The diet-heart hypothesis became well established in 1961 with a Time magazine publication linking dietary cholesterol, serum cholesterol and heart disease. It’s true that high cholesterol is linked to heart disease but it is oxidized cholesterol that causes the problem. Non-oxidized cholesterol is protective and essential to all cells. The biggest factor contributing to oxidation of cholesterol is inflammation driven by high polyunsaturated fats from seed oils plus excess dietary fructose. This dramatic dietary change is due to the huge change in oils provided by industry to our supermarkets and recommended by the medical system.
By the end of the 1950’s, saturated fats were out of favor while the new ‘vegetable’ oils pressed from seeds became increasingly popular. These polyunsaturated and hydrogenated seed oils were viewed as heart healthy substitutes for natural saturated fats.
Incidently no oil comes from a vegetable; it comes from seeds, nuts or fruit!
Industrialization has dramatically changed our diet. Sugary colas were invented in the 1890’s. Modern mills began refining grains into white, nutritionally depleted rice, meals and flours. A huge increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates, polyunsaturated and hydrogenated seed oils replaced the natural saturated fats. In the 60 years from 1910 to 1970 coronary heart disease escalated from an unrecognized problem to the cause of death in over 50 percent of our population. In the year 2009 heart disease killed 600,000 Americans.
We have a number of modern diet stressors; higher amounts of carbohydrate eaten as sugars and starch plus industrial seed oils, all of which may be converted to problematic fats. This would be compounded by lack of anti-oxidants and omega 3 oils in the diet, creating oxidative stress and inflammation.
The change from healthy traditional fats to manufactured and industrially processed seed oils has caused incalculable misery. It is one of the biggest health frauds of all time.
SATURATED FAT CONSUMPTION
This is not a recommendation to eat excessive amounts of saturated fat. Yes, it’s nourishing, an excellent fuel and building block for good cholesterol, but let’s go back to first principles; how was it traditionally eaten? Our forefathers ate a lot of animal fat but those animals ate grass. It’s difficult to get good data on the fat profile of browsing animals but it’s about 45% saturated, 45% mono-unsaturated and 5% polyunsaturated; all fats showing a variety in the length of their molecular chains.
So if we eat meat make sure it’s from pastured animals; find the most chemical free and ethically grown source. Grain feeding causes problematic changes to the fat profile of the animal, especially a deficiency of the EFA’s (the Essential Fatty Acids – EPA and DHA). The original source of these fats is grass, and browsing animals have the stomachs and digestive ability to create ample amounts of EFA’s.
Other excellent oils (from fruit) are virgin & extra virgin olive oil plus the tropical oils virgin coconut and virgin red palm. Eating moderate amounts of nuts and seeds adds small amounts of useful poly-unsaturated oils.
We can metabolize a fair amount of any of these but no doubt it’s better not to consume excess of any or limit ourselves to only one kind.
If you’re vegetarian good sources of EFA’s are flaxseed, walnuts, chia seed, sprouts, algae and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale. These foods provide a good serve of ALA (alpha linolenic acid) which is the pre-cursor molecule to the functional forms we need, EPA & DHA. The enzyme doing the conversion needs Magnesium, Zinc and activated B6 so be sure your diet includes enough of these.
Nuts and seeds also provide small but useful amounts of GLA which when combined with EPA becomes the main prostaglandin to reduce inflammation. The largest amounts of GLA are found in Evening Primrose oil.
Flaxseed oil is a popular EFA supplement, this long chain polyunsaturated oil is very prone to oxidation (randicity) so higher quality oils are bottled under nitrogen. Of course the nitrogen leaves the container at first opening so even if its refrigerated it will be rancid very soon. If you’ve ever wondered why that bottle gets waxy this is the answer. A better way to get flaxseed oil is to freshly grind a spoonful of organic seeds in a coffee grinder and mix with a suitable food.