Type of Dietary Fat Key to Heart Risk
January 02, 2008
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The value of hardened (trans) unsaturated fats in our food supply is probably best exemplified by the glazed doughnut. At room temperature, a glazed doughnut can be easily eaten with one hand, but warmed up it requires two hands and a napkin.
That's what trans fats can do for us: they keep our pastries firm and our margarine stiff at room temperature. Trans fats are generally found in absolutely unnecessary foods like doughnuts and margarines.
Trans fats are produced when polyunsaturated vegetable fats are artificially hydrogenated, a process that increases both their firmness and their resistance to oxidative spoilage. About 5 to 10 percent of the fat in our American diet and about 5 percent of the fat stored in our American adipose tissue is trans unsaturated fat
It is the type of dietary fat and not the total amount of fat consumed that affect a person's risk of coronary heart disease.
The findings may have an impact on current recommendations by United States health officials that the daily total dietary intake of fat in general not exceed 30% of total calories consumed.
This study focused on the cardiac risk of several types of fat: saturated fat, found in meats and dairy foods; trans unsaturated fat, the "hardened" fat found in margarine and fast foods; monounsaturated fat, as occurs in olive and canola oils; and polyunsaturated fat, as found in corn and soybean oils.
The main finding is that it's the type of fat that's most important for the risk of heart disease -- that it's not the total amount of fat because there are 'good' fats and 'bad' fats, much like 'good' cholesterol and 'bad' cholesterol. Higher intake of trans unsaturated fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease.
This is the first major epidemiologic study to look at all the major fats and total fats -- to put all the fats together in one prospective study. The researchers calculated a 17% greater risk of coronary disease from dietary saturated fat compared with the same caloric intake from carbohydrates.
BUT, trans unsaturated fats were associated with the highest heart risk -- almost twice that (93%) of carbohydrates.
This large effect is probably explained by the impact of trans unsaturated fat on blood lipid levels, its interference with fatty-acid metabolism, and its ability to elevate triglycerides -- a type of blood fat.
But the risk percentages of the other fats ran in the opposite direction. As compared with the equivalent energy intake from carbohydrates, the heart disease risk was 19% lower for monounsaturated fats and 38% lower for polyunsaturated fats among the nurses followed in the study.
In addition, the researchers note that the high-carbohydrate diet recommended by some heart disease prevention programs, which are intended to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels also lower the ("good") HDL levels.
According to the report, replacing 5 percent of energy from saturated fat with unsaturated fat leads to a 42% lower risk of heart disease. And replacing 2 percent of energy formerly eaten in the form of trans unsaturated fat with unhydrogenated, unsaturated fat drops heart risk by 53%.
The New England Journal of Medicine ( November 20, 1997;337:1491-1499)
What Are GMOs?
From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.
GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.
Help Support GMO Labeling
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.
Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.
The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.
Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve
Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.
Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.