The Changing Understanding of Fats

I consider myself to be as fortunate as I am frustrated to witness the current revolution in our understanding of the role of fats in proper nutrition and health. The tide seems to be turning and we’re returning from whence we came. Every week, it seems, someone else is questioning the “fat is bad” orthodoxy, and medical practitioners are speaking out.

This week it’s the British Medical Journal, and I have Alice and Fred Ottoboni to thank for pointing it out to me.

When they say, “This is important…”, I tend to listen.
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Review Copy of Cholesterol Clarity

Photo of the cover of the book, Cholesterol Clarity
Browse on Amazon!
It’s always a joy to hear from Jimmy Moore. He does a tremendous service to the low carb community through his blogging, his podcasts (here and here and here), and other works. So it was with no small amount of excitement that I recently received a review copy of Cholesterol Clarity, the latest collaboration between Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric Westman.

I’ve not had a chance to dig in to it yet, but what little I’ve seen thumbing through it has me excited to dig and review. I’ll post a review as soon as I have the chance!


Dr. Oz Reconsiders Position On Cholesterol – Update

I covered Dr. Oz’s recent change of heart on cholesterol in a previous post. Linked from that post are video clips from the cholesterol segment in question. Unfortunately, there’s an obvious lacuna in the videos hosted on Dr. Oz’s website. Thankfully, Fitness Coach Mark had the presence of mind to record the show and he posted a clip of the missing segment to YouTube:

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Dr. Oz Reconsiders Position On Cholesterol

I’m not a fan of Dr. Oz, usually. Mostly because of his dogmatic approach to nutrition that seemed to ignore newer research in favor of the typical orthodoxy. An example of this can be seen in the episode where he had Gary Taubes on as a guest (Segment 1, Segment 2, Segment 3). His smug condescension is almost palpable, and so I wrote him off as a largely well-meaning but misinformed guy.
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My Lipid Profile Before and After Starting a Low Carb Diet

I see lots of questions in the various communities regarding the safety of a ketogenic diet. One frequent concern is about what this diet will do to one’s cholesterol numbers. Because of these questions, I recently went through my EMR data and pulled my last few years of cholesterol tests and decided to chart the trends before and after starting a ketogenic diet. Here are the results:

Graph displaying cholesterol test results for before and after starting a ketogenic diet.
HDL, LDL, Triglycerides and Total Cholesterol before and after starting a low carb ketogenic diet.

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Meta-Analysis Reveals: Low Carb Diets Promote Better Metabolic Risk Factors

Ok, another article that’s behind a paywall, and it’s just a meta analysis, but still, it’s more evidence that the tide is turning in the medical, health and nutrition community. According to the abstract of a meta-analysis just published in the American Journal of Epidemiology,

persons on low-carbohydrate diets experienced a slightly but statistically significantly lower reduction in total cholesterol (2.7 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: 0.8, 4.6), and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (3.7 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 6.4), but a greater increase in high density lipoprotein cholesterol (3.3 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: 1.9, 4.7) and a greater decrease in triglycerides (-14.0 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: -19.4, -8.7).

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A Better Cholesterol Test: Ask For It By Name Wherever Wellness Is Served

At work, we have our annual “wellness” exams coming up, and part of that is a blood draw so they can do a standard lipid panel. The results of this “exam” determines whether or not we qualify for a reduced rate on our health insurance.

Since this exam is coming up, I asked the company that administers the exam if I could upgrade my cholesterol test to an NMR test, as it can measure actual particle size and give more meaningful (less misleading) cholesterol information.
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Another Sacred Cow Falls By The Wayside: HDL Cholesterol Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

It turns out the cholesterol narrative we’ve been telling ourselves is not quite as clear as we’d hoped. New research reveals that high levels of HDL cholesterol (what we’ve previously called “The Good Cholesterol”) imparts NO protection against heart disease. From the New York Times’ coverage of the news:

People who inherit genes that give them naturally higher HDL levels throughout life have no less heart disease than those who inherit genes that give them slightly lower levels. If HDL were protective, those with genes causing higher levels should have had less heart disease.

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Dr. Donald W. Miller – Enjoy Eating Saturated Fats: They’re Good For You

Dr. Miller, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Washington, gives a nifty talk in which he frames the historical context for our mistaken fear of saturated fats and tries to expose the real science that should inform our consumption decisions.

Really a worthwhile video to watch if you’re concerned about “all the fat” you’re eating on a low carb ketogenic diet.