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More on fat myth busting

February 3, 2011

“The assumption that fat makes people fat and unhealthy makes sense, but does not make it true.” Robb Wolf, The Paleo Solution


Last post I opened the preverbal can of worms by unveiling the heresy that fats are not only good for us they are a primal necessity for our body’s functions.  Our culture has villainized them based on Ancel Keys’ work in the 1960s that was only a hypothesis and a poorly done one at that.

As American’s have dutifully reduced their saturated fat intake due to this hypothesis, obesity has doubled, diabetes has tripled and heart disease is still the number one killer. With research burning up the labs, the evidence is irrefutable and it is not what American’s want to here. The culprit isn’t fat… it’s processed carbohydrates.

The latest research findings were published in March through the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”. The Oakland Research Institute studied 350,000 people from 5 to 23 years on their daily food intake and their risk of developing heart disease. The analysis found no association between the amount of saturated fats consumed and the risk of heart disease.

So what about those saturated fats that we have been programmed to shutter over? Are they really… dare I say… good for us?? The scientific community is agog on what they are finding there. In 2008, Meir Stampfer, professor of nutrition at Harvard co-authored a study that followed 322 moderately obese subjects for two years.

One group ate low-fat calorie restricted diet based on the American Heart Association’s guidelines. One group ate the Mediterranean diet which is calorie restricted, low in red meat and high in veggies, then the other group ate a low-carb nonrestricted-calorie diet. Guess who fared the best? The subjects in the low carb group ended up with the healthiest ratios of HDL to LDL cholesterol and lost twice as much weight as their low fat eating counterparts. Oh and kept it off too.

Stampfer’s findings do not merely suggest that saturated fats are not bad; they indicate that processed carbs could be the villain hiding in the bread drawer. So the next time you are eating your buttered toast, consider that fact that the butter is better for you than the toast. Crazy huh?

Now this doesn’t mean that the green light has been given to everyone to go out and gorge on saturated fats, particularly combined with processed carbohydrates. Yet it does shine a light an area that has been misunderstood too long.  (It is rather interesting to note here that the sugared beverage industries are lobbying very hard against this data going public.)

So what fats are good for us?? The simplest rule to follow here is fats that have been minimally processed are the ones to go for. Good nutrient dense saturated fats such as minimally coconut oil and palm oil, animal fats like eggs, butter, whole milk and meats are excellent fats to introduce back into your diet in moderation.  (Shock and awe to all of the above!)  Make sure and eat grass finished meats and healthy eggs to get the full benefits of these nutrient dense fats.

High Omega 3 oils are extremely important as well in the diet and should be supplemented if you don’t eat a lot of fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. These oils are essential for certain body functions such as the heart.

The ever shining star, olive oil is always a great choice. Nuts and nut oils are friendly fats to have conversations with. Of course, the gregarious avocado is always a delight to have lunch with.

Avoid all partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats. All factions in the nutrition world agree on this. (Rare but true.)  Any seed oils are out, like canola or safflower due to how heavily refined and genetically modified it is. It has to be put through a process that renders it un-toxic to humans and animals and converts some of it to hydrogenated trans fat.

Chaos and confusion reign, my job here is done. Once again, if you want to learn more on this, and there is so much more to learn, read “Good Calories Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes and/or “Cereal Killer” by Alan L. Watson. Meanwhile enjoy a bit of butter on your veggies not your toast.

Primal Nut Bars

This recipe is a very nutrient dense food so remember and don’t eat the whole pan in one setting! Small portions! These bars are a great transitional food to move away from sweets and processed carbs. My hubby loves to hike with them.  I picked it up from Mark Sisson’s blog, another great place to read about this subject.

1 cup of slivered almonds

1 cup of pecans

½ cup of nut flour,

(I used Bob’s red mill hazelnut flour, more local ya know)

½ cup of unsweetened dried coconut

½ cup almond butter

½ cup of coconut oil

¼ cup of honey

2 tsp of pure vanilla

½ teaspoon of salt

1 cup of dried fruit, like cranberries

Preheat the primal cooking fire (oven) to 350 degrees and toast the nuts until golden brown stirring occasionally. Watch them carefully, they’ll go from golden to black fast! Once they are toasted nicely, toss them in the stone grinder, (the food processor or blender) and give them a few pulses till they are a coarse meal and stir into the nut flour in a medium bowl.

In a microwave safe bowl, warm up the coconut oil and almond butter for about 20 seconds, in the radiant zapper, (microwave) and stir them together well. Add the honey, vanilla, and salt then mix till all creamy and you are starting to drool. Fold the nut mix into the honey mix then add the fruit. Pat into an 8 x 8 baking dish and stick in the ice cave (fridge) for 1 hour or more till nice and solid. Cut into squares and try not to grunt when eating. Keep in the ice cave to store.

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