foods.
The worst example of that is eggs, which happen to contain a large amount of cholesterol and were therefore considered to increase the risk of heart disease.
But recently it has been proven that the cholesterol in the diet doesn’t really raise the cholesterol in blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease.
What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They’re high in all sorts of nutrients along with unique antioxidants that protect our eyes.
To top it all of, despite being a “high fat” food, eating eggs for breakfast is proven to cause significant weight loss compared to bagels for breakfast.
Bottom Line: Eggs do not cause heart disease and are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight.

2. Saturated Fat is Bad For You

A few decades ago it was decided that the epidemic of heart disease was caused by eating too much fat, in particular saturated fat.
This was based on highly flawed studies and political decisions that have now been proven to be completely wrong.
A massive review article published in 2010 looked at 21 prospective epidemiological studies with a total of 347.747 subjects. Their results: absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease.
The idea that saturated fat raised the risk of heart disease was an unproven theory that somehow became conventional wisdom.
Eating saturated fat raises the amount of HDL (the “good”) cholesterol in the blood and changes the LDL from small, dense LDL (very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign.
Meat, coconut oil, cheese, butter… there is absolutely no reason to fear these foods.
Bottom Line: Newer studies have proven that saturated fat does not cause heart disease. Natural foods that are high in saturated fat are good for you.

3. Everybody Should be Eating Grains

The idea that humans should be basing their diets on grains has never made sense to me.
The agricultural revolution happened fairly recently in human evolutionary history and our genes haven’t changed that much.
Grains are fairly low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid which binds essential minerals in the intestine and prevents them from being absorbed.
The most common grain in the western diet, by far, is wheat… and wheat can cause a host of health problems, both minor and serious.
Modern wheat contains a large amount of a protein called gluten, but there is evidence that a significant portion of the population may be sensitive to it.
Eating gluten can damage the intestinal lining, cause pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and tiredness. Gluten consumption has also been associated with schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia, both serious disorders of the brain.
Bottom Line: Grains are relatively low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. The gluten grains in particular may lead to a variety of health problems.

4. Eating a Lot of Protein is Bad For Your Bones and Kidneys

A high protein diet has been claimed to cause both osteoporosis and kidney disease.
It is true that eating protein increases calcium excretion from the bones in the short term, but the long term studies actually show the opposite effect.
In the long term, protein has a strong association with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture.
Additionally, studies don’t show any association of high protein with kidney disease in otherwise healthy people.
In fact, two of the main risk factors for kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. Eating a high protein diet improves both.
If anything, a high protein diet should be protective against osteoporosis and kidney failure!
Bottom Line: Eating a high protein diet is associated with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. High protein also lowers blood pressure and improves diabetes symptoms, which should lower the risk of kidney failure.

5. Low-Fat Foods Are Good For You

Do you know what regular food tastes like when all the fat has been taken out of it?
Well, it tastes like cardboard. No one would want to eat it.
The food manufacturers know this and therefore they add other things to compensate for the lack of fat.
Usually these are sweeteners… sugar, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
We’ll get to the sugar in a moment, but I’d like to point out that even though artificial sweeteners don’t have calories, the evidence does NOT suggest that they are better for you than sugar.
In fact, many observational studies show a consistent, highly significant association with various diseases like obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, premature delivery and depression.
In these low-fat products, healthy natural fats are being replaced with substances that are extremely harmful.
Bottom Line: Low-fat foods are usually highly processed products loaded with sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. They are extremely unhealthy.

6. You Should Eat Many Small Meals Throughout The Day

The idea that you should eat many small meals throughout the day in order to “keep metabolism high” is a persistent myth that doesn’t make any sense.
It is true that eating raises your metabolism slightly while you’re digesting the meal, but it’s the total amount of food that determines the energy used, NOT the number of meals.
This has actually been put to the test and refuted multiple times. Controlled studies where one group eats many small meals and the other the same amount of food in fewer meals show that there is literally no difference between the two.
In fact, one study in obese men revealed that eating 6 meals per day led to less feelings of fullness compared to 3 meals.
Not only is eating so often practically useless for most of the people out there, it may even be harmful.
It is not natural for the human body to be constantly in the fed state. In nature, we used to fast from time to time and we didn’t eat nearly as often as we do today.
When we don’t eat for a while, a cellular process called autophagy cleans waste products out of our cells. Fasting or not eating from time to time is good for you.
Several observational studies show a drastically increased risk of colon cancer (4th most common cause of cancer death), numbers going as high as a 90% increase for those who eat 4 meals per day compared to 2.
Bottom Line: There is no evidence that eating many small meals throughout the day is better than fewer, bigger meals. Not eating from time to time is good for you. Increased meal frequency is associated with colon cancer.

7. Carbs Should Be Your Biggest Source of Calories

The mainstream view is that everyone should eat a low-fat diet, with carbs being around 50-60% of total calories.
This sort of diet contains a lot of grains and sugars, with very small amounts of fatty foods like meat and eggs.
This type of diet may work well for some people, especially those who are naturally lean.
But for those who are obese, have the metabolic syndrome or diabetes, this amount of carbohydrates is downright dangerous.
This has actually been studied extensively. A low-fat, high-carb diet has been compared to a low-carb, high-fat diet in multiple randomized controlled trials.
The results are consistently in favor of low-carb, high-fat diets.
Bottom Line: The low-fat, high-carb diet is a miserable failure and has been proven repeatedly to be vastly inferior to lower-carb, higher-fat diets.

8. High Omega-6 Seed and Vegetable Oils Are Good For You

Polyunsaturated fats are considered healthy because some studies show that they lower your risk of heart disease.
But there are many types of polyunsaturated fats and they are not all the same.
Most importantly, we have both Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and lower your risk of many diseases related to inflammation. Humans actually need to get Omega-6s and Omega-3s in a certain ratio. If the ratio is too high in favor of Omega-6, it can cause problems.
By far the biggest sources of Omega-6 in the modern diet are processed seed and vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower oils.
Through human history, humans never had access to such an abundance of Omega-6 fats. It is unnatural for the human body.
Research that specifically looks at Omega-6 fatty acids instead of polyunsaturated fats in general shows that they actually increase the risk of heart disease.
Eat your Omega-3s and consider supplementing with cod fish liver oil, but avoid the industrial seed and vegetable oils.
Bottom Line: Humans need to get Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats in a certain ratio. Eating excess Omega-6 from seed oils raises your risk of disease.

9. Low Carb Diets Are Dangerous

I personally believe low-carb diets to be a potential cure for many of the most common health problems in western nations.
The low-fat diet peddled all around the world is fairly useless against many of these diseases. It simply does not work.
However, low-carb diets (demonized by nutritionists and the media) have repeatedly been shown to lead to much better outcomes.
Every randomized controlled trial on low-carb diets shows that they:
  1. Reduce body fat more than calorie-restricted low-fat diets, even though the low-carb dieters are allowed to eat as much as they want.
  2. Lower blood pressure significantly.
  3. Lower blood sugar and improve symptoms of diabetes much more than low-fat diets.
  4. Increase HDL (the good) cholesterol much more.
  5. Lower triglycerides much more than low-fat diets.
  6. Change the pattern of LDL (bad) cholesterol from small, dense (very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign.
  7. Low carb diets are also easier to stick to, probably because they don’t require you to restrict calories and be hungry all the time. More people in the low-carb groups make it to the end of the studies.
Many of the health professionals that are supposed to have our best interest in mind have the audacity to claim that these diets are dangerous, then continue to peddle their failed low-fat dogma that is hurting more people than it helps.
Bottom Line: Low-carb diets are the healthiest, easiest and most effective way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease. It is a scientific fact.

10. Sugar is Unhealthy Because it Contains “Empty” Calories

It is commonly believed that sugar is bad for you because it contains empty calories.
It’s true, sugar has a lot of calories with no essential nutrients. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Sugar, primarily because of its high fructose content, affects metabolism in a way that sets us up for rapid fat gain and metabolic disease.
Fructose gets metabolized by the liver and turned into fat which is secreted into the blood as VLDL particles. This leads to elevated triglycerides and cholesterol.
It also causes resistance to the hormones insulin and leptin, which is a stepping stone towards obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
This is just to name a few. Sugar causes a relentless biochemical drive for humans to eat more and get fat. It is probably the single worst ingredient in the standard western diet.
Bottom Line: The harmful effects of sugar go way beyond empty calories. Sugar wreaks havoc on our metabolism and sets us up for weight gain and many serious diseases.

11. High Fat Foods Will Make You Fat

It seems kind of intuitive that eating fat would make you get fat.
The stuff that is gathering under our skin and making us look soft and puffy is fat. So… eating fat should give our bodies even more of it.
But it isn’t that simple. Despite fat having more calories per gram than carbohydrate or protein, high-fat diets do not make people fat.
As with anything, this depends on the context. A diet that is high in fat AND high in carbs will make you fat, but it’s NOT because of the fat.
In fact, diets that are high in fat (and low in carbs) cause much greater fat loss than diets that are low in fat.

12. Anything Else?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

How Can You Optimize Your Cholesterol Levels?

The most effective way to optimize your cholesterol profile and prevent heart disease is via diet and exercise. It's actually quite simple too. Remember that 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels.
Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol and reduce your risk of both diabetes and heart disease. There is NO magic pill to cure heart disease, as the underlying cause is insulin resistance caused by eating too many sugars, grains and especially fructose.
How has this dislike of the idea of fat taken hold?
In two ways: more recently, as a result of propaganda for high-protein diets, and over many years because of the use of certain words in our language which have given visible fat unpleasant associations. For although many people will tell you they cannot eat fat you will find that it is only in certain forms and under certain names that they refuse it.
They will eat butter, bacon and suet puddings quite happily but the words blubber, greasy food and cold mutton fat make them queasy. The truth is that a rose by any other name does not smell as sweet and we are all extremely sensitive to word-associations, pleasant and unpleasant.
To-day the word “fat” itself has come under nearly as strong a taboo as blubber and tallow in years gone by. But notice that it is not fat itself which is disliked but only what people think of as “fat.”
The man who cuts the fat off his ham will admit to being very fond of steak pudding and the woman who “can’t stand that greasy Spanish food” will cheerfully polish off a couple of chocolate sundaes.
In fact, the consumption of edible fats has risen steadily over the years, but the rise has been mainly in the consumption of “invisible” fats, contained in bacon, lean meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs, ice-cream, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, nuts and mayonnaise.
Visible fat consumption has gone up too but more in respect of popularly approved fats-butter, cooking fats and oils, margarine-than the unpopular animal fats, lard, ham fat, mutton fat and beef fat and dripping.
So opposition to fat is apparent rather than real and anyone who starts to eat a high-fat diet can do so without offending their tastes by choosing-at first anyway-those foods high in “invisible” or “approved” fats which they like already.
After a week or two on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet they will be surprised to find that they will develop a taste for fat of all kinds and will relish the fat crackling on pork and the fat layer on a joint of roast beef. They will have got back to the ideal diet of their forefathers and will be living on the fat of the land.
Lately, too, the false story that fats predispose to heart disease has tended to put people off the visible fats which they think of as “fat” in the obvious sense.
Lastly, the third personal objection: the fat person’s craving for starch and sweet things. Carbohydrate foods are the cheapest foods and are most readily to hand for snacks. Therefore, if people are going to over-eat, whether for social or emotional reasons, they will probably tend to over-eat starch and sugar.

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