Rob: Welcome to the, “Your Best You Today Show”. I’m your host Rob Heppell joined with me as always health expert Dr. Kevin Jackson. Dr. Kevin is a naturopathic doctor, who is been helping people find natural solutions to the health issues for over 25 years. With the “Your Best You Today” online show, were going to dive into common health issues and explore natural solutions to them. Welcome back Dr. Kevin.
Dr. Kevin: Hey Rob.
Rob: So hey, this last episode we talked about protein. And you hinted a little bit about what we are going to talk about today. And I think it’s the third of the tri-fecta, we’ve talked about carbs and we talked about proteins and now we’re going to be talking about fats.
Dr. Kevin: That’s it. You know, and I think there are a lot of misconceptions about fats. And I think that’s really probably half the battle. We have been told these things about fats that are not based in science. A lot of knee jerk reactions, regarding fats that they are the nastiest of the three. That we have to avoid them at all costs, and that’s just not true.
Now some fats are very nasty and really should be avoided at all cost, but certainly not the vast majority of fats. And the first thing that I wanted to talk about was trans-fat. You know, trans-fat truly are killer fats. I mean, we’ve heard, saturated fat is bad for you. Well trans-fats are I would say 20 times worst than anything a saturated fat can do for you in a negative way. Trans-fats are substances that are found in a lot of baked goods, fried foods that kind of thing. So what are trans-fats? Well trans-fats are fats that have been altered in a very negative way, usually it involves hydrogenation. So, you’re going to see these fats in margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods and fried foods but if it’s says partially hydrogenated oils, or it’s been cooked in partially hydrogenated oils, then you know there’s going to be some trans-fats. And the research clearly shows that trans-fats are linked to weight gain more than any other type of fat. Especially if you’re comparing to monounsaturated fat, like you find in olive oil, which is actually quite good for you. But the thing about trans-fats, is that they can distribute body fat in the abdominal area, which is really a risky placed to carry extra padding. And additionally they are associated with inflammation and atherosclerosis, or the building of plaque in the arteries.
So, I mentioned a few of the foods, but margarines, shortening, pastries, doughnuts, muffins, biscuits, cookies, cakes, frostings, pies, crackers, chips, breads, instant flavored coffee drinks, microwave popcorn, fried food, chicken patty sandwiches, french fries; these are all things that you want to take a look at. And because most of the manufacturers nowadays are forced to list the amount of trans-fats it’s really important that you look on the label where it lists “trans-fats” and take a look at the amount of trans-fats present in that particular food.
The American Heart Association suggests we should never ingest more than 2 grams a day of trans-fats, and I personally believe it’s more like one gram of trans-fats daily should be the maximum. But you have to be little bit careful Rob, because, the companies that are manufacturing these products that have trans-fats take advantage of a labeling loophole that allows any content under 0.5 grams of trans-fats, to be listed as 0. So if you have something that contains 0.45 grams of trans-fat, and it’s listed as 0, and you have three or four servings of that food in a day you’re already up over the maximum level that we’re talking about. So really if you are watching for hydrogenated oils and you’re staying away from junk foods and fried foods, you are avoiding the chance of getting these into your system.
Rob: Ok. So are you saying that, if it’s 0.45, they still have to list it but they can put it as 0 grams, because they round off?
Dr. Kevin: Yes, all products must list the amount of trans-fats per serving. But what they can do is if a product has 0.8 grams of trans-fats in a standard serving they can list it as half a serving which moves the trans-fat level to 0.4 grams which then can be listed as 0. So one should be careful and always look at the top of the label where it lists serving size.
Rob: How should we avoid them then?
Dr. Kevin: Like I’m saying, Rob, if we avoid junk foods, it’s really pastries, baked goods, donuts, muffins, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pies, chips. You’ve got to watch your bread. Most breads, have no trans fats but some do contain them often depending on quality. Microwave popcorn, fried foods. You just really want to try and stay away from these foods.
Rob: If we really cut those out, there’s not going to be a healthy alternative to what you just listed?
Dr. Kevin: That’s true. Here’s the interesting thing. If you cook food in saturated fat then there’s no chance that that saturated fat can convert to a trans-fat. The old adage is that you never cook things in lard, butter or in coconut oil, because they’re saturated fats. A saturated fat cannot become a trans-fat. Only an unsaturated fat can become a trans-fat. Polyunsaturated or unsaturated…if it’s hydrogenated, it can become a trans-fat. That can get kind of complicated.
If you just remember that saturated fats are the fats that you get from meats and lard and typically from butter and coconut oil, those are actually quite safe when we’re talking about trans-fats, because you just won’t find trans-fats from those sources.
Rob: Can we dive a little bit deeper then into saturated fats?
Dr. Kevin: This is a really important point to be made in this episode. That is we’ve heard nothing but bad things about saturated fats.
Saturated fat has long been vilified by the medical profession and the powers that be generally saying that we really have to minimize our saturated fat. There’s a really interesting study that was done in 2010. It was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Science has really discovered that there wasn’t enough proof to link saturated fat to either heart disease or stroke.
Four years before that, there was actually a large health study called the Women’s Health Initiative. They found that eating less saturated fat did not result in lower rates of heart disease or stroke.
In the 2010 study that I was telling about in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was very large. It was a meta‑analysis that involved 21 studies and nearly 350,000 people. It was quite clear and one of the medical doctors involved basically said that everybody just assumed that the evidence against saturated fat was strong.
But when they actually analyzed this and they looked at all the research that came from it, he said that he had to work hard to get his study published, because there was an intrinsic mistrust of this kind of result showing that saturated fat really was not a player in stroke and heart attack. There are many other studies to actually back this up.
I think when it boils down to it and if you look into this, I’ve been saying this for years, there is no clear research to show that saturated fat is linked to all these heart and stroke problems.
There was actually a medical doctor out of Harvard Medical School also involved in some research finding the same results. Basically, what they found was saturated fat is just not a concern when it comes to stroke and heart attack.
What the research discovered was cutting out saturated fat did not make a difference until you consider what people ate in place of it. Swapping out animal fats for vegetable oils, for instance using soybean oil instead of butter appear to lower your LDL cholesterol levels and slight disease risk but trading bacon for bagels didn’t make any difference.
A lot of the studies out there that have shown or that hypothesize that saturated fat was really unhealthy for us and it was linked to heart attack and stroke were predominantly based on animal studies. There’s not a lot of real research or scientific research that shows that saturated fat is truly an issue for us humans.
This is a bit of a shocker for a lot of people but back a hundred years ago, people ate a lot more saturated fat than we do today. Now, we have all these options in place of saturated fat like vegetable oils.
Vegetable oils are a relatively new invention. Everybody used lard back a hundred years ago. We have more heart attacks and strokes now than ever before compared to 100 years ago.
Common sense tells you that saturated fat is really not as negative as we believed in the past or that people have believed in that past. I think that’s so important. Don’t be afraid of good quality red meat. I know that sounds like probably a shocking thing for a naturopathic doctor to say.
Good quality red meat and we’re going to talk about that specifically is actually a great source of protein and it actually can be a source of omega‑3 fatty acids, which are the great fatty acids that we get from fish.
Rob: Before you move on, you gave a bunch of examples of the trans-fats. What are some of the other examples of saturated fats?
Dr. Kevin: Saturated fats are found in most red meats and levels are dependent on how lean the meat is and how much fat you cut off.
Saturated fats are found in beef, pork, lamb, and bison, to some extend in chicken and turkey, and also, found in cheese and dairy products, and eggs.
Animal products basically are the main sources of saturated fat. More and more people are using coconut oil as something to cook with and they’re actually using it as a source of nutrition. People are taking it to stimulate their immune systems. They’re using it to help digestive issues. They’re cooking with it.
I strongly recommend that if you’re going to do any high temperature cooking that you only use organic coconut oil, because it’s saturated and it doesn’t turn into a nasty fat when you heat it up. When you take a monounsaturated or a polyunsaturated fat like you’d find in olive oil or in corn oil or sunflower, et cetera….when you heat it up, you’ll see that it starts to smoke at a fairly low temperature and that fat now becomes a nasty fat. It’s not a trans-fat but it’s not good for you. Saturated fats are much more stable at high temperature. That’s why coconut oil is great.
When we’re on the topic of fats, we can’t avoid talking about cholesterol. Cholesterol is a real concern for me not because I see patients who have high cholesterol, because really, the number one prescribed drugs in North America are statin drugs. They are drugs used to lower cholesterol. We’ll probably have an episode just on statin drugs at some point, because they’re one of the things that I abhor. Of all the medications out there, it’s probably one of the drugs I abhor the most. Just to give you an example. There was a ten year followup study on ischemic strokes called the Copenhagen Stroke Study and this was done out of Denmark. It was a very comprehensive study. It looked at people who had high versus low cholesterol levels.
What this showed quite conclusively was that people who had high cholesterol had less mortality and morbidity associated with strokes than people who had low cholesterol.
I’ll say that again. People who had high cholesterol actually had a lower chance of mortality and morbidity from stroke than people with low cholesterol. We have been led to believe over the years that we’re going to end up with a stroke or heart attack, if our cholesterol is high.
The evidence for many years and certainly with this Copenhagen Study clearly indicates that that is not the case. When we’re talking about good and bad cholesterol, that’s a different story but so many people look to their medical doctors. They look at total cholesterol and they put a patient on a statin drug because their total cholesterol is high.
The research clearly shows that that should not be done especially because they have so many side effects.
Some of the side effects for statin drugs are amnesia, liver and kidney damage, rhabdomyolysis, which is a disease of the muscles that causes severe weakening and pain in the muscles, joint pain, and gastrointestinal problems. On and on it goes.
Really, cholesterol is just not as big a concern as was originally sent out to the masses. We’re all under that belief that we have to lower our cholesterol in all cases, and that is just is not the case. We should not be worrying that much about cholesterol.
We should be looking at other things that are important preventives for stroke and heart attack, and we’re going to have an episode exclusively on some of the things we can do to prevent stroke and heart attack, and actually, blood tests that you can have done to determine whether or not stroke or heart attack is in the cards for you. Because you hear these stories all the time, that people are healthy and they just fall over one day with a stroke or a heart attack that nobody expected. There are many things you can do to look at your risk for these diseases, and cholesterol is not one of those concerns in most cases.
Let’s look at the omega‑3 and omega‑6 fatty acids. The omega‑3 fatty acids, one of the good fats we know of, they’re anti-inflammatory, they’re found typically in fish, seafood and flaxseed. The omega‑6 fatty acids are the more inflammatory substances, and they’re found typically in red meat, and to some extent, chicken.
Let’s just look at eggs. Range fed eggs have an omega‑6 to 3 ratio of 1.5 to 1. That means that for every one and a half units of omega‑6, there’s one unit of omega‑3. That’s a very close ratio, that’s excellent because the omega‑3s are very positive and have these great benefits to us.
Whereas, you buy a standard supermarket egg, and the ratio is about 20 to 1, and that’s a huge difference. That means you have 20 times more of the inflammatory fats than you have of the anti-inflammatory fats. People say that an egg is an egg ‑‑ that’s just not the case.
Getting range‑fed eggs makes a difference. Why? Because, if chickens eat vegetables, they eat insects, they eat plants, they eat fresh foods available to them in their environment, then they’ll have a high amount of omega‑3 fats in their eggs. If they’re fed grains and prefabricated foods, then, they tend to have very high levels of the omega‑6, which are inflammatory and not good for us.
Rob: For the range‑fed eggs, if you’re to purchase organic eggs, would they fall under that, or…?
Dr. Kevin: Yes, typically organic means that the animals are range‑fed, or fed a diet that is high in omega‑3 fatty acids, a natural diet. And also, as a result, their ratios are guaranteed to be leaning more towards the omega‑3 fats than the omega‑6 fats.
There’s an interesting study talking about meats. North Dakota State University conducted a study on the nutritional difference between grass fed, and grain fed bison. What they found when they looked at the meats was that the grass‑fed bison had the omega‑6 to omega‑3 ratio of 4 to 1, and the grain‑fed was twenty one to one.
Here’s another situation where you can get a grass‑fed or a pasture‑fed meat that’s actually good for you, because of these omega‑3 fatty acids. A lot more of the omega‑3 fats, which are what we get out of fish, good for us because of the heart benefit, the mental benefit in cognitive functioning, the anti-inflammatory effect….. it thins your blood.
Also, how long cattle are fed grain versus pasture is really important. After 200 days in a feed lot, grain fed cattle have omega‑6 to omega‑3 ratios that exceed 20 to 1, meaning, very high levels of omega‑6. And most cattle are fed for at least 200 days on grain. But if you go the other way and you have no grain, or very little grain then the omega‑3 fatty acids increase in the meat of the cattle.
That’s an important thing. Look for pasture‑fed, look for grass‑fed meats: beef, lamb, bison all are potentially your better options. They are good quality protein, and especially, if you get something that’s certified organic, that’s even better, because then, you know that there is going to be no antibiotic residues in the food or hormones used, as well.
Rob: Now, is this still the same when you talk about fish. Like, farmed fish versus wild, like salmon for example?
Dr. Kevin: It’s true, you know, they’ve definitely shown clearly that wild fish have higher levels of omega‑3 fats than the farmed fish.
The salmon for example, which is farmed off the west coast of North America, we see huge differences in the amount of omega‑3 fatty acids, but just also the quality of the meat is so much better, and then, there’s inherent issues associated with farmed fish, like sea lice, and they do tend to use hormones in their diet, the quality of the meat is completely different.
A lot of people, certainly in our area here, refuse to buy the farmed fish. In fact, a lot of it is sent to Asia, because it’s just not a good seller in our neighborhood here for those reasons. But you know, Rob the other thing we were talking about earlier was eggs. We were talking about the protein source of eggs.
Historically, eggs have been considered unhealthy, because they can contain cholesterol. A large egg contains just over 200 milligrams of cholesterol, which is a lot compared to most foods. However, it’s been proven time and time again that eggs and dietary cholesterol do not adversely affect cholesterol levels in the blood.
This is certainly what I’ve seen over the years. In fact, I have many people who come in with elevated cholesterol, poor LDL/HDL ratios ie. their bad versus good ratios. I actually put them on increased eggs in their diet. My rule of thumb is don’t eat more than five eggs a day.
Eggs are a great source of protein, they’re high in nutritional factors, and the evidence clearly shows that the cholesterol we get from these eggs does not, in most cases, increase our blood cholesterol levels.
There was a meta-analysis done, it was published in 2013, and it looked at seventeen studies and it discovered that eggs had no association with either heart disease or stroke, in people who were healthy. It did not increase their risk in any way. And so, what is it about eggs that are so good?
First of all, they’re high in antioxidants. They’ve got two antioxidants which are really important – lutein and zeaxanthin. And these are two things that have been shown recently to have very positive effects on eye health.
Retinal health, people with macular degeneration or even glaucoma, and people who are prone to retinal tears, these two antioxidants have been shown to be beneficial for these people, and I actually use these as treatments for these eye disorders. But eggs are loaded with these two wonderful antioxidants.
And also, among other things, one large egg has 77 calories, that’s not a lot of calories, five grams of fat, and six grams of protein, and nine essential amino acids. It’s rich in iron and phosphorus, selenium , Vitamin A, B12, B2, B5, and it contains a lot of choline. About 100 milligrams of choline, which is really important for brain function.
I actually use choline to treat people who have memory problems and dementia. Again, eggs can be beneficial there. Choline is also helpful for our liver function. And so, most of us have taxed livers, and we’re going to be talking about the liver in a future episode, because it’s such an important organ.
It performs over 500 functions in the human body and really gets abused by most of us. Choline is really one of those substances that helps out the liver. And so, the other great thing about eggs is because of the fat and cholesterol content, they’re very satiating, they actually help you lose weight.
How do they do that? Because when you eat eggs, they actually stay with you for a long time. You feel full for a longer period of time so you don’t need to eat as often.
That’s why I recommend for people who have the time, if you can get up and eat eggs in the morning, it’s just a great way to start your day off, because you’re going to get good quality protein, you’re going to get a bunch of antioxidants, you’re getting great nutritional value, you’re getting the good fats that are going to satiate you, and you put that all together and it’s really hard to beat eggs for breakfast.
Or, some people put them in shakes, I think that’s also a great option too. Now, we talked a little bit about coconut oil, and coconut oil is great, because it’s high in something called lauric acid, and lauric acid is a saturated fat, but it’s been shown to be really healthy for us, and there are other substances in coconut oil such as caprylic acid, which is actually an anti‑fungal agent.
It can actually be used to treat yeast infections. Coconut oil can be used to treat yeast infections, and you take it orally. And it has a lot of polyphenols which are substances that act as antioxidants in the body.
Coconut oil, which is a great thing to cook with, can actually be used as a daily supplement. Some people take a tablespoon of it every day because it’s beneficial to them on many levels.
That’s really what I wanted to touch on as far as fats go, there’s a lot more to it, but I think in a nutshell we kind of covered the important part of this, Rob. I think that hopefully this will give people out there who are listening a little bit more insight into fats.
It’s not something that we need to be afraid of, and in fact, for a lot of my patients who I’m trying to get away from carbohydrates, I get them onto fats like avocados as they are a great source of fats I love.
They’re satiating, as well. They make you feel full and they sustain you for a long period of time. Nuts and seeds also contain fats. They are also beneficial to us and they give us some protein, as well.
That combined with the eggs and the things we’ve spoken about with red meats are great things to incorporate into our diet. Don’t be afraid of fats. They really are beneficial. There’s lots of information out there on the web. Not that necessarily all the information on the web is great.
There’s a lot of information that you can look up for yourselves and see that there are actually some good clinical studies to show that these fats are really not the pariah that we once thought they were.
Rob: Kev, seems like every one of these episodes is eye opening with all the stats, especially, just the difference between the grain fed chickens and their eggs versus free range eggs, and the difference between the omega 3 and omega 6.
I’ve never knew that before. You can’t get that information off of the container. I guess it’s stated there, but the common person doesn’t know how to interpret it. You just think, “Oh, well, it’s got a nice box and it looks like it should be healthier.”
Or really, what’s the difference, is it worth paying double for the free range or organic eggs. Obviously, if you’re worried about your health, it’s probably a small price to pay.
Dr. Kevin: Yeah, I agree. It’s something that for a lot of people they have to draw the line somewhere, because everybody has a budget and everybody has to say, “OK, we can only spend so much.” But when you’re looking at your health and your children’s health or your spouse’s health, food is one of the most important things that we have total control over.
It’s just really what we’ve been talking about essentially for the last nine episodes. Making better decisions. If you make a few better decisions each day, the net effect is going to be a positive one for you. Hopefully, some of our listeners can use this information to make the quality of their life and the life of their love ones better…… then mission accomplished.
Rob: This is great, Kev. Thanks again for such an enlightening episode. For you listeners, we appreciate you listening. I hope that you’ve been able to take some pointers and apply that to how you’re going to eat and how you’re going to make your food choices.
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Thanks a lot for listening. This is the “Your Best You Today” online radio show.