Category Archives: Culinary

Another Sat Fat Study

No, you don’t increase your saturated fat by eating saturated fat. It’s the carbs, stupid:

The fatty acid called palmitoleic acid, which is associated with “unhealthy metabolism of carbohydrates that can promote disease,” went down with low-carb diets and gradually increased as carbs were re-introduced, the study said.

An increase in this fatty acid indicates that a growing proportion of carbohydrates is being converted into fat instead of being burned by the body, the researchers said.

“When you consume a very low-carb diet your body preferentially burns saturated fat,” Volek said.

“We had people eat two times more saturated fat than they had been eating before entering the study, yet when we measured saturated fat in their blood, it went down in the majority of people,” he said.

The finding “challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn’t correlate with disease,” Volek added.

You don’t say.

Also, how the mindless theory of calorie counting has harmed public health.

[Update a while later]

Nine lies about fat that have destroyed the world’s health.


When “healthy” eating becomes unhealthy.

There may be reasons to be a vegan, but health is not among them.

[Update late morning]

Both Anne Hathaway and Bill Clinton have given up on their vegan diets:

Hathaway recently confessed that eating endless meals of tofu and garbanzo beans seemed to be sapping her energy. She told the Insider that when she was filming Interstellar, the action-packed scenes overwhelmed her.

Seeking a solution, Hathaway decided to try feasting on fish and shifting to a low-carb diet. The decision to push away those plant-based platters and experiment with an animal protein-powered plan came in the middle of filming a water scene, which required that she suit up in a heavy garment.

“I fell off so hard…. So you imagine what that’s like — what it’s like running through water and then you wear a 40-pound suit on top of it, so for me it was intense. I was facing my life, I don’t know how many days in a row of, like, garbanzo beans on a plate.”

And with an apology to PETA, Hathaway says that she doesn’t plan to return to her vegan lifestyle. She even dug into a plate of eggs and sausage during a recent Harper’s Bazaar interview. Anne noted that the difference between eating a vegan diet and consuming animal protein was notable overnight.

“I just didn’t feel good or healthy,” Hathaway recalled of her vegan days.

You don’t say.

A Medical Breakthrough

An informational one:

…new recommendations regarding dietary fat from “what’s new Family Medicine” section.

Fat intake and coronary risk (April 2014)

Although it is known that there is a continuous graded relationship between serum cholesterol concentration and coronary heart disease (CHD), and that dietary intake of saturated fat raises total serum cholesterol, a 2014 meta-analysis of prospective observational studies found no association between intake of saturated fat and risk for CHD [7]. The meta-analysis also found no relationship between monounsaturated fat intake and CHD, but suggested a reduction in CHD with higher intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats; a benefit with omega-6 polyunsaturated fats remains uncertain. Given these results, we no longer suggest avoiding saturated fats per se, although many foods high in saturated fats are less healthy than foods containing lower levels. In particular, we no longer feel there is substantial evidence for choosing dairy products based on low fat content (such as choosing skim milk in preference to higher fat milk). We continue to advise reducing intake of trans fatty acids. (See “Dietary fat”, section on ‘Saturated fatty acids’.)

Better late than never.


Is it ruining your productivity?

In other words, that euphoric short-term state that you enter after drinking coffee is what non-habitual caffeine consumers are experiencing all of the time. The difference is that for coffee drinkers, the feeling doesn’t last. “Coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights,” Bradberry explained. “In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.”

See, for me, the thing is that I can’t even tell whether or not I’ve had any. I just drink it for medicinal purposes. In fact, even though I now drink two cups almost every morning, I don’t consider myself a “habitual” drinker, because that implies that it’s a habit. It really isn’t, for me. I sometimes forget to drink it.

Low-Carb Diets

Another well-designed study shows its benefits.

[Update a while later]

Here‘s the original NYT piece.

[Afternoon update]

On an email list, I responded to a friend who was interested, but disgusted by eating fat (doesn’t like butter on anything except potatoes, cuts it off steak, etc.)

I’m not big on just eating fat per se myself, but I now take fat I cut off and render it (tallow for beef, lard for pork, schmaltz for chicken) and add it to other things (like a can of “fat-free” baked beans yesterday), or fry eggs or other things in it. For instance, when you cook bacon, you’re actually rendering the lard (the bacon grease). When I render beef suet I get what I call “beef bacon,” tasty bits of crunchy protein, along with the tallow. I’ve quit using seed or vegetable oil for deep frying and switched to lard or tallow (the latter is what used to make McDonalds fries taste good, until they got mau maued into switching to other oils, and it made a lot of economic sense given that they own cattle ranches and generate so much of it in cooking the burgers). Also, eat crispy chicken skin (the chicken version of bacon). There are a lot of non-disgusting ways to increase your fat intake, while improving food taste/mouth feel.

I’d like to start a social media campaign to get McDonalds to go back to tallow for fries (yes, I know that potatoes are problematic, but if you’re going to eat them, at least fry them in a delicious and healthy fat). It might even knock down the prices.

What Makes Us Fat

Here’s a radical idea: Let’s do some actual scientific research:

…much of what we think we know about nutrition is based on observational studies, a mainstay of major research initiatives like the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 120,000 women across the US for three decades. Such studies look for associations between the foods that subjects claim to eat and the diseases they later develop. The problem, as Taubes sees it, is that observational studies may show a link between a food or nutrient and a disease but tell us nothing about whether the food or nutrient is actually causing the disease. It’s a classic blunder of confusing correlation with causation—and failing to test conclusions with controlled experiments. “Good scientists will approach new results like they’re buying a used car,” he says. “When the salesman tells you it’s a great car, you don’t take his word for it. You get it checked out.”

NuSI’s starting assumption, in other words, is that bad science got us into the state of confusion and ignorance we’re in. Now Taubes and Attia want to see if good science can get us out.

What a concept.


A list of its health benefits.

This sort of thing is why I finally started drinking it a few months ago, even though I don’t perceive any actual benefit in doing so. I’ve been making it for her for years, so it was just a matter of making extra. One discovery I made that reduces the awfulness of the taste is to throw some sea salt in the filter before brewing it. It really does take the bitter edge off it. But it’s still something I basically drink as medicinal. I derive no pleasure from it, and sometimes forget to pour it or drink it if I get distracted, so I’d say I’m not addicted in any way. The only obvious benefit I’ve gotten is much cleaner dental exams, to the point that I’ve backed off from quarterly to semi-annual cleanings.

The Big Fat Surprise

Another review of the book:

The book’s subtitle is Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, which gave me the impression I was about to start reading a hefty science book. There’s plenty of science in The Big Fat Surprise, but it’s more of a history book. It’s the story of how lousy science conducted by arrogant scientists and adopted by equally arrogant policymakers led to lousy decisions that produced lousy consequences. I doubt any Fat Heads out there still believe nutrition science is conducted by impartial researchers who aren’t already wedded to an outcome, but if so, reading this book will disabuse you of that notion. It’s all laid out here in a richly detailed story that runs 340 pages … the egos, the arrogance, the obsession with pursuing and (ahem) proving a single hypothesis, the scientific bullying, the corruption, and of course the ham-handed interference by the 900-pound gorilla known as the federal government.

Gee, in what other field have we seen that sort of thing?

The Big Fat Silence

It’s time to end it:

…if one has been teaching that high-fat diets can lead to heart attacks for 30 years but then finds that this may not be true, or that, indeed, more fat and less carbohydrate in the diet may be beneficial to one’s health and longevity, feelings of discomfort can result. Subconscious mechanisms may then keep enduring convictions firmly in place for extended periods of time, despite evidence to the contrary.

And it’s hard to confront the fact that you may have been responsible for the poor health and lives cut short of people you’ve been advising.


So I heard about this story on the news this morning, and it sounded a little junk sciency:

“What’s exciting about this is it takes that to another place,” said Toni Pollin, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who led the 2008 work. “Just as you’d expect from something that prevents coronary artery buildup, there is strong evidence that having [a gene mutation] reduces the risk of having a heart attack.”

Kathiresan and colleagues benefited from the revolution in genome technology, sequencing 18,666 genes in each of 3,734 people in their search for genes that appeared to be linked to triglycerides. Rare mutations in the APOC3 gene stood out.

Once they understood where to look, they searched for four mutations in that gene in more than 110,000 people. They found that people with any one of the mutations — about 1 in 150 people — were 40 percent less likely to have heart disease and had lower levels of triglycerides.

There is no doubt in my mind that that there is a genetic basis for heart-disease risk, but I am not seeing anything in this study that would indicate that trying to reduce triglycerides per se (as statins attempt to lower cholesterol) are doing anything but treating a symptom, and possibly a harmless one. The mutation reduces both triglycerides and heart risk, but doesn’t mean that high triglycerides increase heart risk per se, or that lowering them artificially will reduce it.

But for what it’s worth, since I went partially paleo, my triglycerides have become almost immeasurable.

The Big Fat Lie

Another review of Nina Teicholz’s book:

Because the importance of cholesterol as a risk factor for heart disease had been accepted as dogma, it was pretty well impossible to challenge it. For example, one of the outstanding nutrition scientists, David Kritchevsky, suggested in the 1980s that there should be a weakening of the recommendation on dietary fat and encountered hysterical opposition. Here is what he told the author:

“People would spit on us! It’s hard to imagine now, the heat of the passion. It was just like we had desecrated the American flag. They were so angry that we were going against the suggestions of the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

This meant that anyone who had the temerity to challenge the official line was committing professional suicide. Applications for funds to support research, which might question the prevailing views on fat, were unlikely to be supported. Even if funds were obtained (eg from independent foundations) the researchers would find difficulty in publishing their results in scientific journals and they were rarely invited to serve on expert panels. By stifling opposition, the public was presented with what appeared to be a uniform scientific consensus.

Say, that sounds familiar somehow.


Hey, let’s come up with a new poison to replace them with:

“In icings, PHOs provide the air-holding capacity to achieve specific desired gravities, along with the melting and spreading characteristics that allow icings to be evenly spread on cakes,” said Tom Tiffany, senior technical manager, ADM Oils in Decatur, Ill. “The heat stability enables the icing to remain stable when exposed to a variety of transportation and storage conditions.”

Dr. McNeill said icings sold at retail may require a shelf life of up to 1.5 years. If shelf life fails to reach that duration, consumers may open a tub of icing and find it’s “like a piece of concrete,” Dr. McNeill said.

To replace PHOs and still keep the desired shelf life in icings, formulators may use palm oil along with a liquid vegetable oil such as canola oil or sunflower oil that may keep saturated fat as low as possible, he said.

Guys, there’s this thing called “butter.” And “lard.”

As Dr. Meade says:

Dietary Animal Fat

It’s long past time to end the war on it:

The public MUST NOT let TBFS slip slowly into oblivion. Nina’s first story should create an outraged public that demands the following:

  1. Government-sponsored nutrition must be totally terminated.

  2. Freedom of information in valid nutritional sciences must be made widely available.
  3. All citizens must have the right to design their own nutrition plans.
  4. A primary prevention program based on eliminating the causes of diseases must be implemented.

It won’t happen unless we make it happen. It has to become a political issue. Attacking Michelle’s school-lunch tyranny would be a good start.

[Update a few minutes later]

And yet the USDA is still spending millions to propagandize us about low fat:

The USDA also proposed a study on changing how food is described on menus, labeling low-sodium and low-fat versions as “regular,” and “framing regular versions of certain snack products as high-fat or high-sodium.”

I’d like to see someone on the Hill make an issue of this.