EVOO & The Truth About Saturated and Unsaturated Fat - Blog # 63
Hello Everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog! We’ve all been told to avoid a high fat diet since before 1980 by the U.S.Dept. of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, saturated fat has been demonized as the cause of high LDL cholesterol and blamed for CVD (cardiovascular disease). We, as a whole, have complied by eating a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet. In response, we’ve gone from a nation with a 13% obesity rate to 40%. Our kids have gone from 5-7% obesity to 21% as of 2018! “A recent study found that 18% of US adolescents (1 in 5) and 24% of young adults (1 in 4) had prediabetes during 2005–2016.” Most of us think the Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t affect us. What comes to mind may be the ‘food pyramid’ or ‘my plate.’ However, these low-fat, high carbohydrate guidelines touch each and every one of us from school lunches to the nutrition facts label on food available at the grocery store.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated every 5 years. “The information in the guidelines is used to develop, implement and evaluate Federal food, nutrition and health policies and programs. It is also the basis for Federal education materials designed for the public and for the nutrition education components of USDA and HHS nutrition programs. State and local governments, schools, the food industry, other businesses, community groups, and media also use Dietary Guidelines.” Even your physician and nutritionists are required or strongly encouraged to refer you to the dietary guidelines - even if you are diabetic!!!
In 1977, after years of discussion, scientific review, and debate, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, led by Senator George McGovern, released Dietary Goals for the United States. The Dietary Goals recommended:
- To avoid overweight, consume only as much energy as is expended; if overweight, decrease energy intake and increase energy expenditure.
- Increase the consumption of complex carbohydrates and “naturally occurring” sugars from about 28 percent of intake to about 48 percent of energy intake.
- Reduce the consumption of refined and processed sugars by about 45 percent to account for about 10 percent of total energy intake.
- Reduce overall fat consumption from approximately 40 percent to about 30 percent of energy intake.
- Reduce saturated fat consumption to account for about 10 percent of total energy intake; and balance that with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which should account for about 10 percent of energy intake each.
- Reduce cholesterol consumption to about 300 milligrams a day.
- Limit the intake of sodium by reducing the intake of salt to about 5 grams a day.
These policies are designed for “healthy” Americans and are considered the “gold standard” to be applied to everyone. Unfortunately, almost 90% of us are unhealthy and these guidelines SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED to everyone. Think about underprivileged children who are eating all meals based on these guidelines, possibly living with an obese parent. Their rate of obesity is even higher. To make matters worse, these guidelines don’t take into account race or ethnicity. They are based on predominately white populations from Norway and Sweden and don’t even include many Americans. So, who the heck is in charge?
The policy officials (2017-2021) include the secretary of USDA (US Department of Agriculture), Sonny Perdue, and the secretary of HHS (Health and Human Services), Alex M. Azar. Unfortunately, there have been conflicts of interest and suppression of scientific research, while pushing refined grains (Perdue owns and exports), added sugars and salt. In December of 2018, Perdue “changed the nutrition standards for school lunches to allow more refined grains, allow milk with added sugar, and increased sodium.”
To further this goal, “July 2019, Perdue ordered two USDA agencies—the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture—to move from the USDA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. to the Kansas City metropolitan area. Two-thirds of the reassigned USDA employees chose to quit rather than accept relocation. The attrition rate was particularly high in the Resource and Rural Economics Division (90%) and in the Food Economics Division (up to 89%).” He also issued a directive to ERS and other research components of USDA, ordering them to include a disclaimer on peer-reviewed research in scientific journals stating that findings and conclusions were "preliminary" and "should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.” One MUST ask why suppress scientific research? Why move these two government agencies causing them to lose 2/3 of their workforce? The answer ultimately is $$$!!!
While secretary of the Department of Agriculture, he also owned AGrowStar, a company that is a full service grain merchandizing company. He pushed for policies to benefit himself and others, even the use of dangerous pesticides, and was fined in 2020 for violating the Hatch Act, accepting campaign contributions from Sun Trust Bank. You think policies will change if it means taking a giant loss of revenue? Hard to cut off the cash cow. What we need is an independent scientific oversight group to critically modify the recommendations. Thankfully, there are scientists lobbying Congress to do just that. However…
“In response to a request from Congress, the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will conduct a study comparing the process to develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 to recommendations included in the previously published report, “Redesigning the Process for Establishing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The project is sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture – Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.” This would be great if it consisted of individuals that DIDN’T have a conflict of interest. However, this ad hoc committee consists of the head of research and development of Nestlé “having played a key role in driving R&D synergies with Atrium Pro, Garden of Life, Persona and Vital Proteins, she became Head of R&D at Vital Proteins in 2021” (Optifast weight loss program), former executive director of Merck, former global director of scientific affairs and obesity Merck, president of Dannon, 5 members consulted with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, 2 are on the board of trustees at ILSI (International Life Sciences Institute), others associated with Kellogg’s, Hershey’s, Mars and Cargil…ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!!!!
So, what IS the truth? The “Dietary Guidelines” may have started out with good intentions, but not much has changed in over 40 years. We now know that good FAT is very beneficial in the diet. It is required in every cell of the body and helps protect brain and heart health. A study published August, 2020 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states: “The recommendation to limit dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake has persisted despite mounting evidence to the contrary. There is no robust evidence that current population-wide arbitrary upper limits on saturated fat consumption in the United States will prevent CVD or reduce mortality.” This is coming from CARDIOLOGISTS, arguably one of the more conservative branches of medicine. They are literally saying that the current recommendation to limit saturated fat to <10% of the diet is wrong!
As early as 2010, “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.” “Most recent meta-analyses of randomized trials and observational studies found no beneficial effects of reducing SFA intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality, and instead found protective effects against stroke. Although SFAs increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, in most individuals, this is not due to increasing levels of small, dense LDL particles, but rather larger LDL particles, which are much less strongly related to CVD risk. It is also apparent that the health effects of foods cannot be predicted by their content in any nutrient group without considering the overall macronutrient distribution. Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of CVD. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.”
WHAT????!!!! Shouldn’t this have been headline news? We’ve been told to stay away from butter, steak, eggs, whole-fat dairy…NOT TRUE! When we eat whole, unprocessed foods, they are already in a state of nutritional balance. What researchers are discovering is that a high starch/high carbohydrate diet is inflammatory and drives metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Yet, the guidelines don’t reflect this - too much $$$ to be made among ALL the agriculture, food, drug conglomerates. Through our tax dollars, we pay for government subsidized programs such as the farm bill, SNAP or food stamps, free school meals, WIC, free food programs for seniors. We even pay for government subsidies on corn totaling $116.6 billion from 1995-2020, including production of high fructose corn syrup with our hard-earned tax dollars.
Okay, let’s take a look at fat. When we look closely at fat, we must understand that the type of fat matters. In 1990, McDonald’s switched from frying their french fries in beef tallow (SFA) to vegetable oil (PUFA) to lower saturated fat in response to the Dietary Guidelines. However, this was before we knew just how bad trans-fats are. In response to the issue with trans-fats, McDonald’s partnered with Cargil (represented in the oversight committee) to formulate a vegetable oil to produce less trans-fats. FYI - McDonald’s serves 69 million customers per day (as of 2018) in over 100 countries and still climbing!!!
- SFA (saturated fat) - appears to be beneficial when it is in natural form - grass-fed steak, butter, whole-fat dairy…Not so much when it is processed into bacon and lunch meats at the deli.
- PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) Omega 6’s: vegetable and seed oils drive up CVD by producing the dangerous very low density LDLs and metabolic syndrome. Omega 3’s: DHA, EPA, ALA have a protective effect. The recommended ratio of Omega 6:Omega 3 is 3:1, but ideal is closer to 1:1. The current ratio in the typical American diet is 25:1 (big problem!)
- MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) Oleic Acid in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) improves the ratio of HDL:LDL and protects the arteries from atherosclerosis and CVD. Huge benefit is the polyphenols that are anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, anti-cancer, neuroprotective and play a HUGE role in epigenetics and longevity!!!
When you go out to a restaurant, you are eating primarily Omega 6 fats. If you are choosing fried foods, these foods are fried in vegetable or seed oils that are re-heated multiple times. Trust me, you are getting trans-fats. You are also getting AGEs (advanced glycation end products). “Dietary advanced glycation end products (dAGEs) are known to contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation, which are linked to the recent epidemics of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” These are the browned, crispy edges on foods. The crust on crème brûlée, the outer crispy edges on french fries, the grill marks on meat, the crust on bread…This happens inside our bodies!!! It causes organ dysfunction, obesity, metabolic dysfunction, Alzheimer’s, cancer, T2D, CVD…
So, now that we know the dietary guidelines DO NOT APPLY to us, what foods should we eat to optimize our health and prevent disease?
- Increase good fat in the diet - Our brain is 60% fat and relies on ketones for good brain health! Every cell in the body requires fat. We can’t heal or make repairs to our body without fat - EVOO, Omega 3 fish oils, grass-fed butter, avocado oil, ghee - FYI, fat doesn’t make you fat -
- Limit or avoid refined grains and processed foods high in carbohydrates, starches and sugars - FYI, sugar and starchy carbohydrates make you fat -
- Avoid fried foods, particularly fried sugar/carbohydrates - like french fries and fried sweet foods - these contribute the most to disease and AGE - no pun intended!
- Eat fiber for your microbiome - include high fiber foods that feed the good microbes
- Eat clean proteins - grass-fed steak, pastured chicken and eggs, wild-caught fatty fish (particularly the small ones have lower mercury) - FYI, as we get older we need to eat muscle to gain muscle -
- Eat the rainbow of whole vegetables and fruits for phytonutrients and polyphenols - dark leafy greens, cruciferous, brightly colored berries - FYI, polyphenols are the epigenetic superheroes -
- HP-EVOO - high polyphenol EVOO is a SUPERFOOD!!! The more polyphenols, the better effect on your body! If your DNA is an orchestra, the conductor is polyphenols - literally turn off cancer genes and turn on tumor-killing genes - EVOO goes a long way in protecting us from ALL disease -