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On the recent thread cholesterol and veganism we got into a discussion of "good" and "bad" fats. Among other sources, people cited the Weston A. Price website and an article about Dr. Walter Willett, a nutritionist at Harvard's School of Public Health. I did some more Googling and found myself increasingly confused. So over Shabbat I decided to read my three books on nutrition, Rebecca Wood's New Whole Food Encyclopedia, Andrew Weil's Eating Well for Optimum Health, and Paul Pitchford's Healing with Whole Foods. All combine some Western nutritional research with some traditional medicine, with the highest proportion of research in the Weil book and the highest proportion of traditional medicine (and general, unsystematized random anedoctal weirdness) in the Pitchford book. I have also read Dean Ornish's book Eat More Weigh Less, which advocates a diet of no oils, no nuts, no avocados and no animal products (so the only fats are the minimal amounts in beans and grains.)

Here is the problem: most nutritional authorities agree that the Western diet is too high in fat. (Price website is out of this mainstream, as we saw in the other thread.) Everyone informed by current research is concerned about the consumption of essential fatty acids (EFAs.) Some authorities advocate the consumption of polyunsaturated fats, like canola and soy oil, because of their EFA content (this includes Willett.) Others, like Pitchford and Wood, think that soy oil is too refined and can break down, and that canola oil is toxic because of erucic acid. (Pitchford says unrefined, expeller pressed canola might be okay.) Weil thinks that you shouldn't eat any food in which soy or canola oil is cooked. Wood and Pitchford think of clarified butter (ghee) as a good cooking fat, because it doesn't break down, and both think that coconut and palm oils are okay under certain conditions for the same reason. (Wood if you are not overweight and Pitchford if you have been a strict vegetarian for awhile.) Weil doesn't like any of the saturated fats, and promotes the use of extra-virgin olive oil. All think that the use of flax seeds and walnuts is a good thing for their EFA content, but some think that the oil is okay, others that it breaks down too fast, etc.

Both Weil and Willett base their recommendations in part on evidence from the Harvard Nurses Study, which is an ongoing longitudinal study of many women. Yet they arrived at different conclusions about whether to eat cooked polyunsaturated oils.

How do you sort this stuff out for yourself? Saturated fat because it doesn't break down when you heat it, or no saturated fat? Polyunsaturates or no? Do you only use olive oil? Or do you eat only beef tallow and goose schmaltz?

TIA for weighing in with your various opinions.
 

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Beef tallow and goose schmaltz!!!

No, really, we usually use extra virgin olive oil for almost all our cooking. We also use canola for making Indian and other dishes in which the taste of olive oil would be offensive, but I'll have to reconsider that after some of the info that's come out in the other thread. Perhaps we should make the switch to ghee.

Er...we DO use some duck fat, but generally only in cassoulet, which we don't make very often. We could probably be persuaded to do so for frying potatoes, but we virtually never fix potatoes this way. We also use bacon fat in refried beans and in sauteeing veggies for the occasional soup in which we use bacon as flavoring.
 

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For cold things that dont need to be cooked: First cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. I think the smoking point is too low to use it in cooking, the heat mangles the molecules and changes them into something dangerous.

For things that need to be cooked: Using up the last of our regular canola right now, then probably ghee because it's easy to find. Of course with ghee, if you use plain old butter to make your ghee, then you're getting all the concentrated toxins from the cow and whatever's been pumped into her, so i guess it would really need to be organic butter. If i could find organic lard, we'd use that--after all, our paleo ancestors used to live off of stuff like that and that's what our bodies are designed to run off of. If i had a cheap local source for cold pressed or expelier coconut oil, we'd use that. So, i'm not sure, we havent found a solution to that one in our home, yet!
 

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We use olive oil (never heated though) virgin coconut oil (for heating) and virgin palm oil (again for heating) as well as Hazelnut oil (again not heated) some ghee on occasion too.

Heating of unstable oils causes them to form trans fatty acids.
Here's one reason why we don't use canoal oils And we stay away from PUFA 6 oils.

In 1996, the Japanese announced a study wherein a special Canola oil diet had actually killed laboratory animals. Reacting to this unpublished, but verified and startling information, a duplicate study was conducted by Canadian scientists using piglets and a Canola oil based milk replacer diet.

In this second study published in Nutrition Research, 1997, v17, the researchers verified that Canola oil somehow depleted the piglets of vitamin E to a dangerously low level.

In the abstract of the study, the Canadian researchers made the following remarkable statement: It is known that ingestion of oils containing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) of the n-3 and n -6 series results in a high degree of unsaturation in membrane phospholipids, which in turn may increase lipid peroxidation, cholesterol oxidation, free radical accumulation and membrane damage. All very bad attributes.

That statement is remarkable because PUFA is considered essential to a healthy diet. Yet none of the above listed results of eating it may be considered healthy. So now we have something seemingly brand new to the dietary health arena.

Here the Canadians are condemning any oil that contains essential fatty acids. EFAs cannot stand heat. They turn rancid quickly. Proper processing, i.e., cold pressing, and protection from oxygen for storage is paramount with EFAs. Mainstream toxic commercial food making requires complete removal of EFAs lest shelf life disappear in smelly rancidity.

Absent the removal of EFAs, few manufactured toxic chemical foods would make it out of the warehouse. So, here we have Canadians telling us that their country's main oil export kills little animals. They suggest that perhaps it was the health giving EFAs left in the Canola oil after it had been scorched at temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit to get rid of the EFAs. They don't tell you that whatever EFAs are left in the oil, are now poisonous rancid fats. It may be that the now toxic remnants are what's killing the vitamin E, and killing the little piggies. I think the Canadians produced that deceptive half truth to protect their careers from grant drought.

Firstly, the idea of something depleting vitamin E rapidly is an alarming development. Vitamin E is absolutely essential to human health, and when so much PUFA is available to diet as it is today, the demand evidently becomes even more imperative because tocopherols control the lipid peroxidation that results in dangerous free radical activity, which causes lesions in arteries and other problems.

Canola oil now has been shown to be a very heavy abuser of tocopherols or vitamin E, with the potential for rapidly depleting a body of the important vitamin. The researchers did not know what factors in the Canola oil were responsible. They reported that other vegetable seed oils did not appear to cause the same problem in piglets.
 

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Aslo you might be surprised to learn that at least one of the authurs you mentioned does indeed recommend coconut and palm oils for everyone. The author's understanding of fats and oils has changed since the book was published.
 

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I guess I just go with the old-fashioned fats because they have been tested and tried for a long time. I have a hard time following all the new recommendations based entirely on scientific research.
We cook at home with organic butter and extra-virgin olive oil. I used to have flax, but I'm not crazy about the flavor. I'd like to start using lard for cooking too. I also have coconut oil that I used to use for certain dishes, but now I only use it externally because I dipped my fingers into the jar.
My favorite is butter if it's from grass-fed cows and organic, because of the high content of vitamin A and D. Another fave is cod liver oil, esp during the long dark winters. I like olive oil but olives don't grow here in Sweden, so it doesn't feel like I need it since I can do well with other fats that are more local.
Marlena- where do you get the duck fat from? By preparing duck?
 

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elainie,
are you referring to willet?

we use coconut oil, olive oil, butter, ghee. we don't heat butter, though....i cannot stand the smell of it being warmed. only occassionally dh will do this and i can always tell when he has heated butter! we don't use any canola oil or other veg oils.

i try to avoid products made with oils, too as i generally assume that the oils are rancid. in any case, most products are not made with oils that i eat anyway but are made with soybean or canola.

i love fats and oils though and eat a lot of them. we eat avocados and olives quite often. i can't imagine being on a diet that contains very little to no fat because i think it leads to overeating and weight gain. i don't think it is at all healthy as i believe that we need fat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I guess when I say it's a gloopy morass, I mean that I kind of trust ALL of these nutritional authorities--at least to the extent that I think they are being honorable and trying to give good advice. The question is, what information do they think is important and what do they discount? Which information should I think is important and which should I discount?

So far I'm only happy with my olive oil consumption, and even that I'm concerned about because we don't always buy it in colored glass or metal. (Reading all these books reminded me about the issue of light affecting oil.) I also feel okay about sesame oil.

We do sometimes use organic ghee--we don't make it ourselves because, uh, I don't know why we don't. I've done it before. Today a friend who bakes warned me that if we go over to using homemade ghee more often, we will find that the price of butter fluctuates wildly. We use ghee because it doesn't have lactose or casein so we aren't sensitive to it. But even though it's heat stable, I'm still worried about the saturated fat issue. i still think it's an issue, I'm not persuaded that I shouldn't worry about it...especially since high cholesterol levels run in my family, and we have heart disease like mad.
 

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Yes, we render the fat from the ducks that we roast and save it. We presently have about two medium jars of it in the refrigerator. You can purchase it (the only good source I know is based in the U.S., though), but why spend money on it when you can make it yourself, and in such a tasty manner?


T

I can't wait till it starts cooling down, so we can make all those fabulous cold-weather foods, like roast duck and osso buco and choucroute garni and the rest!!!
 

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Also
T - man, Marlena, you have not only fallen off the veggie wagon, you have chopped that wagon up with an ax for firewood to roast your dead animals over! :LOL

Back on topic, I just saw a blurb on the Nurses' Health Study that found that women who eat more animal fat get a lot more breast cancer. I will try to find a link to post.

One of my reasons for wanting to get my fats and proteins from non-animal sources is the environmental contaminants that bioaccumulate in animal flesh. Whether or not it's healthy to eat organic, uncontaminated meat, I'm just not sure there's any such thing these days. Animals raised organically still have flesh contaminated with pollutants from air, soil, and water pollution.
 

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Nah, Jane, we have enough oak and pecan trees on our property that need pruning often enough to keep my husband happily in hardwood for the smoker year-round - we don't need that wagon wood!!


Re animal fats and proteins, I hear what you're saying. However, it would seem that you'd have to go vegan in order to help avoid the contaminants which you mention. And then plants pick up their own share of contaminants, no? - even organic ones. I imagine (but do not know) that they generally have less potential than animal fats to contain high levels of toxins. However, given the state of the environment, one can't avoid contaminants and toxins altogether. The question is where to draw the line, and why.
 

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we buy and eat the least contaminated animal food possible as we get everything from local, organic farmers who also have the animals on pasture. it is possible, it just takes a lot of work to find out how to obtain some of these foods.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by captain optimism

But even though it's heat stable, I'm still worried about the saturated fat issue. i still think it's an issue, I'm not persuaded that I shouldn't worry about it...especially since high cholesterol levels run in my family, and we have heart disease like mad.
I'm with you on this one. Although I certainly don't think saturated fat is evil, I'm not convinced that just because our ancestors used it means I should chow down on all the bacon fat and lard and butter I can get my hands on.


I don't think we can look at our ancestors' diets in a vacuum. IF modern humans led lives that were as active as our ancestors and needed all that fat (and its calories) for fuel, then I would have no problem championing the use of saturated fats. Unfortunately, we don't even come close to being that active. They were more active in one week than most people are in a lifetime.

IMO a diet high in saturated fats combined with the typical modern Westerner's sedentary to moderately active lifestyle (riding cars buses subways vs walking; sitting at a desk; sitting in front of a computer; not having to spend all day hunting or foraging for that evening's meal, or collecting firewood and water, or repairing our shelters, etc...) is a recipe for disaster, ESPECIALLY given our high simple carb consumption as well.

So, the only thing I'm ok with right now is my consumption of olive oil and fats as they occur naturally in plant souces (i.e. avocados, nuts, seeds). I don't avoid saturated fats (I love a good hamburger) but I'm also not going whole hog (pardon the pun :LOL) because I just don't think it's healthy to be eating lots of it without having the activity level to go along with it.

mmm this is making me hungry!!!
 

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Well I have eaten a high fat diet for years now and stayed thin and healthy.
But, the fats I choose to have in my diet are not animal fats, eggs, or dairy.
I choose to have loads of EFA's in the form of nuts, seeds, avocados, hemp oil and hemp seeds, flax oil and flax seeds, some olive oil, occassional grapeseed oil, occassional wild salmon, a vegetarian supplement of mixed oils (omega 3-6-9) and a DHA/EPA supplement. I also was taking CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) for a while.

I personally think it's the high sugar/high simple carb diet that is dangerous. I think if a person eats animal fats and dairy then it should be done in moderation. I also think every diet vegan, veg, meat eaters, whatever, should add lots off omega fats to their diet.

Look at the Okinawa, said to be the healthiest culture on earth~ they eat a diet high in omega fats, low in animal fats.
 

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bebe luna, to clarify, this is what I said in my post:

Quote:
Originally posted by Qtopia

IMO a diet high in saturated fats combined with the typical modern Westerner's sedentary to moderately active lifestyle (riding cars buses subways vs walking; sitting at a desk; sitting in front of a computer; not having to spend all day hunting or foraging for that evening's meal, or collecting firewood and water, or repairing our shelters, etc...) is a recipe for disaster, ESPECIALLY given our high simple carb consumption as well.
I never said that a high fat diet was unhealthy, in fact I think that all of the fats and oils that you (and I) eat are very healthy. I don't think anyone should aim for a low fat diet but rather should be selective about the fats that they do eat- can anyone really argue that a hamburger is as healthy as an avocado, or almonds, or flax oil, or salmon?

And as for the Okinawa: I think their diet sounds great! And I bet that they are ALSO much more active than 99.9% of Americans.
 

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i really doubt that anyone will believe it when i say this but if you are talking about beef from a grass-fed animal than yes, i do believe that it can be as healthy as the other things that you listed. grass-fed beef has a lot of omega-3. it's hard to believe because we are so used to hearing that animal fat = heart disease. i don't believe it and think that bad fats (trans fats in margarine and other unstable vegetable oils) and sugar are more likely to be culprits of these diseases of lifestyle. again, JMO.
 

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This is a great discussion. There are other reasons besides heart disease why animal fat is not a good choice but that's another talk for another thread.

I haven't read all these books BUT I did see a nutritionist for a few months when I was getting exhausted - it was about five years ago now. I learned a lot from him.

Ghee is good

The other oils that are good are canola and olive in moderation and he absolutely mandated that these oils be added after the high heat stage of the cooking in order to not break down. The broken down fats are the one that breed free radicals/carcinogens.

I use these oils a lot but have to say I have long since reverted to my old ways of cooking. Throwing the garlic bits on the high heated olive oil when I make my sauces for pasta (he would say put the garlic in last and limit the oil to the last stage of the cooking)

sometimes preparation really has a lot to do with if foods/oils are good/bad...
 

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nak

Quote:
Originally posted by oatmeal
There are other reasons besides heart disease why animal fat is not a good choice but that's another talk for another thread.
Oatmeal, are you talking about the moral/philosophical/environmental reasons? B/C I agree they would probably be OT, but if you are talking about other health reasons I would love to hear them...

So far everything I've read focuses on heart disease, but when I think of a diet high in saturated fat and with low or no carbs (not even talking about simple carbs, but things like fruits and vegetables and whole grains like brown rice or quinoa or.... oatmeal!) AND a minimally to moderately active lifestyle, what really worries me are cancers and digestive system diseases.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Qtopia
bebe luna, to clarify, this is what I said in my post:

I never said that a high fat diet was unhealthy, in fact I think that all of the fats and oils that you (and I) eat are very healthy. I don't think anyone should aim for a low fat diet but rather should be selective about the fats that they do eat- can anyone really argue that a hamburger is as healthy as an avocado, or almonds, or flax oil, or salmon?

And as for the Okinawa: I think their diet sounds great! And I bet that they are ALSO much more active than 99.9% of Americans.
Hey Qtopia,
I'm sorry if you thought my post was directly a response to yours....
I was just giving my personal viewpoints and experiences.
 
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