Fat and cholesterol - a nutty myth
How reliable is "official" dietary health advice? This question has bugged many of us, especially since we have found out about the myth of cholesterol, which spawned a whole series of "cholesterol lowering drugs", some of them taken off the market because of serious and at times fatal side effects, but many of them still selling strong.
One of the underpinning factors of the cholesterol myth was the misconception that all fats are bad for your health. But recently, the US Food and Drug Administration has started to change course and is now admitting a health claim for ... nuts. Their newly approved statement: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Cholesterol is still portrayed as an enemy of good health, perpetrating the old oversimplified approach, but at least we are moving in the right direction.
The Health Sciences Institute comments on the FDA's "nutty decision".
Baltimore Health Sciences Institute
July 31, 2003
Even when the FDA watchdogs get close to getting it right, they seem to choke at the last minute. That's what happened earlier this month when they announced the shocking news that - are you sitting down? - nuts can be healthy for your heart.
For HSI members this isn't news, of course. For years we've been telling you about the different ways that nuts can help keep you healthy. But now, FDA officials have finally caught up with the real world, announcing that the producers of some nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts) and nut products will be allowed make this claim:
"Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Oh come on, guys! Just come out and say it: Nuts are good for you!
But before you take their qualified, carefully worded "endorsement" to heart, you should know there are four nut varieties, that didn't make the cut. According to the FDA, cashews, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, and pine nuts have too much saturated fat. So does that mean that these four outlaws are unhealthy?
Don't you believe it.
During America's low-fat mania of the 80s and 90s, nuts got a bad rap. "Too high in fat," went the thinking. And the over-simplified, flawed logic followed: fat intake raises cholesterol, cholesterol causes heart disease, therefore;
nuts contribute to heart disease. Verdict: Nuts are bad for you. Case closed.
The irony is that anyone who paid attention to that misguided advice was rejecting a natural method to help prevent heart disease, and an excellent source of fiber, protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Fortunately, long-term studies were underway that would eventually dispel the nonsense. Research from the Iowa Women's Study (more than 40,000 postmenopausal women followed for eight years) showed that subjects who ate nuts on a regular basis reduced their heart disease risk by 40 percent. And in the similar Nurses' Health Study, those who ate five or more ounces of nuts each day had a 39 percent lower risk of a fatal heart attack than women who never ate nuts at all.
These are just two of many studies that refuted the idea that fat content automatically upped the risk of heart disease.
In his Real Health newsletter last summer (August 2002), William Campbell Douglass, M.D., summed up the situation, stating, "It is simply wrong to blame fats for degenerative conditions. The scientific research and the historical data of tribal eating habits simply don't support the saturated fat/atherosclerosis theory of heart disease."
And addressing nuts specifically in the same newsletter, Dr. Douglass said, "What the nutrition experts won't admit is that nuts keep you slimmer because they're 'fattier' than other snacks. Their fat content fills you up on much less than you would eat of other foods like pretzels."
Dr. Douglass' recommendation: "Forget the past 30 years of nutritional hogwash: fat does NOT make you fat! So go ahead, eat all the nuts you want."
The carb issue
As is typical of the mainstream, the tunnel vision focus of nuts has been on fat.
So... what about carbohydrates?
Because nuts have good fiber, carbohydrate content isn't a serious issue (unless you're on a zero-carb diet). But if you're trying to curb the carbs, the nut to avoid is the cashew. One ounce of cashews (about a handful) contains 9 grams of carbs, but only 1 gram of fiber. That's 8 net carbs, and no other nut comes close to that amount. The next highest in the carb category is the pistachio with 5 net carbs. Most of the others have only 2 or 3 net carbs.
The lowest on the carbo-meter is the pecan, with just 1 net carb per ounce.
The good stuff
Last week, in the e-Alert "The Fix is In" (7/22/03), I told you that walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. But walnuts also deliver vitamin B-6 and folate. And this packaging of multiple nutrients is typical among all the
If you want more calcium in your diet, almonds are a good source. They also deliver magnesium, which helps the absorption of calcium. Good amounts of vitamin E are found in both almonds and hazelnuts. Pecans have copper and potassium (as do hazelnuts). The ubiquitous peanut contains good amounts of niacin, folate, vitamin E, and a rich combination of minerals. And in several e-Alerts I've mentioned the high selenium content of Brazil nuts, which also deliver linoleic acid and zinc.
So spread the word: the dark age of nuts has ended. Not because they've received a half-hearted FDA seal of approval, but because the evidence of their health benefits has become irrefutable.
The Benefits of High Cholesterol
People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one's brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CHOLESTEROL
By Dr. James Howenstine, MD. - February 20, 2005
Cholesterol is not really the villain portrayed in the pharmaceutical ads. It is actually a vital substance needed in every cell of the body...
From June Russell's Health Facts:
Eggs and Cholesterol - Controversy and Deception
The Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnskov
To download the book, "What You Must Know about Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs", right click on the link below. Then choose to save it on your desktop. After completion of download, you will be able to open it. Then print and read.
Shane Ellison M.Sc.
Low cholesterol linked to higher death rate: study
In what scientists are calling a "cholesterol paradox," new research is linking low cholesterol with a higher death rate in people with heart failure -- the opposite of what researchers expected. A study of 10,701 patients with suspected heart failure found those with low cholesterol were 1.7 times more likely to die within 12 weeks of being hospitalized than people with normal cholesterol. Having very low cholesterol was nearly as dangerous as having very high cholesterol, says Dr. Periaswamy Velevan, a research fellow in cardiology at the University of Hull in England.
Is High Cholesterol Really Bad?
People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one's brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers. Consider the finding of Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University, who reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with a high cholesterol. Supporters of the cholesterol campaign consistently ignore his observation, or consider it as a rare exception, produced by chance among a huge number of studies finding the opposite. But it is not an exception; there are now a large number of findings that contradict the lipid hypothesis...
Cholesterol Is NOT The Cause of Heart Disease
Importantly, many solid scientific studies have shown a mechanistic, causal effect of elevated insulin and leptin on heart and vascular disease, whereas almost all studies with cholesterol misleadingly only show an association. Association does not imply cause. For instance, something else may be causing lipid abnormalities such as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and also causing heart disease. This "something else" is improper insulin and leptin signaling.
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Friday August 1 2003
updated on Sunday December 5 2010
URL of this article:
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